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Nits get star who plays all over the field

March 29, 2011
By Philip Cmor

Finding Camren Williams on the football field usually isn't a problem.

It's locating Williams before he blows up a play or makes some kind of big play that is.

"He's gone from playing corner to strong safety. Last year, he played strongside linebacker. Football coaches realize "Where is Williams?'' and we found out they all try to run away from him,'' West Roxbury, Mass., Catholic Memorial School coach Alex Campea said. "This year, we're going to make him our 'Mike' [middle] linebacker, so they can't do that.''

Campea's had just as tough a time finding the best spot for Williams on offense. He's been utilizing Williams at wide receiver, but that doesn't take full advantage of his talent, so, for his senior year, he'll be playing H-Back.

"He might line up at tight end or be used in the backfield. He even has a couple of TD passes,'' Campea said. "He's a great athlete.''

While Campea is happy to remind people that he has Williams for one more year, everyone now knows where the 6-foot-2, 217-pounder will be after that: Penn State.

Williams became the second player to commit to be part of the Nittany Lions' 2012 recruiting class during an unofficial visit to University Park on Friday.

"It was a great school. For me, it was a perfect fit,'' Williams, who was making his third trip to Penn State, said on Sunday. "I want to study kinesiology, and Penn State has the No. 1 program in the country for that. It's a great football program, and it's in the Big Ten, and I'll get an opportunity to play as a true freshman. I just wanted to make sure I fit in. I already liked the campus.

"There was no point wasting my time [looking at other colleges].''

It's still up in the air exactly where Williams will line up for the Lions. He's ticketed to play defense, but he might start out in the secondary.

"Coach [Joe] Paterno really likes big safeties,'' Williams said. "They feel I'm athletic enough to play the 'Hero' position early. It's really like a fourth linebacker. I would obviously grow out of that eventually.''

When that happens, Williams expects to play the weakside, or 'Fritz,' linebacker.

Thinking a few years ahead both on and off the field seems like unusual foresight for a high school junior, but Williams has the benefit of a great deal of family experience and support. His father, Brent, played defensive end for three NFL teams, most notably the New England Patriots. His older brother, Brennan, is a 6-7, 285-pound sophomore offensive tackle at the University of North Carolina and played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

"Camren is a very, very thorough young man. He's very organized,'' said Campea, who made the trip to Penn State with Williams' parents and Williams' close friend and teammate, defensive back Armani Reeves. "He's got a lot of football sense.''

Williams has been playing the game since he was 7. He said watching football is how he spends most of his free time.

"Football is my life,'' Williams said. "It's not a hobby.''

Williams picked Penn State over Michigan - his boyhood favorite because his dad is from Flint, Mich. -Maryland, Wake Forest and joining his brother at North Carolina.

"It was a tough decision [not to go to North Carolina], because that's where everyone thought I would go,'' Williams said.

Penn State did have a few things working in its favor from the start, though. Williams' godfather is former Nittany Lion wide receiver Michael Timpson. He also is close to Lion linebacker Khairi Fortt, having gotten to know the rising sophomore through a camp his father organized.

"He was kind of my mentor,'' Williams said of Fortt.

Williams missed the first half of his junior season with a slightly torn lateral meniscus that required surgery.

"All the schools that were recruiting me contacted me, but Penn State went above and beyond in supporting me,'' Williams said. "That made me think.''

By the time the Williams family returned home on Sunday, they were completely blue and white, in a literal sense.

"My parents, on Friday after I committed, went downtown and went extreme shopping. They bought shirts, hats, everything. We all are wearing Penn State stuff today,'' Williams said.

With Williams committed, speculation has turned to the chances Reeves, who also has a Penn State scholarship offer, will follow him. Many consider them a likely package deal.

"I talk to him about doing that, but I'm going to leave him alone a little bit. He's going to hear enough about that. He's more than a friend to me. He's like a brother. He's at our house five days a week,'' Williams said of Reeves, who he has known since fourth grade. "Hopefully, he will pick Penn State.''

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