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Archive for Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Miami sets standards for recruit

Linebacker allowed to enroll despite past legal troubles

July 28, 2004

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— The coddling Willie Williams received on his recruiting trips will be a distant memory once he enrolls at Miami.

Williams was admitted to the university Tuesday after legal problems delayed the process. He agreed to meet certain academic and behavioral guidelines that UM administrators did not disclose. University president Donna Shalala said the school had "placed the bar high" for Williams, considered the top high school linebacker by many recruiting services.

Williams, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound All-American from Carol City, signed with UM on Feb. 4. On the same day, he was charged with a felony count of setting off fire extinguishers at a hotel and a misdemeanor battery charge. Both incidents occurred while on a recruiting trip to Florida.

Williams, who was already on probation for a 2002 felony burglary charge and had been arrested 11 times since 1999, could have faced a year in jail. But last month he pleaded no contest, and his probation was extended three years.

The events led UM to review his admission the past several months. UM coach Larry Coker lobbied for Williams, basing his decision on discussions with friends, family, teammates and high school administrators. Coker also said he informally met with Hurricanes players.

Williams, accompanied by family members, read a statement during the news conference. After thanking Miami for another chance, he apologized for his behavior.

"I know in the past I have made some mistakes," Williams said. "But I have learned from these mistakes. Having grown up in Miami, I'm really excited for the chance for me to get to play for the hometown team."

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