Williams nets big offer

Florida latest to offer talented Harbor City, Calif., quarterback

Originally Published: April 16, 2012
By Garry Paskwietz | ESPN.com

SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. -- For quarterback Troy Williams of Narbonne HS in Harbor City, Calif., the recruiting process that he already described as "getting crazy" was turned up a notch with an offer from an SEC power.

"I got an offer from Florida last week," Williams said. "It was surprising because I didn't expect a school like that to come out here and do that, but I'm very thankful. I could definitely see myself playing out there."

The offer list for Williams was already impressive with schools such as Washington, UCLA, Arizona State and Mississippi. He was also ranked as the No. 12 dual-threat quarterback in the first edition of the ESPN 150 position rankings.

Williams (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) was in attendance on Saturday at the Asante Quarterback Academy at St. Paul High School as part of his regular tour of the spring camp circuit. In addition to participating in 7-on-7 tournaments as part of the 1925 team, he looks to attend the upcoming Elite 11 regional competition in Northern California and the USC Rising Stars Camp in June. Williams also took recent campus visits to Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA and has a trip planned next week to Washington for its junior day.

[+] EnlargeDwight Williams
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comGardena, Calif., Class of 2014 linebacker Dwight Williams has dazzled on camp circuit this spring.
Top 2014 talent impresses
Two of the top Class of 2014 prospects from Southern California were also in attendance at the Asante camp in tight end Darrell Cloy (Sante Fe Springs, Calif./St. Paul) and linebacker Dwight Williams (Gardena, Calif./Serra).

Cloy (6-foot-3, 212 pounds) played as a freshman at Orange (Calif.) Lutheran before moving to Los Angeles Garfield for his sophomore year.

"Last year at Garfield we lost to Carson in the playoffs," Cloy said. "I liked the spread offense that Coach [Elijah] Asante ran at Carson and I knew he would be bringing it here to St. Paul. I think the offense fits me well. I can be an in-line blocker and I can run versatile routes.

"I like watching the New England Patriots to see the way they use Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. They create a lot of mismatches and that's the way I want to play."

Cloy spent his spring as part of the B2G team that won the recent IMG Madden West regional competition. When it comes to recruiting, his attention so far is focused out of state.

"There's something about ASU and Arizona," Cloy said. "I just like those schools. One of my B2G teammates, Zach Green, is a running back who just committed to Arizona, and he's got me thinking about them now."

Williams garnered a lot of attention earlier this spring when he was named the MVP of the linebacker group at the Los Angeles NFTC, despite the presence of such a highly ranked Class of 2013 player in Michael Hutchings of Concord (Calif.) De La Salle.

"I like coming to these camps so I can get out there and show myself," Williams said. "It's all about competing and trying to get better."

The early list of schools that he likes includes USC, UCLA, California, Ohio State and Colorado but he admits that, when it comes to recruiting, so far he is "playing it low".

Williams (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) has also been a member of the 1925 7-on-7 team this spring.

Downs makes impact
Another linebacker at the Asante camp was senior Nick Downs from St. Paul.

Downs (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) is a three-year starter for the Swordsmen who is hearing from Boise State, San Diego State and Washington State.

"I love the Boise State defense, everything about it," Downs said. "I like to use my versatility and speed and that's what they do.

"I consider myself a hard worker. I look at a guy like Clay Matthews and the way he worked to get where he's at. One of our assistant coaches, Zach Heberer, played at USC and he's always talking to us about that linebacker group in 2008 with Clay, Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and Kaluka Maiava."

Thenarse excited about opportunity
One of the coaches working the Asante camp was Ricky Thenarse, a former defensive back from Los Angeles Jordan and the University of Nebraska. Thenarse made news last week when the 23-year old was named the head coach at his former high school.

Thenarse graduated from Nebraska in 2010 with a degree in sociology and had a tryout with the Seattle Seahawks in 2011. After being waived in training camp, Thenarse spent some time helping the Watts Seahawks, a youth football program that practiced at Jordan. The more time he spent around campus and his old high school team, the more he sensed things weren't working, so he went to the school administration.

"I talked to them and told them what I thought about what Jordan football could be," Thenarse said. "I was born and raised in this community. I know these are different kind of kids and they know I want what's best for them. I was told to apply for the job and I got it."

Thenarse knows too well the obstacles that can come in the community. His two older brothers were killed in 2008 as part of gang violence and Thernarse says he wants gang intervention to be part of his platform as the Jordan head coach.

"What better way to honor my brothers than to do that?" Thenarse said. "I saw what Pete Carroll did with gang intervention at USC and I want to follow that. I want to bring a sense of family back to the Jordan program. That's what I loved about Nebraska -- they had the family atmosphere that reminded me of what we had in high school and I want these kids to experience that."

The fact that Thenarse went into coaching is not a surprise, considering he worked youth summer camps at Nebraska over the past several summers. Cornhuskers head coach Bo Pelini told Thenarse he would make a "great coach" and there were others who shared that opinion.

"It's just in him to be a coach," St. Paul HS head coach Elijah Asante said.

Asante was the head coach at Jordan when Thenarse was the No. 93 prospect in the class of 2006 ESPN 150 rankings.

"Of all the players I ever coached, Ricky had the best work ethic," Asante said. "He's going to make a great coach because of that. The way he went out there and got his degree and then is coming back, I'm very proud of him."

Garry Paskwietz | email

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