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December 23, 2008

OU's Williams will test NFL waters

While most coaches were out on the road recruiting prospects for the 2009 recruiting class over the last two weeks, some coaches were out doing a different type of recruiting in recent weeks.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson took an interesting trip to Longview, Texas, in an effort to lock down a starting left tackle for the 2009 Sooners. However, that player is already on Oklahoma's roster: Trent Williams.

"He just wanted to meet (my parents), and it's the first time I've had to go through this," said Williams about an opportunity to leave school early for the NFL. "He just wanted to walk them through the situation and know what to expect and what not to take and just to know all of the guidelines."

Williams has spent the 2008 season in the shadow of left tackle Phil Loadholt and left guard Duke Robinson.

But that doesn't mean NFL scouts, and agents, haven't taken notice of Williams' immense talent on the offensive line.

And agents being in the ears of Sooner players and their families is always a concern for Bob Stoops and his staff.

"He was just educating my parents about what to look out for and people trying to pull the wool over their eyes," added Williams. "He was just educating them in that sense."

Williams hasn't made any declarations about leaving for the NFL following his junior season. But he did make it clear on Monday that he has submitted paperwork to the NFL in an effort to get feedback on his draft status.

"I just went ahead to see what areas I need to improve in or what I'm looking at right now," he said.

Williams watched his teammates go through this process a year ago. Loadholt and Robinson were both highly regarded prospects at the same time last year, but both decided to come back for their senior seasons.

He expects to make a similar decision after OU's national championship appearance next month in Miami.

"They both had their different reasons to come back," explained Williams. "I just saw what a wise move it was for both of them to come back and improve their stock. Plus they came back and we have a chance to go to the national championship. Everything worked out in the end. It kind of opened my eyes."

One of the biggest reasons for Williams to return in 2009 is a chance to improve his stock to NFL teams as a left tackle. He would like to move into that spot next season at OU.

"Trent's folks understand where he's at and what the situation is and how he can benefit for another year," said offensive line coach James Patton. "It's a process they all have to go through. He's got a lot of great football left in him. There's been many examples here on the line, Davin Joseph and Jammal Brown and the guys coming back this year.

"Coach Stoops educates the players every year and every couple of months. He tries to show literature to guys about staying and what it does for their investment down the road."

Williams' draft grade will have a lot to do with his decision in the end. Neither Robinson or Loadholt received a first-round draft grade when they submitted their paperwork a year ago.

Williams doesn't expect a first-round grade either. But what if he did get such a grade?

"Yeah, it would change things. But I doubt that very seriously," said Williams.

But what is most likely to happen is what happened last year with Loadholt and Robinson. Williams is likely to return to OU, where he'll become one of the best offensive linemen in the country.

"He would be one of the most high-profile players here, no question," said Patton.



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