Nathan Williams’ quest to return as one of the best pass rushers in the Big Ten has spanned nearly a year, but the wait could come to an end on Saturday when Ohio State hosts Miami (Ohio) if things keep progressing the right way this week.
Urban Meyer isolated Monday’s practice as a crucial step in Williams’ recovery. After missing the majority of fall camp while continuing to heal from microfracture knee surgery, Williams’ partook in practice and performed quite well.
“We’re going to meet again today,” Meyer said on the Big Ten teleconference on Tuesday. “He did practice, (on) a limited basis. We will try to get him in the game. He passed the test to get in the game yesterday. It wasn’t enough to let you know how much he’s going to play.”
Lost since Ohio State’s season-opener a year ago, Williams’ injury is the reason he’s went from being one of the most impactful players on the Buckeyes’ defense to somewhat of an afterthought last year.
Meyer, however, has mentioned Williams’ importance to the defense multiple times, even going as far as indicating he thought this year’s Ohio State defensive line had the potential to match the success his Florida unit had in 2006. Meyer said that’s contingent on Williams’ recovery.
Ohio State is quite familiar with the 2006 version of Florida’s defensive front, as the Gators beat up the Buckeyes’ offensive line in a 41-14 blowout in the national championship game that season.
Williams said he was glad to be back in Ohio State’s plans.
“I feel like last year I was lost in the mix,” Williams said. “As one of the top returning players on the team coming back and getting hurt and then just vanishing off into nowhere (was tough).
“When Coach Fickell would get asked questions about me, he’d just brush it off as if nothing had happened. It felt kind of weird. Having coach Meyer come in here and really having my back through this whole entire process and making (the media) aware that I am here and working my butt off, it is really refreshing and it means a lot to me.”
It still remains to be seen if Williams can make a full recovery in time to be the same player he was before his injury, but the senior expects to be a main contributor yet again.
Microfracture surgery is notorious for being one of the toughest procedures to recover from, but Williams told BSB that he made an extra effort to be extra cautious with time he’s put between putting too much stress on his knee.
During fall, Meyer said Williams would train hard one day and put a day of rest in between another stressful practice. This week, however, it seems as if Williams will go through workouts at a more consistent basis in order to prepare for potential contributions against the Redhawks.
Williams, who ranks second among current Buckeyes with 10 career sacks and 21.5 tackles for a loss, made quite the impression on Meyer from the start.
“Your heart bleeds for a guy like Nathan Williams,” Meyer said. “I'm starting to really know that guy. Taking football away from him, he lives for it. It's been hard.”
A few more productive days and the gruesome recovery process will finally be a thing of the past for Williams.
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