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September 7, 2011
MISSION VIEJO, Calif. - Deion Williams looks mean.
Fifteen minutes before his Orange (Calif.) Lutheran team faced off against South Jordan (Utah) Bingham in the Mission Viejo Kickoff Classic last weekend, Williams paced behind his teammates near the 40-yard line.
His helmet on, walking back and forth, saying nothing. Just walking, as bulging muscles poked through his red, Lutheran uniform.
A few minutes later, he trotted over to the trainer to get both wrists taped, the final preparation before taking the field and unloading a hellish torrent of toughness and aggression against Bingham's offensive line.
Williams, a three-star prospect by Rivals.com who committed to Duke in May, played defensive end all game and finished with a sack, a fumble recovery and a bunch of tackles.
He'll move to linebacker in college but for his Lutheran team he'll play anywhere - and play tough at all times.
"I can't say enough about him," Orange Lutheran coach Jim Kunau said.
"His leadership, his contagious competitiveness, there aren't enough good things to say about Deion and that's why Duke offered him a scholarship and why he's committed to Duke. He's that kind of human being. He's that kind of competitor."
The pregame ritual of walking back-and-forth behind his teammates while they warm up might not intentionally serve as a warning to the other team but it sure looks menacing. Its intention is something else, but Williams doesn't mind knowing he could be getting in the head of his opponents.
"I just focus up," Williams said. "There is a lot of noise in the pregame, people yelling and all that stuff, and I just try to block that out and focus on what I'm doing."
It might not be done for a specific purpose but Williams, who shined at the Los Angeles NIKE Camp this spring, does seem to be more engaged after walking by his teammates time and again. There's no doubt he's ready to go from the first snap.
"I really draw my strength from all my teammates," Williams said. "We really worked hard all summer and spring just preparing for this game and the season. I draw everything I have from my teammates.
"Each one of us leads the team by the way we play. I choose to lead the team with the way I play."
Many outstanding prospects - including four-star wide receiver Jordan Payton, four-star cornerback Ishmael Adams, the nation's top-rated fullback Jahleel Pinner, four-star tight end and Lutheran teammate Christo Kourtzidis and many others - were featured last weekend, but Williams was arguably the most productive of them all.
That's why there is a feeling that Duke is getting a major steal in Williams, who helped lead Lutheran past Bingham, 42-7.
His time at Duke, Williams said, will set him up for the rest of his life, something he believes too many prospects fail to consider when looking at programs.
"I don't think a lot of people look at the big picture," Williams said. "I think they look at what's going on right now. A Duke scholarship means a lot. I always wanted big things for myself and that's why I made that decision."
Williams, who visited Duke for its spring game last March, plans on sticking by his word.
More programs - perhaps even some Pac-12 clubs - will probably take interest in him this season especially if he continues to play so well. But he gave his word to the Blue Devils. One look in his eyes and it's easy to tell he means business.
"Whoever wants me can come and talk to me but I'm pretty sure with Duke," Williams said. "It definitely prepares me athletically and most importantly academically."