Kalen DeBoer's first commitment at Alabama is a familiar one and a massive one.
Ryan Williams, a wide receiver ranked by Rivals as the No. 4 recruit in the country, announced Wednesday that he will recommit to the Crimson Tide. Williams is 6-foot-1, 164 pounds, a native of Saraland, Alabama, and the No. 2 receiver in the country, behind only Ohio State's Jeremiah Smith.
— 𝐑𝐲𝐚𝐧 “𝐇𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐲𝐰𝐨𝐨𝐝” 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐦𝐬 𝟏 (@Ryanwms1) January 24, 2024
Williams decommitted from Alabama only a few hours after Nick Saban announced his retirement, an announcement the player told ESPN caught him off-guard. He reportedly made the decision to decommit only an hour after calling the Tide coaches to confirm the news.
Because he did not sign a letter of intent, Williams was free to peruse his options. And there were many, with Texas A&M, LSU, Texas and Auburn all lining up, according to Rivals. Meanwhile, Alabama replaced Saban with Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer.
Bringing back Williams is arguably the biggest win of DeBoer's tenure so far. The teenager was one of many players to look elsewhere after Saban left, and quite a few have already committed to other programs.
Wide receiver Isaiah Bond, Alabama's leader in receptions last season, is transferring to Texas. All-SEC safety Caleb Downs picked Ohio State, as did Julian Sayin, a five-star quarterback in the Class of 2024 who had enrolled early. Starting left tackle Kadyn Proctor is headed to Iowa in a return to his home state.
So far, DeBoer's biggest acquisition had been former Washington quarterback Austin Mack, a former four-star recruit who followed him from Seattle. Bringing Williams back is a good sign that the coach can keep some of the talented attracted by Saban.