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August 15, 2013Former UAB wide receiver Jackie Williams is transferring to UCF, the school announced on Thursday.
Williams, who was dismissed by the Blazers last week, was their leading receiver the past two seasons and ranks fourth in their all-time records in both receptions and receiving yards. He must sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules and will be eligible for one year as a redshirt senior in 2014.
"This is my first time actually just getting to see the whole atmosphere (of UCF) because any other time we were on the bus and coming to the stadium," Williams said in UCF's press release. "But I really like the campus setup. I went and took a tour today and I fell in love with the campus. My parents, they liked it too. So it was a win-win."
A native of Mobile, Ala., and 2010 graduate of Vigor High School, Williams was spotted visiting Wednesday's practice with his parents. Upon his arrival to the practice fields, he high-fived cornerback Jacoby Glenn who was his former teammate at Vigor. The Knights also have a pair of former UAB assistant coaches on staff in linebackers coach Tyson Summers and defensive line coach Lorenzo Costantini.
Last week, Williams told AL.com that he was stunned over UAB head coach Garrick McGee's decision to remove him from the program.
"I really don't know what caused Coach McGee to make his decision," Williams told AL.com. "I thought things were moving in the right direction and we had the same common goals of winning a conference championship. Apparently, I wasn't a part of that so he told me it was best for me to part ways."
McGee, who is entering his second season as UAB's head coach, later clarified his position on Williams' dismissal, stating it was part of a "culture change" he wants to instill and that it had nothing to do with any improper behavior.
"The mistake I made when I released it undisclosed, that gave everybody an opportunity to speculate on what it could be and that really wasn't fair to the kid," McGee said. "I want to clear it up. That kid has not got in any trouble around here. He is not a troublemaker. He has not failed any drug test. It's just the direction I'm headed in, the culture of the program has to change and the culture of the program overrides talent in my opinion."
Williams made an instant impact as a freshman at UAB in 2010, pulling in 30 receptions for 327 yards and four touchdowns. He caught a 44-yard 'Hail Mary' pass in the Blazers' comeback win against Troy.
In 2011, he led the team with 58 receptions for 607 yards, and caught 10 passes in their win against UCF which tied for the fourth-highest single-game total in UAB history.
As a junior in 2012, Williams reeled in a team-high 52 catches for 799 yards and a touchdown. His last game came against UCF where he caught eight passes for 55 yards. He also returned kicks and punts, including a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown against Marshall.
He recorded a reception in every game he has played at UAB, a streak that stands at 35 consecutive games.