Terrell Williams, the 2008 Thorp Award winner from Hempstead, has signed to play football for American International College this fall.
Williams, 19, spent last year at St. Thomas More preparatory school in Oakdale, Conn., where the running back worked on his grades in order to attain NCAA eligibility. He was named Post-Graduate athlete of the year at the school after successful football, basketball and lacrosse campaigns, and he made the Honor Roll for the third and fourth marking periods.
"He's really made good strides in the classroom," said AIC offensive coordinator Dave Beaudin. "That, more than anything, shows the lightbulb's gone on."
For his efforts on the gridiron, which included touchdown runs of 78 and 63 yards, Williams was named All New England Prep Class C.
At Hempstead, Williams set nine school records, including career touchdowns (42) and all-purpose yards (4,799). In 2008, the do-it-all talent had five runs of 50+ yards, four return touchdowns (two kickoffs, one interception and a fumble recovery), five receiving touchdowns and 61 tackles as he became the sixth Hempstead player to win the Thorp Award (given to Nassau's most outstanding player).
Division I schools such as UConn, Syracuse and Maryland showed interest in Williams, but he said their pursuit waned during his year in prep school.
"It's my fault because I wasn't really focused," said Williams, who added he's gained about 20 pounds of muscle to the 190-pound frame he sported his senior season. "I got my head screwed on now. It doesn't matter where you go as long as you have the work ethic."
Though Williams holds tight the dream of playing at a big-time college program, and even in the NFL eventually, he said he is content with his choice to play at the Division II school in Springfield, Mass.
"My dream is to make it to the NFL, but if that doesn't work out, I have to make sure I get a good education," he said. "A few people told me how good [AIC] was, and I fell in love with it."
Williams will likely make his Long Island homecoming on Sept. 11 when AIC visits Stony Brook — another school that showed interest in him. AIC opens its training camp on Aug. 10.