The 5-11, 202-pound sophomore suffered a fractured left fibula in the second quarter of last week's game at Florida. On Monday, he had two screws inserted into the bone to help the healing. There was also repair work done to the muscles in his leg.
The seriousness of the injury means that the Cadillac is finished with football until spring training. It also means that the sophomore with incredible mobility is going to have to cope with the rest of fall semester as a handicapped student.
"It's tough," he says, noting that his freshman and sophomore years ended prematurely with broken bones, something that had never happened to him prior to college when he was virtually injury free. Last year he was lost in the Alabama game with a broken clavicle. "I had no broken bones until I came to college," Williams notes.
Using crutches to move with his leg that is immobilized with a heavily wrapped cast, a player with spectacular running ability is now struggling to hobble along from point A to B and his mobility is further limited because he can't drive a car. For at least the next six to eight weeks, he is going to need help to get to class or any other place he needs to go.
Williams says he realized immediately when he was tackled that something was very wrong last Saturday evening at Florida Field. He says there was a sharp, intense pain. He says at the time he was thinking, "Here we go again. It's been tough, but it is part of the game and I have got to expect it."
Coach Tommy Tuberville says that the star tailback has been struggling to bounce back mentally from the injury, but predicts that Williams will be his old self next season. Williams adds, "I have been down, but I am feeling a whole lot better now."
His sophomore season ends with some impressive numbers. He rushed for 745 yards at 5.3 yards per carry and scored 10 touchdowns. As a freshman he averaged 5.1 yards per carry and netted 614 yards with six touchdowns. Twice as a sophomore, he was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week.
Williams rushed for a career-best 202 yards vs. Syracuse this season.
Last year after Williams was injured against Alabama, the Tigers struggled on offense the rest of the season. Williams says there is no reason for that to happen and points to the performance of the offense at Florida after he went down. His replacement, Ronnie Brown, rushed for 163 yards and Williams notes that the offensive line did a good job of blocking. "Ronnie has the size, speed and quickness," says Williams, who predicts that the redshirt sophomore "will do just as good as job as I did."
Williams also notes that the defense stepped up and played well in the comeback at Florida before the Tigers fell in overtime. "This team is not going to fold just because I got hurt," he says.
The good news for Williams is that the doctors have told him that he should make a complete recovery with no side effects. The running back says he won't be able to do any lower body workouts for several months, but while his leg heals he plans to do upper body strength training.