Just hours after it was known that Nick Saban was retiring as Alabama's head coach, five-star wide receiver Ryan Williams told ESPN on Wednesday that he has decommitted from the Crimson Tide's 2024 recruiting class.
Williams is the No. 9 overall prospect -- and the No. 3 receiver -- in the ESPN 300 rankings. A player out of Saraland, Alabama, Williams had been committed to the Crimson Tide since October, and he was caught off guard by the news of Saban retiring.
"I had no idea, actually," Williams told ESPN. "It's the dead period and I just saw all the other players transferring or declaring for the draft. I was wondering [what would happen], but I found out through Twitter [that Saban was retiring]."
Williams called the Alabama coaches to make sure the news was real, and he said they confirmed that the legendary coach was leaving, which was officially announced Wednesday night. Roughly an hour after the call, Williams said he made the decision to decommit and reconsider his options.
"After Coach [Holmon] Wiggins leaving, it was already hard, because it's my position coach," Williams said. "But you can always find another position coach. With Coach Saban leaving, it's like the legacy leaving. That was the cherry on top."
Williams did not sign a national letter of intent in December during the early signing period and had planned on waiting to sign until his birthday in February. Because he is unsigned, he is free to continue his recruiting process.
The NCAA recruiting calendar is currently in a dead period until Friday, which means there is no in-person contact with coaches and prospects, but Williams already has a good idea of the schools he will consider after building relationships with other coaches.
"Texas has always been one of my favorites because of [Steve] Sarkisian and his offense and they're a big contender, one of the teams that beat Alabama," Williams said. "They're definitely one of the schools at the top of the list for me. Of course, Texas A&M with my receivers coach from Alabama going there, and then Auburn."
Williams said he will visit Texas A&M this weekend and had originally planned to visit Alabama the following weekend. He said he's not sure yet if that visit will take place, and much of that decision will depend on whether Alabama finds a new coach by that time.