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Purdue’s Lone 5-star Football Recruit Ever Seeks Redemption

Mark Emmert of has a great profile on Purdue’s only 5-star football recruit ever.

Marlin Levison - Strib 09/24/05 - Assign#97755- Gophers vs. Purdue football. IN THIS PHOTO: Gopher running back Gary Russell #24 picks up yardage over the tackle of Purdue’s Kyle Williams #34. IN THIS PHOTO: Photo by MARLIN LEVISON/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Five star recruits are prizes for any football or basketball program. There are currently only 27 5-star prospects per the Rivals 2020 rankings in football and just 25 for basketball. Caleb Swanigan was Purdue basketball’s lone 5-star commit of the Rivals era, and in 2005 Joe Tiller landed football’s lone 5-star prospect.

His name was Kyle Williams.

Williams’ time in West Lafayette was brief, and ended in tragedy. After seeing the field in the first half of the 2005 season as Kyle “Bonecrusher” Williams injuries, alcohol, and drugs ended his playing time after week 7 against Wisconsin. then in late November he was arrested after brutally assaulting two women and stalking a third in one night. While on bail for those crimes he later assaulted another woman at home in Illinois. He has since been in prison.

I am writing this because Mark Emmert of caught up with him recently. Now 33, Williams is serving his sentence and seeking redemption:

“I don’t want to be like this. This is not where I want to be. This is not what I want to be,” he remembers thinking. “I don’t want to be defined by this.”

Williams was in DuPage County for two years, then spent 10 in the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Indiana. He was transferred to Pinckneyville last July to serve his remaining time.

In Indiana, Williams earned an associate’s degree in business and a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies through Grace College and Seminary.

He is proud of that achievement and pleased to discover a studious side of himself that he never knew existed. Williams has become an avid reader, with books and magazines shipped to him by his sister, Tiffany. He enjoys learning new words and expands his vocabulary in his idle hours in his cell. He has taken a keen interest in politics, spurred by the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama and a newfound obsession with watching CNN.

Williams has a long way to go, but it is good to see that he is working hard to get his life back together. Emmert’s piece on him is well worth the read, as it portrays a man that got lost in his own legend, fell into drugs, and probably had concussion issues to boot. It will be a while yet before he is out of prison, but it is my hope he lands on his feet.