Williams joins Fort Ham duo in ceremony
Levon Williams always dreamed of National Signing Day, of sitting at a conference room table and inking a college scholarship.
However, that opportunity didn’t happen at Fort Hamilton because he wasn’t an academic qualifier.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Crown Heights native attacked the books at Nassau Community College and, better late than never, earned the college scholarship he worked so hard to attain, choosing Fordham over Gardner-Webb, Howard, Albany, Tennessee State and Bethune-Cookman.
And when Williams reached out to Danny Perez about a possible signing day ceremony, the Fort Hamilton coach didn’t blink an eye.
“We tell our kids they have a lifetime membership once they join our football team,” Perez said.
On Wednesday morning, Williams joined Fort Hamilton seniors Oluwatobe Akinleye (Columbia) and Mensur Ibric (Sacred Heart) in a ceremony at the Bay Ridge school.
“It was sad I couldn’t do it in 2009 on this day,” Williams said. “I always told myself I’d work hard to come to this day and sign a scholarship. I’m just happy to be here and be part of this.”
An offensive standout at Fort Hamilton – Williams had 28 receptions for 287 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior – the 21-year-old with three years of eligibility remaining has switched to the defensive side of the ball in college. He said the energy of the new Fordham coaching staff is what enticed him.
“I liked Coach [Joe] Moorehead and Coach [Tim] Carey, he kind of knew me from UConn and was recruiting me when I was here,” Williams said. “They’re young and exciting. I just want to be part of that new energy.”
Akinleye, who was named first team All-City by MSG Varsity, also loves playing defense. In fact, the soft-spoken ultimate student-athlete led the PSAL with 16 sacks and added 63 tackles.
“It felt great,” he said of leading the city in sacks. “I know my ability, but I didn’t think I could get so many sacks. We had some great athletes on the defensive line. They helped me.”
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound defensive end/linebacker said he fell in love with Columbia on his official visit last week and chose the Lions over Fordham, Stony Brook and New Haven.
Akinleye, who has a 93-average, beamed with excitement when he thought about becoming an Ivy League student, the first to come out of Fort Hamilton’s football program.
“This is a wonderful experience,” Akinleye said. “It’s truly God-given. A lot of hard work came into production of this scene.”
Ibric, a second team All-City selection by MSG Varsity, had 45 tackles and five sacks for the Tigers, which lost to Clinton in the PSAL quarterfinals. However, despite a strong senior year and a PSAL championship ring from his junior year, Ibric didn’t have the college offers he felt he deserved.
With the help of Perez, Ibric worked on a highlight DVD and that sparked the interest of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield. Ibric was also immediately drawn to Sacred Heart.
“It’s a really nice campus, it’s small,” he said. “You’re not just a number over there. The teachers know you. It just seemed like a family environment.”
While Williams, Akinleye and Ibric were the ones to ink scholarship papers, Perez said it was also a special day for him.
“It’s a culmination of all the hard work they’ve put in throughout the season and throughout their careers,” Perez said. “They’re taking it to the next step.”
Contact Dylan Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter: @Dylan_Butler