Since he left Mobile, Alabama back in January following the Senior Bowl game, Derrick Williams' total focus over the past few weeks has been on preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine evaluations in Indianapolis that will help determine when his name is called this April during NFL Draft weekend.
"Everything's focused on football. I work out in the
morning from 8:00 until 1:30 to 2:00, with a little lunch in there, go back to
work at 4:00 until about 5:00 and it's the same routine everyday," the wide receiver told
Scout.com during a recent interview.
"The big thing right now is the Combine and Pro Days, so you're doing a
lot of Combine-specific work. When you're not doing that you might work on your
position. At this point, a lot of NFL players or coaches are coming in to help
you out with things you need to learn about."
A playmaker in every sense of the word, Williams rolled up 1,412 all-purpose
yards in 2008 for Penn State, topping his 1,121 yards during his junior
year. In addition to catching passes and returning punts and kicks, Williams ran
the ball from the line of scrimmage 16 times, averaging 7.8 yards per carry. And
he scored practically every way possible, rushing for one touchdown, catching four
touchdown passes, and returning two kickoffs and three punts for scores.
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Williams' ability to contribute immediately on special teams was a hot topic
when NFL team representatives from across the league chatted with him in January
during Senior Bowl week.
"They definitely noticed the special teams package that I can bring to a
team," he said. "You can give the offense a boost and
you can definitely change the game on any big special teams play you can
"There are a lot of things that can go wrong on special teams, but there
are one or two things that, if it goes right, it can change the game. Especially
on punt returns, if you can make one guy miss, you can take it
all the way."
At the pro level, Williams has the straight-line speed to be a deep threat,
but he also has the quickness off the line to run short routes out of the slot.
The 6-foot tall, 193-pound receiver not only believes that he can be effective
at either position, he's also certain that he's capable of performing at an even
higher level as he continues his development.
"One thing a lot of people
don't know about me is that I'm still learning a lot as a receiver,"
Williams said. "I played quarterback
my entire life, so my college years were my first years playing
"So every day I try to take in something new that somebody tells me about playing
receiver that can help my game. I'm willing to
learn and I'm willing to do everything that is going to make me the
best receiver there is."
Williams learned the importance of being attentive during instruction and
then executing it properly early in his football career. And he even learned how
to handle hard coaching along the way, an experience that he's confident will
help him respond positively to whatever coaching style he might be faced with
daily at the next level.
"Everybody asks what kind of coach I want
to play for and I just say somebody other than my dad," he said with a
laugh. "He was one of the toughest
coaches I ever had, my experience with my dad was the worst experience ever. So there's nothing anyone can do that can really get to me."
Derrick Williams breaks free for a touchdown against Wisconsin in October, 2008.
(AP Photo/Andy Manis)
With his experience at the quarterback position and the versatility he
displayed running and catching the ball at Penn State, Williams will likely draw
plenty of interest from NFL teams who have installed--or are considering
installing--the Wildcat formation into their offensive playbook.
"Yeah, a lot of people are experimenting with that, trying to get their
playmakers the ball in different ways. We ran that at Penn State and sometimes
we were successful," he said. "That has to be built around the offensive scheme and the
other guys you have out there, because you don't want to have just one guy that
they're keying on. You have to have guys out there that the defense has to respect."
As NFL teams get to know the former Nittany Lions team captain, they'll be
impressed with his candor, confidence and will undoubtedly see him as a highly
likeable and respectful individual. But they'll be just as impressed by his
well-rounded skill set, raw talent, and his absolute determination to be a top
contributor to a team's success.
"During my rookie year, I want to be the best receiver and be the best player I can be, and help
the team in any way I can," Williams said. "And if that includes special teams, which I love to
do, that's what I plan on doing.
"This whole thing is like a dream come
true. Even when I do my workouts, I always sit and try to think of how many
people would like to be in my spot, so I try to take full advantage of it. There's
going to be a day when you can't play football anymore, a day when people don't
know who you are, a day when people don't ask for your autograph, so you might as
well take advantage of it when you can. Everything happening right now is
Scout.com subscribers can click here to read an exclusive Q&A
feature with Derrick Williams where he talks about his preparations for the
NFL Combine, some highlights from his career at Penn State, what teams asked him
about at the Senior Bowl and much more.
Learn more about Derrick Williams.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features
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