The hits just keep on coming for the Cal football team, and this time, the hit is jumbo-sized.
The RMS Matt Williams will be steaming in to the San Francisco Bay next season, as the big British offensive tackle officially committed to the Bears this weekend, making him the 12th member of Cal's 2011 recruiting class and the second offensive lineman.
After a Thursday morning in-home meeting with head coach Jeff Tedford and now-former offensive line coach Steve Marshall, Williams decided to make his pledge on Friday, even after learning of the latter's departure from the program.
"(Tedford) came in and just told me that he's going to look after me when I get there," Williams said. "He said that it's going to be a great program and that it's on the rise. I just felt the most comfortable around them, and that's why I picked them. I trust Coach Tedford, the program's great, the academics are great and I'm excited to get there.
"Coach Marshall was in the meeting in the morning, and we spoke about things, and it was a surprise to me in the afternoon when I found out that he was leaving. But, I spoke to Coach Tedford, and we spoke for a while on the phone. I trust what he had to say, and I'm looking forward to working with him. All I know is that Coach Tedford knows what he's doing and I'm sure he's going to hire the best guy that he can get, and I'm excited to work with whoever he brings in to coach the offensive line."
Williams phoned his parents back home in Liverpool, England, to tell them of his decision. While the international renown of the University is clearly a draw, Williams laughingly says that his parents are still pretty baffled by the whole world of collegiate athletics.
"They're happy for me, but they still don't understand what's going on, being in England and all that," he said. "They're happy that I chose the school that I wanted to go to, a school that I'm going to be happy with for two to three years. They'll be coming out to see me next year."
Williams will have three years to play two once he arrives in Berkeley in a month, and he's more than ready to get started, but before that, he'll make a pilgrimage back home for the holidays to spend some quality time with the family, which, for Williams, means hopping a flight back to Liverpool, England. After that, he'll fly out to Berkeley to begin his new life.
"I'll be going home for the break, and then I'll be flying to Berkeley around the 10th to the 12th of January, then I'll get ready to get started," Williams said.
The 6-foot-7, 295-pound tackle is open to playing anywhere the Bears need him. Since he's taller than incumbent left tackle Mitchell Schwartz, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Schwartz slide over to his more natural right tackle spot while Williams takes over on the left, especially given the overall lack of depth on the outside.
"(Getting to start) had something to do with it, but not as much as the comfort level I had there with Coach Tedford and all the other coaches and the other guys-I got along with them pretty well," Williams said. "All the schools I was looking at were pretty short at tackle, so anywhere I was going, the tackle depth was shallow. It came down to the comfort level, and that's just where I could see myself playing."
Williams made his official visit out to Berkeley more than two months ago, and fell in love with the school during his first of four officials, but still wanted to be absolutely sure.
"I did like Cal a lot when I was there, and it was my first visit, so I had never been on a visit like that before," Williams said. "It was a little different for me, and I just felt, with the football, the way they play, with the academics, the way they're going with Coach Tedford, I just felt that it was the right fit for me. I enjoyed my other visits, and all the other schools are great schools, but I just picked Cal because I thought I fit in there best."
Williams is considering a major in kinesiology when he arrives, and plans on speaking with academic advisors once he arrives on campus.
Jumping from a junior college in North Dakota to the bright lights of the Bay Area and Division I football is quite a leap, but Williams is more than ready.
"I'm just excited," he said. "It's going to be a challenge for me, but I thrive on challenges. Whatever challenges they throw at me, I'm going to take them and take full advantage of it, whatever's put in front of me. I'm going to work hard on the field, off the field, the classroom, whatever they ask me to do, I'll do. I'm just excited to get started when I get up there-only a month away, pretty much-and they know I'm excited to get up there and I just can't wait to start working."