Richards' Williams commits to Wildcats

Nothing gets Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald going like a recruit committing.

On Wednesday, Richards junior Jarrell Williams got a taste of that when he phoned Fitzgerald to let him he know he was becoming Northwestern's first 2011 commitment.

"He was fired up," said Williams on Thursday. "That's his favorite thing to say: he's fired up. He told everyone in the office, and everyone was happy that I was jumping onboard as a Wildcat."

Williams, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound defensive back, recently received increased interest from Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan, but felt he couldn't do better than Northwestern and ended his recruitment early.

"Northwestern was easily the best fit for me," he said. "There was no point waiting. I liked the academics, the people around the school. It's just an overall great school."

In Williams, Northwestern gets a versatile athlete. He played running back, wide receiver, defensive back, punt returner and kicker returner for Richards last season.

"He's a playmaker," Richards coach Tony Sheehan said. "He makes plays on offense and defense."

Williams is expected to play defense in college. As a junior, he had 52 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

If Williams had his choice, though, he would continue playing nearly everywhere.

"I'm an athlete," Williams said. "I'll play anywhere I'm needed. I would like to play kick returner, not punt returner, corner and a little bit at receiver if I could."

Being within driving distance of Northwestern, Williams attended every Wildcats' home game in 2009 and liked what he saw.

"It's not a back-tracking program," Williams said. "It's a program on the rise. That helped me make my decision."

Earlier this month, Northwestern signed 17 players to its 2010 recruiting class.

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.