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Trieu: UM target Kyren Williams compared to Christian McCaffrey

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Kyren Williams

Kyren Williams had a new text from an unknown number. It said, “Your film isn’t good, it’s great.” Then the message ended with instructions for Williams to call the sender – Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh.

It was during that call that Williams, a junior running back at St. John Vianney in St. Louis was offered a scholarship by Michigan.

Area recruiter and running backs coach Jay Harbaugh had already been to the school during the winter contact period, and Harbaugh and assistant running backs coach Alfonso Smith, had kept in contact with Williams.

“I was excited,” Williams said. “It’s great to have one of the big schools in the country added to list. I’m excited they offered me.”

The Wolverines now join a growing offer list that already includes Notre Dame, Stanford, Northwestern, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, and 19 schools in total.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound Williams contributed in every facet of the game as a junior. He had 2,000 all-purpose yards and 36 touchdowns. He had four sacks and four interceptions on defense. His pass-catching skills have some schools viewing him as more of a slot, others more as a running back, all as an offensive weapon who can moved around that they want on their roster.

"He's a great athlete for starters, that's pretty obvious," Vianney head coach Paul Day said, "but he's a strong kid. Physically, he's very strong, and has great lateral movement. He's explosive, he's physical, really everything you would want. I would say the closest comparison in the college game would be the McCaffrey kid (Christian McCaffrey). He was right at 1,000 rushing, right at 800 receiving, returns punts and kicks, plays defense, does some wildcat stuff, so for us, we move him all over the place."

Michigan told Williams that whatever he wants to play, UM would allow him to do that. That likely means a running back who can motion out of the backfield and line up in different places in different formations.

He has not been to campus yet, but is set to visit Michigan on April 21.

“I plan on committing after the season,” Williams said. “I’ll be narrowing down to a top five during the summer and those top five schools are the schools I’ll take my official visits to.”

A good student, Williams is looking for strong education, tradition, coaching, and facilities in the school he chooses.

He plans to study medicine or engineering.

Wolverines host nation’s top linebacker

Brandon Smith, the nation’s No. 1 inside linebacker via the 247Sports Composite, visited Michigan on Tuesday.

A 6-foot-5, 215-pound junior from Mineral (Va.) Louisa County, Smith is a five-star recruit with offers from Penn State, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida State, Texas A&M, and many others.

He had 117 tackles (18 for loss) and six sacks as a junior.

Illinois sophomore gets Michigan offer

Frankfort (Ill.) Lincoln-Way East’s A.J. Henning, a dynamic slot receiver, was offered by Michigan on Tuesday.

Henning (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) has offers from Notre Dame, Tennessee, Stanford, Penn State and more.

Last spring, as a freshman, Henning finished third in the state (3A) in the 100-meter dash, running a 10.75. He is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 23 prospect in the country in his class.

More information

Kyren Williams profile 

Brandon Smith profile 

AJ Henning profile 

Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.