Portland's Riley Williams has college football's elites stopping by Central Catholic
Rams coach Steve Pyne has seen a lot of things in his 35 years of coaching. He hasn't seen many players like the 6-foot-6 tight end.
PORTLAND – Steve Pyne has been very good at his job for a long time.
The Central Catholic head football coach is 172-52 since taking the position in 2003, leading the Rams to four Oregon 6A state titles and placing his share of athletes in Division 1 football programs.
Brady Breeze? Coached by Pyne.
La’Mar Winston Jr.? Coached by Pyne.
Brennan Scarlett, Connor Humphreys and Alex Balducci?
Pyne, Pyne, Pyne.
But here in his 35th year as a head coach, Pyne hasn’t quite experienced something like Riley Williams. The junior is the No. 1 player in Oregon for the 2023 class, a 6-foot-6 tight end with quick feet and power at the point of attack. He’s the No. 74 player in the nation according to 247Sports.
“Brennan Scarlett was probably the most comparable guy we’ve had, but Brennan was destined to be a guy with his hand in the ground — or an outside linebacker type,” Pyne said of the six-year NFL veteran. “But he was a little thicker and not quite as tall. Riley — I’ve never coached a guy that can do the things that he does with his size. It’s pretty incredible.”
College football coaches agree, which has made Central Catholic a well-traveled route during this year’s recruiting cycle. Williams currently hosts offers from Alabama, Miami, Ohio State, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Texas and just about the entire Pac-12. His recruitment took off a little more than a year ago after Pyne sent a few workout videos to a couple coaches he knew.
“Within about two days, Oregon State and Arizona State offered,” Pyne said. “And he was just doing running drills. He hadn’t played a varsity down yet.”
Simply, the state of Oregon doesn’t produce players that look like Williams.
And he’s only getting better.
After the COVID-shortened spring season, Pyne saw Williams take a big leap last summer. During the fall, Williams and Jordan King — a Cal signee at tight end — obliterated opposing defenses. Central Catholic beat Tualatin 44-14 in the 6A championship game, with Williams accounting for 140 yards and a touchdown.
“You could just see this kid maturing, like, this kid’s going to be a problem for people,” Pyne said. “When you’re almost 6-7 and 235 pounds and move the way that he does — he’s physical at the point of attack blocking and can line up split-out as well. He’s a Travis Kelce-type. You’re going to have to move him all over the place to create some matchup issues.
“It’s a nice problem to have.”
Not just for the Rams, either. Clackamas head coach James Holan said the star power of Williams is getting other players around the area seen by schools that wouldn’t traditionally be poking around. Clackamas has had coaches from Miami and Alabama roaming the halls recently.
“We have a kid (2024 3-star OL Devin Brooks) that’s potentially a national recruit, Joey Olsen at Lakeridge (2024 4-star tight end) is a national recruit and then there’s Riley Williams. If there’s a kid on the radar that has a Power 5 offer – especially if they’re in the area already recruiting a kid – they’re going to come in and do their due diligence.”
The Ducksare a big player for Williams and made his final eight. So did Alabama.
Who would have thought one of Dan Lanning’s biggest recruiting battles would have come on home turf against a former mentor?
“We had an Alabama coach come around during the fall and again this spring and it’s nice to meet new faces,” Pyne said. “There’s a little bit of buzz to it [when Alabama is in town.] The buzz is different, if you will.”
— Tyson Alger
Thank you for reading The I-5 Corridor, produced right here in St. Johns, Portland. Consider a free subscription for future unlocked stories or become a paid subscriber for access to all stories and podcasts.
“Lanning has been awesome. There’s no question that he’s got a bunch of guys that work really hard and they’ve developed good relationships with high school coaches and the players. And the facilities don’t hurt.”