ORLANDO – For years, Williams Nwaneri went through the recruiting process, took visits, considered so many options and then by August he was ready to commit.
The five-star defensive end from Lee’s Summit (Mo.) North picked the school less than two hours from home – Missouri.
For Nwaneri, his decision in August was a relief.
“It feels good, like a big weight off my shoulders,” Nwaneri said at the Under Armour Game. “I could just focus and lock in on the season coming up.
“Really, everything (stands out). All the recruits we’re landing, the recruits from the transfer portal, it just feels like the program is going in a great direction. I’m just excited to be on campus and make an impact to the team.”
When Nwaneri committed, though, it was a different scene in Columbia. This was before the Tigers won 10 games, before Missouri became a real threat in the SEC and before they upended Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl.
It was a courageous pick by Nwaneri but relationships mattered most to him when it came down to decision time.
“Ever since the recruiting process started, they were the most consistent with me,” Nwaneri said. “I felt I had the best relationships there. It was just the place for me.
“At first, I was really confused. The whole time until probably about a month before I committed it started to clear up a little bit.
“Talking to my family, talking to my head coach, he just gave me the best advice, long conversations is really all it was talking to my family.”
Those talks with his coach, Jamar Mozee, were especially important since Mozee played for the Sooners, but never pushed them in Nwaneri’s recruitment.
“I feel like he wasn’t biased in any way,” Nwaneri said. “He was coming from a place of caring about me. I thank him a lot.”
Georgia and Oklahoma tried to stay involved with Nwaneri for about a month after his Missouri commitment but then things fizzled out. It was clear he was set for the Tigers – and with his 6-foot-5, 255-pound frame, it’s clear Nwaneri could be an immediate contributor in the SEC.
“I feel like the coaches see me coming in and they want me to come in and play early and cause an impact,” Nwaneri said. “I fit well into their defense coming off the edge, dropping into coverage, just doing anything I can to help the team.”