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Big man on campus; Cougars’ Williams commits to Oregon

The highly touted defensive end chooses Oregon over Stanford, UCLA and USC.

Clovis defensive lineman Keanu Williams, a four-year starter, committed to the University of Oregon on July 11. (Photo by Stan Miyake)

Although still 17 years old, Clovis High’s Keanu Williams is a man with a purpose, and when you combine that with God-given ability, well, the sky’s the limit.  

And at the end of a heavy recruiting campaign the 6-foot-5, 290 four star defensive end chose the University of Oregon, his top school among 22 total offers. 

Stanford, UCLA and USC were among his final top schools but eventually the Ducks prevailed, landing one of the most highly coveted players in California. 

Williams had planned to make his announcement before friends and family at a restaurant, but due to COVID-19 restrictions the senior made the announcement on Instagram Live at his house. He was joined on the couch by his mom, Nani Ratliff, with four hats in front of them.

After personally thanking Clovis head coach Rich Hammond and his mom, Williams announced his choice by opening up his jacket and revealing an Oregon shirt then putting on a black Oregon hat.  

“This is a great moment, great staff, great people around me and a great support system, and I know that the University of Oregon has my back like I got theirs,” Williams said. “Everybody is a family”

Williams singled out his mom as being his biggest fan saying: “You have always been my advocate rain or shine and have always been there for me. I appreciate you and love you tremendously – you are my rock and my No. 1 supporter.”

According to 247sports, Williams is rated as the 27th overall recruit in California and the 21st best defensive end in the country. 

Brandon Huffman, a recruiting analyst for 247sports has this to say about Williams: “Has a quick first step and plays with leverage, using his length to get to the ball carrier and quarterback. Can get caught overpursuing but shows ability to get to the play quickly. Good at dipping and ripping, showing a variety of moves but also using his strength and physicality overpower blockers. Plays with consistency and shows a good motor and routinely makes impact plays. Projects as a Power 5 starter and third day NFL pick.”

Williams held 22 offers in all, including every school in the Pac-12. Other notable schools include Fresno State, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee and Notre Dame. 

Last year the Clovis Sports Report All-Clovis selection registered 82 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and eight sacks for the 7-5 Cougars. In his three-year career he’s garnered 195 total tackles, 39 tackles for loss and 16 sacks.

Coach Hammond has witnessed the talented big man for four years, laying claim to not only his athletic ability but his drive to be successful. 

“The biggest thing about Keanu is that he’s a person who has had a ton of success but he constantly tries to improve and better himself,” Hammond said. “He’s coachable, always challenging himself and is an extremely humble person. 

“Most kids that have success don’t stay humble. He’s excelled at everything he’s been asked to do.”

Blessed with strength, an uncanny ability to chase down ball-carriers, and a run-stuffer, Williams brings a blend of talent and work ethic to a Ducks program who now has the No. 3 ranked 2021 class according to Rivals’ team rankings. 

Williams might have to wait a while to take the field his senior year due to COVID-19. The CIF will formally come out with a decision on July 20 regarding how to proceed with sports for the 2020-2021 season with one option of opening the season in January with a shortened schedule. 

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