In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet the latest blue-chip talent to join Miami’s Tight End room: Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy 4-star TE Riley Williams.
Regardless of whatever any other fan base or group says, Miami is Tight End U. And, in an effort to continue to extend that streak, the Canes looked to the West Coast to add the talented and versatile Riley Williams to the group.
A 2-sport (basketball and football) standout at Portland (OR) Central Catholic, the 6’6” 240lb Williams has all the tools you’d want in a tight end. And, Williams put those skills on display early and often, being one of the best players for Central Catholic on both the hardwood and the gridiron.
Early on, Oregon under the direction of Mario Cristobal was among the first teams to offer Williams. But Cristobal and company had a connection to Williams that no other program could claim: Williams’ older brother Korbin was a walk-on for Cristobal’s Ducks. With that close connection, Cristobal was able to be around the younger Williams early on in his career (Riley was in middle school when Korbin started at Oregon), and that relationship would be the foundation for his recruitment moving forward.
Obviously, with a brother on the Ducks squad, Riley and fam were around the program often. But the means Cristobal was around Riley as well, and he quickly saw a very talented athlete growing up in front of his eyes.
After offering getting a scholarship offer from Cristobal, Williams became the coaches top target at the position. Things were trending up for Oregon and Williams, but then Cristobal left for Miami. But, even with a change in address, Cristobal stayed focused on Williams as his #1 target at TE in the 2023 recruiting class.
This is for good reason: Williams is a baller. Playing for and leading Portland Central Catholic to a 15-0, State Championship season in 2021, Williams had 36 catches for 889 yards (24.7 ypc average) with 14 touchdowns. He was the number one receiving threat, and clearly did that job with excellence, which you love to see. Williams was also instrumental in PCC making it to the State Quarterfinals in basketball.
Like many other players from the West Coast — guys like Francis Mauigoa and Jayden Wayne — Cristobal made every effort to get Williams on campus . After receiving another offer from Cristobal, this time from Miami, on Christmas Day, the talented tight end made his way down to Miami in January 2022 for an unofficial visit. After a return trip for an Official Visit in June, Williams had all the information he needed to make his college choice.
But, another announcement would come just days before Williams’ live commitment ceremony: he, like fellow Pacific Northwest native Jayden Wayne, would be transferring to Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy for his senior year. That school is much closer to Miami’s Coral Gables campus than Portland Central Catholic, and yeah, that was an advantageous move for Cristobal and company.
Just days after announcing his impending transfer to IMG for his senior year, Williams committed to Miami, and gave Cristobal yet-another major recruiting win as he looks to reshape the Canes’ roster.
On the 247sports composite, Williams is a 4-star prospect, the #3 TE nationally, #22 in the State of Florida, and #95 player overall in this class.
Williams committed to Miami over Alabama, Ohio State, with an honorable mention to Oregon, from a list of 23 offers from around the country.
As A Player
Williams fits the mold as a former basketball player at TE. He’s a bit more of a finesse player, but he shows a willingness to be physical at the point of attack when needed.
Williams did most of his damage at Portland Catholic Central lined up out wide. This is similar to how 2022 TE signee Jaleel Skinner was used at his home school in South Carolina before transferring to IMG. Williams is a bit bigger than Skinner at 6’6” 240lbs (but still has room to fill out his frame), so he was a bit more effective when lined up inside at the slot, wing, or in-line. The versatility in alignment is something that Williams should be able to replicate when he joins the Canes’ roster.
One of Williams’ best skills is his ability to high point the ball and win jump ball catches over nearby defenders. His skill is much like many TEs who also (or formerly) played basketball, with the ability to box out the defender and go up to secure the catch, even in a tightly contested area.
With the move to IMG, Williams has gotten much more experience blocking. This will be his main area for growth moving forward to Miami. But, again, Williams has shown a willingness to block, so that’s a big step in the right direction.
Here’s another look at Williams from 247sports Midwest Recruiting Analyst Gabe Brooks:
Owns the requisite size and frame of a versatile tight end with frame potential to play attached and functional athleticism to flex out. Owns ample frame space to add mass if desired.
Dynamic playmaker with big-play punch, especially in run-after-catch scenarios. Shows deceptively good field speed relative to size. Displays short-area suddenness and nuance to evade initial tackler.
Size, catch radius, and athleticism foster dangerous contested-throw and red-zone weapon. Overwhelms smaller defenders to high point and win balls. Owns valuable two-way experience with snaps off the edge to add context to overall abilities.
Also a basketball standout. Not only shows impressive sport-specific skill, but flashes above-the-rim finishing ability with one-foot jump athleticism to punch it in the open floor. Transfers those abilities to the gridiron on a regular basis.
Deceptive field speed creates chunk plays, but can still get faster at the top end. Extensive experience flexed out and as a true outside receiver, so may need some seasoning to acclimate to POA combat in in-line situations. Good two-sport athletic profile, but lacks verified athleticism in regards to combine testing or track and field.
Entering senior season, looks like one of the top tight end prospects in the country’s 2023 recruiting class. Projects to the high-major level with the physical tools and projectable profile that suggest NFL Draft candidacy in the long run.
- Pass Catching
- Can develop his physique further
Miami plays multiple tight ends, many times employing multiple players at the same time, so there is room for Williams to have a role on the offense from the beginning of his career. He has elite talent, and is maybe 15lbs from being a full prototype in term of physical build for the position. Miami would be wise to use him as often as he can handle because he’s that kind of good.
The amount of talent in Miami’s Tight End room will probably preclude Williams from being THE star player early on. But there’s good reason to believe that, in time, he will be at the top of the list. And, though his numbers might not be massive with what Miami’s future run game (if things go to Cristobal’s plan) and other options at receiver and tight end, but Williams should be a top of the rotation player, and in line to continue Miami’s run of excellence at Tight End in the NFL in years to come.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.