BROOKLYN, N.Y. (AP) - Abraham Lincoln High School has always been known as a basketball school, turning out NBA players like Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair.
Ishaq Williams is changing that.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound defensive end-tight end has taken Railsplitters football to an entirely new level. He’s attracted 30 written scholarship offers from the likes of national champion Alabama as well as Notre Dame, Penn State, Miami, Florida, Oklahoma, Nebraska, USC, and UCLA.
“We’ve had people who were nationally recruited before, but not like this,” said Lincoln coach Shawn O'Connor, who four years ago saw wide receiver Nyan Boateng go to Cal and eventually wind up in Giants camp this year.
O'Connor said he doesn’t remember the last time a kid from New York City was offered a scholarship from Alabama.
“He’s definitely bringing us notoriety. And the best thing is, other kids now feel they have a shot at something big,” he said.
Williams _ on The Associated Press East Region 25 list of top recruits _ had 43 tackles, 11 sacks (three in the PSAL first-round playoff win against Brooklyn Tech), and three forced fumbles as a junior. That was on defense; he was also a devastating blocker at tight end.
But recruiters have been as excited about his low-key, highly focused nature, as much they like his pass rush.
He took extra courses to position himself for early graduation, which he’ll use to get a jump on his college academics. He added speed training and yoga to his training regimen this summer to avoid injury and increase flexibility.
“All this has forced me to work hard,” Williams said. “I don’t want to be a player who goes to a big school and gets lost in the depth chart. I want to make an immediate impact.”
O'Connor said Williams would excel in a 3-4 defense, where as a standup linebacker he could better use his height and speed to get across the field. Though Williams feels defense will be where he makes his mark, some schools have offered to let him play his favored spot _ tight end.
Williams said he will visit several schools on a nonofficial basis once the season ends, along with his five official visits.
He wants to commit to his final choice well before National Letter of Intent day on Feb. 2, 2011. No matter where he goes, having a national championship coach like Alabama’s Nick Saban as a phone buddy has given Williams a unique outlook for a New York City player.
“I won’t say he’s cocky, but he’s got this air about him in practice that, all of a sudden, his confidence is unbelievable,” O'Connor said. “When you’ve got Alabama calling everyday, it just makes you believe in yourself a little more.”
Still, he remains low-key and focused, unfazed by the attention.