Franklin Regional freshman Luke Williams commits to play baseball at Virginia

Wednesday, April 26, 2023 | 4:31 PM

Luke Williams hits the baseball and makes plays in the field with a maturity beyond his years. His coach, Bobby Saddler, called him “the real deal.”

The Franklin Regional shortstop is only a freshman, but he already has his sights on a Division I playing career.

Williams announced Wednesday a verbal commitment to Virginia.

A Cavaliers coach came to one of his games recently, and an offer followed.

“It’s super exciting,” Williams said. “I never thought I would even have a chance of an opportunity like this as a freshman.

“I just thought UVA was a great fit for me, and it’s always been one of my top schools.”

Virginia offered Williams a few days ago, and he pounced on the opportunity.

The timing of the commitment is curious because new NCAA recruiting rules kicked in Wednesday.

The rules prohibit contact between a coach and prospect until Aug. 1 of the prospect’s junior year.

It also does not permit third-party go-betweens, such as travel coaches, to talk to coaches on prospects’ behalf.

This could spell the end of early commitments from underclassmen.

The way it was before, recruits could initiate talks with coaches at any time. Coaches had to wait until Sept. 1 of the recruit’s junior year to start communicating.

Even though Williams gave a verbal pledge to Virginia, he will not be able to correspond with coaches there until he is set to start his junior year.

Could he be one of the last early commits?

“I still would have made my decision without the rule,” Williams said.

“Even if there was no rule, I still would have committed because Virginia has also been one of my top schools since my recruiting process started.”

Williams is hitting .359 with a 1.05 OPS, eight extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and eight runs scored for the fifth-ranked Panthers (10-3, 6-2), who are tied with Fox Chapel (8-5, 6-2) and Plum (9-6, 6-2) for first place in Section 1-5A.

“It’s his work ethic,” Saddler said. “He’s a tireless worker on his game and his speed and strength training. Luke is a cerebral player who has a plan at the plate, and he’s able to adjust his approach during at-bats.”

Williams throws 93 mph across the infield and has a 6.85-second 60-yard dash time.

“That velocity and those numbers are advanced for his age,” Saddler said.

Williams’ brother, Jake, plays Division I baseball at Yale.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at


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