Cameron Williams was stoked to receive his first college football offer from Arizona when he was just a freshman in high school two years ago.
But the Bakersfield High standout knew that getting more would take time and effort on his part.
After two successful seasons on varsity as a sophomore and last fall as as standout safety and quarterback for the Drillers, Williams was ready to take a stand.
Williams hit the weight room this season, packing on 15 pounds to his former 175-pound sleek and athletic frame.
During that time, Williams began fielding those big-time offers from USC, UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State and Arizona State to go along with a half-dozen other offers.
“He’s a worker, man. He is,” Bakersfield High coach Paul Golla said. “You see him at lunch and he’s in there lifting weights. His goal has been to play Division-I and he’s working for it. It’s all paid off for him.”
Williams said he had narrowed down the list of schools he was interested in to five: Arizona, Arizona State, USC, UCLA and Oregon.
He said he wanted to wait to visit all five campuses, and he got to No. 5 last weekend when he went to Eugene, the home of the University of Oregon.
“I actually had about four to five schools in mind,” Williams said. “When I went up there I was talking to my dad and thinking, ‘Man, can I live here for four to five years?’ And that’s the way I was with every school.”
Williams quickly realized after meeting with the coaches, and seeing the facilities and the community around the Oregon campus that it was the right fit for him.
Williams gave a verbal and non-binding commitment to Oregon, the first FBS Division I commitment for a Kern County football player this spring.
“It was great. They made me feel comfortable,” Williams said. “I felt I could live there. Once I got there … we were talking and they were talking about how bad they wanted me and needed me. Then they asked me a question. It was very hard to answer.”
Williams said the coaches asked him that if he did commit, why Oregon? There was silence for about 30 seconds, Williams said, and instead of answering it, he decided to turn it on the coaches.
“I asked them the question,” Williams said. “I asked them, ‘If I do commit, how do I help you guys?’”
That was the ticket for Williams.
“They explained to me how I can help bring them to a championship,” Williams said.
It hasn’t been the typical ride to stardom for a Pac-12 commit.
Williams was too young to play varsity football as a freshman and when he got to the varsity level, he shared time at quarterback, his childhood position of choice for the next two years while standing out at safety.
Not being the focus of the offense took a toll on the younger Williams. But as he matured, he bettered himself personally through the adversity.
“Knowing I wasn’t the man, we always competed,” Williams said of the quarterback competition at BHS. “I always asked questions to make me better. I knew I had to work harder. It was fun and competitive.”
Golla, who has coached plenty of future NCAA and NFL standouts, has watched Williams grow.
“In terms of Pac-12 talent, he’s right there,” Golla said. “And then you look at his work ethic and face adversity and stay positive, it’s special.
“He grew up being a quarterback, then he’s at safety and splitting time. Then he was full-time at safety. That’s all adversity, but he was always positive. And that’s life. It’s tough, but he balanced it all.”
Williams said he could not be happier about committing to such a prestigious university with a football program that has a winning pedigree like Oregon.
“The people there are cool,” Williams said. “The coaches bring love. They are good guys.”