Ryan defensive tackle J.T. Williams picks Southern Miss

Ryan senior defensive tackle signed with Southern Miss on Wednesday. He chose the Golden Eagles over Massachusetts and Houston Baptist. (Mike Mezuel II/For the Denton Record-Chronicle)

A few months ago, it looked as if J.T. Williams was headed to the Southeastern Conference.

Then a few weeks ago, the stress mounted as Williams’ options to play college football dwindled.

The Ryan senior defensive tackle could finally breathe easy on Wednesday morning when he signed with Southern Miss.

“I feel like that was the best fit,” Williams said. “I could see myself playing there the next four to five years, and I just feel like I’m going to go down there and do some amazing things.”

Williams’ tumultuous recruiting experience is finally over. Over the weekend, he took a last-minute official-visit up to Massachusetts and he ended up being stranded in New England because of the weather in Dallas.

When he returned to Texas, an offer from Southern Miss was waiting for him. A day later, Williams chose the Conference USA school over UMass and Houston Baptist.

Southern Miss has struggled the last two years. The Golden Eagles have lost 23 of their last 24 games over the last two seasons. But Williams said that’s something that he was looking for. Southern Miss was also Williams’ best offer.

“I want to go somewhere where I can make a change and turn a program around, and the best fit is Southern Miss,” Williams said.

Last season, Williams had 67 tackles, nine tackles for loss, five sacks and two forced fumbles on a Raiders squad that reached the Class 5A Division II regional finals.

The 6-2, 290 pound senior defensive tackle also carried offers from Eastern Illinois and Northwestern State. He held offers from Missouri, Louisiana Tech, North Texas and Houston, but those places failed to pan out for Williams.

Conroy Hines, the Ryan offensive coordinator and the de facto recruiting coordinator, worked some of the connections he’s picked up over the years to find a place for Williams to call home for the next few years.

“It took a lot of stress off my back. I’ve been stressing the last couple of weeks about where I’m going to go,” Williams said. “I see myself playing there, and I’m just glad Southern Miss came in.”

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