Williams Hoping For Successful Return

Ohio State defensive lineman Nathan Williams is nearing the end of the recovery process from microfracture knee surgery. Williams, one of the best pass-rushers in the Big Ten before his injury, is eager to return to the Buckeyes and have an impact in his senior season.

Familiar with the immense depth Ohio State boasts along its defensive front, Nathan Williams knows his course back to the field from microfracture knee surgery will be a bigger battle than simply regaining his health.

And getting healthy enough to return for the Buckeyes in a full capacity is already making for quite the monumental feat, as it is for anyone who's undergone the drastic knee procedure.

"It's been terrible just having to watch and not be able to contribute in the way that you're used to," Williams told BuckeyeSports.com. "I have been playing for 17 years and this was the first year where I wasn't able to do anything.

"I am really looking forward to contributing to a team like this, with the seniors coming up and this great new coaching staff. I am really curious to see how everything will go, but I am looking forward to everything. I am really excited to be able to run again and put my pads on and get the feeling of hitting someone again."

Lost since Ohio State's season-opener a year ago, Williams' injury is the reason he's gone from being one of the most impactful players on the Buckeyes' defense to somewhat of an afterthought.

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 – he was one of the best pass rushers in the Big Ten – but the senior expects to be a main contributor yet again.

Whether that comes in the form of earning a spot as a starter or as a valuable member of the rotation remains to be seen. The only thing Williams doesn't plan on doing is sitting out for the second consecutive year.

"I don't really expect anything – I want to earn everything I get, first and foremost," Williams said. "I feel like my energy and enthusiasm on the field really helps this defense and I feel like they were missing that a little last year. That's what made me feel pretty down about missing last year. It has been rough."

Players expected to have a major impact on Ohio State's defensive front makes for a seemingly never-ending list. It starts with senior John Simon and ends with Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence, two five-star defensive end prospects who are set to arrive in the fall.

Williams could put Ohio State's defensive line over the edge, though. Assuming he is fully healthy by fall camp – which is an optimistic thought, but something Williams truly believes – he could work himself back into his old form.

But that's the most frustrating part for Williams. He thought he was playing the best football of his career before the injury and reaching that productiveness again will prove to be an immeasurable challenge.

"The first two weeks of camp before I got hurt, I felt like I was dominating every single day," Williams said. "I really felt myself improving after a great off-season that I had. Hopefully I can get back to that level and come back mentally stronger and tougher and knowing what I have to do to be great here."

For now, Williams is taking it slow. He anticipates he'll be able to run again sometime in June and from there he'll get into a workout routine that could have him back by the commencement of fall camp.

Given the magnitude of his surgery, Williams has been very conscious about pushing his knee. Understanding that trying to rush things can lead to setbacks, he's instead done everything he can to ensure his knee will heal properly.

Williams hasn't aggravated his injury and is unsure about how effective he'll be once he is in a situation where he's comfortable testing it. That uncertainty is part of the reason he decided to take a medical redshirt and return to Ohio State.

"The top thing I had in mind after I got injured was getting my degree," Williams said. "I knew if I would come back I'd get my degree and that was important to me. I also felt like there was nowhere to go other than coming back here.

"This place has been nothing but great to me and I feel like I have unfinished business for next year. I feel like last year I came in ready to go more than I ever have and I am kind of hungry to get that feeling back again."

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