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January 2, 2012

Williams is an early stand out


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KISSIMMEE, Fla. - It didn't matter if it was on the inside or outside of the defensive line, on the first day of practice for the Under Armour All-America Game, Leonard Williams came to play. The 6-foot-5, 254-pound defensive end out of Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland was one of the more impressive prospects at ESPN Wide World of Sports on Sunday, getting solid penetration regardless of whether he was lined up at defensive end or defensive tackle.

His strong performance quickly turned pose the question of which school will be getting his services, something Williams touched on after practice wrapped up.

"I'm open to like five schools right now, but I really have a top three," he said. "My top five is Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami and USC. My top three is Auburn, Florida and Florida State."

Of those three, Auburn appears to have an upper-hand. However, the Tigers are fighting two major factors if they are to get the services of the Rivals100 standout. For one, Auburn has to hire a defensive coordinator that fits Williams' playing style.

"I don't know who I would want them to hire, but I know if they're going to hire somebody I want them to be a 4-3 coach because that's what defense I fit and that's the main reason they're in my top right now," he said.

Auburn would also have to fight off four upcoming official visits. Williams plans to visit Florida State, Florida, USC and Miami, all during January. He said he is not sure the date of the Florida visit, but does know where he stands with Florida State (Jan. 13), USC (Jan. 25) and Miami (Jan. 27). He plans on making his decision on National Signing Day.

Williams' interest in Florida dates back to childhood when he grew up a Gators fan and merges with the hiring of defensive line coach Bryant Young, who Williams said he is very close with.

"I've just been a Gators fan since I was little growing up," he said. "I really love their program."

During the fall, Williams made a few trips to Gainesville for game-weekend unofficial visits.

"I just got to hang out with the players a little bit and see how much they like the school, and they got to tell me about it a little bit," Williams said.

While most might see Williams as a more traditional defensive end, he said Florida has told him he could play either the Buck position or weakside defensive end.

"I don't know," he said. "I guess I'd have to go out at practice and see like how I play best at."

Although Williams said he likes Auburn because of 4-3 schemes, he said the fact Florida mixes 3-4 schemes in does not hurt its chances with him.

"If they run at least a 4-3, I'll be good," he said.

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