Despite hailing from the same small town that has produced a trio of four-star Arkansas football signees since 2017, Darnell Williams is still somewhat flying under the radar.
The recruiting services have taken notice of the athlete from Ashdown, who has serious potential at the next level thanks to his elite physical tools, but he’s yet to receive an offer from the in-state Razorbacks.
However, don’t expect that to last forever for On3’s second-ranked player from Arkansas in the 2025 class.
Listed at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, Williams’ unique combination of power and speed in high school should net him plenty of Power Five offers before it’s all said and done.
The Recruitment of Darnell Williams
Although Darnell Williams does not yet have the exposure or recognition of a top prospect, he could evolve into a major national target.
As of now, he has just six offers. Ole Miss is his only Power Five offer, while Arkansas State, UNLV, Akron and Western Michigan have offered from the Group of Five ranks and UAPB also extended a scholarship to the in-state star.
It’s still very early in the process, but On3’s Recruiting Prediction Machine has Lane Kiffin and the Ole Miss football program leading the way for his services. That’s understandable given his other options at the moment.
“Ole Miss called me first,” Williams told On3. “They were the first school to tell me they want me there, to be down there and build a bond with the coaches.”
Williams added that he’s developing a relationship with Ole Miss wide receivers coach Derrick Nix, who is harping on him coming down to Oxford, Miss., more often.
The offer from UNLV is interesting for Williams because the Rebels are led by former Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom, who likely had time to get familiar with Williams’ work while in Fayetteville.
Arkansas and TCU are both in the mix with Williams, as well. Arkansas coaches have met with him a few times and TCU coaches like what they see with Williams.
“TCU running backs coach (Anthony) Jones is in love with him,” Ashdown coach Matt Richardson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in December. “He wants to meet him. … The Razorbacks have met him two or three times because he’s been up with Shamar (Easter).”
Williams has indicated he also has interest in TCU, pointing to the Horned Frogs’ run to the national championship last season.
There’s a group of more teams that are strongly looking at Williams but just have not extended an official offer yet. He has made a lot of visits over the summer and been to a few SEC schools along the way.
He has visited Tennessee, Florida and Florida State, with planned visits to South Carolina and Clemson. He has had contact with Louisiana-Lafayette and Mississippi State, as well, and it seems that Tennessee and Georgia have Williams’ interest due to their recent success.
“If you wanna play with the big dogs, then that’s the best of the best,” Williams said of the Bulldogs and Volunteers.
Darnell Williams Scouting Report
Playing at the same high school that produced Montaric Brown, LaDarrius Bishop and Shamar Easter, Darnell Williams is a strong, physical player with breakaway speed. He plays both ways in high school, breaking up passes at cornerback and safety and also torching defenses as a running back.
He looks bigger than his listed 170 pounds. He levels receivers with big hits and is able to knock the ball out of potential completed passes. Williams can also sit back and play centerfield, waiting on and intercepting the deep passes over the middle.
As a sophomore last season, Williams posted some impressive numbers. He collected 35 tackles, eight pass break ups and two interceptions.
At running back, he has the speed to break away from opposing defenses and split the lanes before anyone can even get close. He also uses his strength to break out of tackles and keep plays alive.
Williams has a dangerous combination of speed and strength, and being only a sophomore means he has two years of high school to grow and develop. His physical attributes are a big reason he has been tabbed a four-star recruit by Rivals and a high three-star by On3.
The biggest question is which side of the ball he’ll play in college. If it were up to his high school coach, Williams would play defense.
“I think he’s a DB,” Richardson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “I like him at DB because he will knock your head off.”
What it Could Mean for Arkansas Football
While Darnell Williams flashes as a guard in basketball, football appears to be where he’s headed in college. His physical attributes are very good for his age, so he can tear up defenses for years to come.
His future likely lies at safety in college football, but he has the ability to play and develop at multiple positions.
None of the current Arkansas safeties have the same combination of speed and power that Williams could have. He could bring in a more physical game and ignite the crowd with some big hits.
Indeed, the closest comparison would be former Arkansas football star Jalen Catalon. He was also a four-star safety and stood about 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds. Catalon was ranked as the 20th-best safety in the Class of 2019 and Williams is ranked 17th for 2025.
Historically, the Razorbacks have also had some trouble making tackles in the secondary. Even when they had a great safety in Catalon, they couldn’t keep him on the field because of injuries. In short, the program can always use quality depth like Williams at this position.
Catalon had a monster 2020 season, being named a FWAA Freshman All-American. He had 99 total tackles, three interceptions, four pass break ups, a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. Granted, by the time he was a senior, Catalon had soared into consensus four-star status, but this shows the impact a player with Williams’ physical attributes can have in college.
While the Razorbacks have not yet offered Wiliams, it doesn’t seem like a stretch to think it will eventually. The future is bright for the Ashdown star and with his combination of strength and athleticism, plus two more years of high school remaining, he could be a monster in the making.
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