The journey back has been a long one for Ben Davis' Lavarus Williams.
Some 16 months ago, the 6-0, 186-pounder had a 200-yard rushing effort against Center Grove H.S. come to a devastating end when he tore his ACL late in the game. The injury ended his season and left his football future very much in limbo while he rehabbed.
He returned to the field this fall, but didn't put up the sort of numbers many had anticipated. An ultra-athletic player who lined up at running back, wide receiver and defensive back this season, Williams rushed 55 times for 174 yards and four touchdowns while also catching 18 passes for 351 yards and another four scores.
Good numbers, but not the great numbers that many had anticipated.
"It's just taken him a long time to recover," Ben Davis Coach Tom Allen said. "Any time you have that kind of injury, I think psychologically, that's the biggest challenge."
While his numbers didn't dazzle, the IU staff has been impressed with what they've seen on tape. And that's why Williams is one of three players from the Ben Davis program that IU figures to recruit heavily along with quarterback Marqueis Gary and wide receiver Tandon Doss.
"He didn't have the kind of year we'd hoped he would, but (the IU coaches) know what we see," Allen said. "He's very explosive and he's big, 6-0, about 186 of 187, a guy who can play cornerback or receiver or tailback."
He's also a guy who has blazing speed. Allen said Williams has run 4.39 in the 40 and he finished ninth in the state 100-meter dash as a freshman. He missed the 2006 track season due to his knee injury, but figures to be back running again this spring and should be one of the state's top sprinters.
Thanks to that speed and his size, Williams will most likely be recruited as a cornerback. He's done most of his work on offense at the prep level, but Allen doesn't see a permanent switch to defense as a problem at the next level.
"The ones I talk to, especially the Big Ten schools, they all like him as a corner," Allen said. "He understands that and we've talked about that. The good thing about our kids is they don't care – they'll play wherever the coaches want them to play."
Williams was originally scheduled to be in Bloomington last weekend for IU's Junior Day, but a last-minute change of plans forced him to miss the visit. He will be in town over the summer, though, when Allen brings his team down to Indiana's 7-on-7 passing camp in June.
That's where IU originally offered Williams' teammate, Gray, last summer, and it will give the IU coaches a good chance to evaluate Williams and determine if he's someone they want to try to bring in as part of the 2008 recruiting class.
Williams Gets Back Up to Speed
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Peegs.comYesterday at 4:05 PM