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Keegan Williams: It was all worth it

Keegan Williams

Keegan Williams is a two-time all-state senior running back at Oceanside Collegiate in Mount Pleasant. He's tallied nearly 4,500 yards and 67 touchdowns the past two years. Still, his recruitment was a curious one. It was a winding process. He said little throughout.

This is how he saw it all, in his own words. And it was all worth it. 



S

o you want to know what it’s like. I mean, you really want to know what it’s like?

The recruiting process isn’t anything like they make it out to be. Mailboxes full of offers, coaches calling and texting your phone, all that love on social media — what you see isn’t always reality. Not for me, at least.

Recruiting, finding a school, the whole process, it can be a lot. It gets frustrating, confusing. It’s worth it though. Trust me, I’m proof that it’s all worth it.

I was trying to choose a junior college just a week ago. It’s crazy that was just a week ago. Signing Day was coming up. I was sweating a little. It felt like time was running out. It felt like people were expecting something big from me. I didn’t think a junior college was really going to impress anyone. It was a humbling situation. I just told myself that, wherever I ended up, I was going to show those other coaches what they missed out on.

Now look. Here I am a week later. National Signing Day. Signing with UNC Charlotte. A Division I program. An FBS program. That’s always been the dream. Even if a week ago I couldn’t see it.

This isn’t a commitment letter. This is just the truth. This is what they don’t always tell you. This isn’t for the five-star prospects picking out what hat to wear. This is for the no-name kid getting up at 5 a.m. in the summer and getting home at midnight in the fall. Don't get down on yourself if things don't happen right away. I almost did. 

(Oceanside) Coach Chad (Grier) told me a couple days ago that Charlotte was going to call. He told me to be ready to answer my phone. I don’t think I took my eyes off of it. I didn’t sleep. I just circled around my bedroom waiting.

I’ll never forget the feeling when my phone finally rang. I saw the 704 area code. It felt like a weight was being lifted off my shoulders. The coaches at Charlotte said they wanted me. That felt good. I talked to Charlotte for the first time, I guess, near the end of my junior year. Now they were finally offering. I don’t know what took so long. I don’t even really care. My first Division I offer. Man, it’s just that feeling.

Some people told me to wait, that other schools might come calling after Signing Day. Charlotte didn't need to wait anymore. So neither did I. They told me we could do something special together. They said they believed in me. That’s all I wanted to hear. That’s what I’ve been waiting to hear. I guess college coaches probably tell recruits a lot of stuff like that. But nobody was really telling me that at the time. I think Coach Chad was the last person to tell me something like that.

My high school football career ended in the Lower State championship game. I remember finding Coach Chad. We were both hurting. He told me that night, walking off the field together, that I wasn’t done playing football. He promised that I still had years left to play. I think, in some weird way, he kind of feels responsible for my recruitment, at least a little bit. He said we’d figure it out. I believed him.

Would things have been easier if I never transferred from Summerville? A Class AAAAA school with all its tradition. I wouldn’t have had to sit out my sophomore season either. I’m not going to lie, I've thought about it. You can't help it. But then I wouldn’t have met my teammates and my coaches at Oceanside. They played a huge role in me getting here. I've always felt like they believed in me. That meant a lot. They all had my back  from the start. I always appreciated that.

It felt like, the better I would play, the more people would notice me. And the more that people noticed me, the more they would want to know. Like, what offers I had. Or why the big schools hadn’t offered yet. I mean, I wish I knew.

I scheduled a couple visits on my own this fall. Some coaches kept in touch. Some you never heard from again. That’s how it is. I got my first offer a couple weeks after the season ended. I think I got like five offers that week. Smaller schools, you know, but it still felt good. I was just thankful. It felt like things were happening. Then it all stopped again.

I don’t really know why. I’ve thought about it a lot. My grades are good. Test scores, all of that, fine. I’ve never really been in trouble. Most people probably think I'm boring. I think I'm funny. All you can do is laugh about it, really.

I guess it did get stressful toward the end though. The pressure just builds. 

My dad used to coach my middle school AAU basketball teams. I would show a lot of emotion in those games when I was little. Probably too much. He told me not to let anyone see that. He said they’d take it for weakness. I guess that applies to life too. So that’s how I dealt with all of this. I kept to myself a little more. I tried to just stay patient. I worked out a lot to kind of clear my mind. I just put up this shield at a certain point to block everything out.

It hasn’t been a perfect process. It has been fun though. We scored a lot of points. We won a lot of games. I think we put Oceanside on the map. Actually, I know we did.

It didn’t always seem like things were going to work out for me, recruiting wise. It did though. 

I know there’s another kid somewhere grinding, probably not getting the love he thinks he should. It hurts. I know.

I’d tell him that one day, it’ll all be worth it. You can’t stop believing in yourself. You'll realize on day that everything you went through was all worth it in the end.

I know this because today I did.

Go Niners.

Keegan Williams