Louisville Football got its first commit of the 2022 class and he’s an eye-popping talent. DE/OLB prospect Popeye Williams has given a verbal commitment to the Cards.
Thank you to all the coaches who took the time to recruit me and my family. I’ve built some great relationships with coaches. However, I want to thank God, my family, coaches, teammates, and friends, but I am committed to the Univ of Louisville. #LsUp #Flyville https://t.co/MjxjjuV2RN— Popeye Williams (@Popeye2022) May 1, 2021
Williams is a consensus 3 Star prospect that plays for Westfield High School in Westfield, IN. The 6’3 230 lbs prospect chose the Cards over offers from Alabama, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, Tennessee, Purdue, Cincinnati, and Kentucky, among others. He is ranked the 401st-overall prospect and 22nd-overall at his position according to 247sports composite rankings. The incomparable Cort Dennison led UofL’s recruiting efforts.
Williams had an excellent junior season for his high school. He recorded 44 total tackles, a whopping 10 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and he forced a fumble per 247sports. His combination of size and speed makes Williams a legit prospect with the chance to be a high level college player.
Popeye Williams Highlights
Our guys Shawn, Hive, and Sam break down Popeye Williams game.
The 2022 class has finally got its first commitment of the cycle in stud OLB Popeye Williams! Not only does he have a great name, but he’s also a great player with the offers to match.
Standing at about 6’3 230, Popeye is physically ready to play the Dog OLB position from the moment he steps on campus. He’s mostly played with his hand in the dirt, but I think he’ll be even better standing up coming off the edge! He’s very strong with his hands and he definitely has the bend to get around OTs with no problem.
Not only is he extremely mature physically, but he also has developed a couple go-to pass rush moves which he will only continue to improve on under Coach Dennison. His motor is nonstop which has been a very common trait amongst the DL and edge players the staff has brought in since Satterfield took over the reigns.
Overall, I think he has All-ACC potential. Absolutely huge recruiting win for the staff and hopefully they capitalize on the momentum!
Popeye Williams is most definitely an eye-popping prospect. The 6’3 230-pounder has some elite skills that could make him a force in the front 7 for UofL.
Something that immediately pops out in the highlights is the speed that Williams possesses. His burst out of his stance and into a speed rush is tremendous. His speed allows him to beat offensive tackles around the edge and get into the backfield to sack QBs and tackle RBs for a loss. The speed also shows up when he’s pursuing QBs that are moving laterally along the line to by time and RBs running stretch plays or sweeps away from him. He can pursue from behind and actually make the tackle.
Williams exhibits good bend. It allows him to get low and get leverage on bigger offensive tackles. So, when they are attempting to block him, they can’t anchor and stop him in his tracks. He gets low, dips his shoulder, and goes right around them. It also shows up when he uses a bull rush. He’s able to get lower than the tackle, gain leverage, and simply force the tackle into the backfield disrupting the play. He’s definitely not rigid in his movement and it leads into my next observation.
When a blocker is able to engage Williams, he knows how to use his hands to disengage and get to the ball carrier or QB. He uses his excellent strength to break the blocker’s grip and rip through.
Maybe Popeye’s biggest attribute is his motor. He goes non-stop until the whistle blows. He will pursue a ball carrier or a QB scrambling to buy time even if the play design or QB is going away from the area he is responsible for. Often times, he makes the tackle or assists with a tackle.
The strength he has that I mentioned above is also evident in his tackling. Popeye is able to get opponents down even when he’s not in perfect tackling position. Don’t get me wrong, he can make the form tackle we all love, but his ability to grab a guy with one hand and yank him down is fun to watch. The one thing you can count on, based on his highlights, is that when Popeye has a hand on a man, he usually goes down.
Williams has all the potential to be a pass rushing specialist that will make life tough for ACC QBs. I don’t want to pigeonhole him, though. He can be a pure backfield disrupter for any offense he faces. He can stuff running games and get after QBs. Louisville is looking to really bolster the pass rushing from its front 7, especially the guys on the edge. Popeye Williams fills that need perfectly and has all the potential to be an All-ACC performer. Time will tell, but this is an excellent pickup for the Cards.
Coach Scott Satterfield and staff are at it again. This time on the defensive side of the ball. Louisville struggled last year sacking the quarterback, having only registered 21 sacks. Ranked as a top 10 player in the state of Indiana and top 25 player at his position in the 2022 class, Popeye Williams will definitely have an early impact on Louisville’s defense.
The 6’3 230 lb, weakside defensive end (WDE) had a very impressive offer list. Williams turned down schools such as: Alabama, Cincinnati, uk, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, Purdue, and Tennessee to name a few.
Williams’ has elite level explosiveness off the line of scrimmage. I haven’t seen a player this size get off the ball this quickly in a long time. It’s almost like he times the snap count perfectly everytime, before being shot out of a cannon. Williams is one of those players that constantly plays in the opponent’s backfield. It’s like offensive lineman can barely get their hands on him before he’s blowing up the play.
Speed, speed, and more speed is another thing you’ll notice about Williams. Once he gets into the opponent’s backfield, he routinely runs down quarterbacks and even most running backs. With Williams’ speed, quickness, and ability to bend the corners and use his leverage, offensive lineman have a really hard time getting their hands on him. With Williams playing defensive end good luck running any kind of running back stretch, toss, or sweep. Williams has the speed to close off the sideline and force the running back back into the defense, or run the play down from the backside himself. With Popeye’s speed, he is never out of any play.
Having speed on the defensive line is nice, but don’t get it twisted, Mr. Williams is a physical player. Popeye plays the game with great strength and physicality. That same strength allows him to bull rush offensive lineman into opposing quarterbacks and helps him discard blocks like a dirty rag. Popeye’s physicality really shows up at the point of attack. Whether it’s taking on multiple lineman, h-backs, running backs, tight ends, or quarterbacks, Popeye rarely loses a one-on-one battle or misses the tackle.
With Popeye’s combination of speed, quickness, and strength, he can play as a pass rushing OLB or defensive end. With only 21 sacks last year, it seems like Coach Satterfield and staff has begun to address the lack of pass rush in the years to come with the commitment of Popeye Williams.
Williams becomes the second commit of the 2022 class and the first on the defensive side of the ball. He joins QB commit Khalib Johnson. The recruiting season is just getting back under way after a lull due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While Louisville Football is expected to have a small class, the addition of a top flight pass rusher like Popeye Williams to go with a signal caller like Khalib Johnson is a great start to this small 2022 class.