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September 2, 2004

Nation's No. 1 down to final eight

Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt athlete/wide receiver Derrick Williams has been the No. 1 player for the 2005 class on our board for nearly a year now. The 6-foot-0, 189-pounder with blazing speed and 60-plus offers has narrowed things down to eight, with one official visit scheduled.

"Derrick's final eight, in no real order, is Penn State, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, Southern Cal, Virginia, Maryland and Texas," said Derrick's father, Dwight. "It was hard to narrow down even this far, so getting to five schools to take official visits to will be harder."

However, one official visit is already set.

"We're going to Florida on Sept. 24 for their game against Kentucky," said Dwight. "Florida has always been one of the schools Derrick has wanted to officially visit. We'll choose four more schools out of the remaining seven for visits."

Is there a leader at all?

"No one school stands out right now," he said. "We're starting to get a better feel for the coaches now that they can call. Yesterday (Sept. 1) was crazy around here."

In fact, some schools didn't wait too long before calling the Williams family.

"Florida State, Florida, Southern Cal and Oklahoma all called right after midnight," Dwight laughed. "Penn State did too. We didn't get much sleep."

Virginia, Maryland and Texas all called on Sept. 1 as well in addition to an estimated 20 other schools.

"Like I said, it got a little hectic," he said. "That's why it's a good time to narrow it to eight and start setting official visits. We're going to take three during the season and two during the first two weekends of December and then Derrick will announce sometime in the middle of December because he's enrolling in January wherever he goes."

The USC Trojans were supposed to practice at Eleanor Roosevelt High School prior to their game against Virginia Tech last week, but it never happened.

"They practiced at Fed Ex Field," said Dwight. "Everyone is being pretty careful when it comes to recruiting Derrick as far as following the rules and making sure nothing is out of order. Both USC and Virginia Tech, who are recruiting him hard as well, didn't want to raise any flags by him being there. We watched the game from home and it was a good one."

The season starts for Williams on Saturday as Roosevelt takes on Severna Park.

"Derrick's going to be playing some quarterback, wideout, running back, defensive back and he'll return kicks and punts," said Dwight. "He'll be on the field for pretty much every play. We just have to make sure we keep him hydrated so he doesn't cramp up."

As a junior, Williams rushed for 1,363 yards, threw for 558 more and scored 29 touchdowns on offense. He had three interceptions on defense.

He is ranked as the No. 1 player in the nation by Rivals.com.



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