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Terrebonne's Williams signs with LSU baseball

Terrebonne senior Justin Williams is surrounded by his father Mike Williams Sr. (left), his mother Paula (right), Terrebonne athletic director Joe Clement (back left) and Terrebonne baseball coach Gus Brown (back right) as he signs to play baseball at LSU on Thursday at Terrebonne High in Houma. (Photo by Chris Singleton/Staff)

Terrebonne High senior baseball standout Justin Williams said he spent most of his childhood rooting for LSU’s championship winning baseball program.

LSU’s success on the diamond over the years influenced the young Williams to work hard in the sport so that one day he could suit up in a purple-and-gold uniform and play for Tigers.

Williams’ lifelong dream became true on Thursday when he signed a national letter-of-intent to play college baseball at LSU next year.

Williams, who is one of the nation’s top senior prep baseball recruits, signed the scholarship in front of his parents (Mike Sr. and Paula Williams), his high school coach (Terrebonne’s Gus Brown) and other school administrators. His signing came during the NCAA’s fall early signing period, which began Wednesday.

Williams verbally committed to LSU before his junior season, and he lived up to his pledge by signing to play for coach Paul Mainieri and the Tigers on Thursday.

“I’ve always wanted to be a Tiger,” Williams said. “It’s a big honor. I’ve wanted to play for my home state team since I watched them on TV growing up. It’s a dream come true.”

Williams, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound slugger, is ranked in the Top 5 of most national high school baseball recruiting lists for 2013. He is ranked as the nation’s No. 3 overall prospect according to Perfect Game, and recruiting article ranked him as the second-best outfielder in nation and Louisiana’s top baseball recruit for the Class of 2013.

Williams said signing early will allow him to enjoy the rest of his senior year as a student-athlete at Terrebonne without the recruiting distractions.  

“I wanted to get it out the way because it would be one less thing I had to worry about,” said Williams, the younger brother of former Terrebonne standout and Meridian Community College baseball player Mike Williams Jr.

Brown said Williams deserves the opportunity to play for one of the top college baseball programs in the country.

“God has blessed him with tremendous baseball skills, and he’s using them to the best of his ability, not only just on the field, but also in the classroom,” Brown said. “He’s been doing everything he’s supposed to do to enhance those skills and put himself in this position to be successful.”

As a junior at Terrebonne, Williams was one of the area’s best hitters with a .519 average, eight home runs, nine doubles, two triples, 25 RBIs and a .637 on-base percentage. He earned all-state honors on Louisiana Sports Writers Association team and The Courier/Daily Comet All-Region team last year.

Williams plays shortstop for Terrebonne, but he is projected to play outfield at LSU next year, which he said shouldn’t be a problem because he has played many positions like third-base and pitcher.

“I’m willing to do whatever they need me to do,” Williams said. “I’m just going to play my role and do my best.”

Williams gained some national exposure this summer when he competed in the Perfect Game All-American Classic at PETCO Park in San Diego on Aug. 12 and at the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Aug. 18. He won the home run derby at both nationally-televised contests.

Williams’ strong swing, speed and fielding skills caught the attention of pro scouts at the national games, so there is a good chance he will get selected in the early rounds of the Major League Baseball draft next year.

Despite the draft talks, Williams said he is sticking to his decision to enroll at LSU and major in accounting.

“I’ll be at LSU,” Williams said. “I want to get an education and earn my degree.”

Brown said Williams will have success wherever he decides to go because of his work ethic, commitment to his team, positive attitude, leadership abilities and, most importantly, his love for the game.  

“He’s pretty much in heaven whenever he’s out there on the baseball field,” Brown said. “It’s his love. He’s at home whenever he’s playing. He shows it by the way he smiles out there. He’s just having fun, whether it is in the game or practice. He is just a great leader, teammate and student of the game.”

With his college future decided, Williams, who thanked his parents, Brown, his summer baseball coaches (Marucci Elite’s Chad Raley and Southland Hogs’ Lanc Crochet) and others for helping him over the years, said his main goal now is helping Terrebonne win the District 7-5A baseball title and clinch a playoff berth this season. The Tigers went 13-16 overall and failed to make the postseason last year.

“I can’t wait until spring baseball,” Williams said. “I’ve been thinking about that since the end of the All-American games this summer. It’s been my focus. Hopefully we’ll get to win district this year and make it to the playoffs. I think we have the team to do it. I’m going to try to seize every moment of it.”