Buckeyes' Tressel Wary of D-Will

The Ohio State coach knows all about impact freshmen, having unleashed Ted Ginn on the Big Ten in 2004. He sees another young playmaker in Nittany Lion Derrick Williams.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Penn State freshman receiver Derrick Williams reminds him of one of his players, Ted Ginn Jr. The Nittany Lions can only hope Tressel's appraisal proves accurate.

Ginn began receiving heavy scrutiny the moment he arrived in Columbus last year. After a cursory tryout in the secondary, he demonstrated a flair for pass catching and special teams and became a mainstay on offense. A year later, he's one of the most feared big-play specialists in the Big Ten if not the entire country.

Will Williams follow suit? Tressel believes so.

“He can play the game of football,” the fifth-year Buckeyes coach said. “Some guys are fast but they're not football players. Derrick Williams is a football player. He's a great competitor and he's out there having fun. He reminds me a lot of Teddy. They just go out and want to do whatever they can for the good of the team.”

Ginn was a touchdown maker in 2004. Blessed with Olympic-caliber speed, he finished with eight scores on just 59 touches. He scored four times on punt returns including a 67-yard sprint in Ohio State's 21-10 victory over Penn State. And he added two receiving touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns.

This year, Ginn is one of the stars of a lightning quick receiver corps. He and junior Santonio Holmes give Ohio State a formidable aerial threat, regardless of whether Justin Zwick or Troy Smith is throwing the passes. Holmes leads the team with 18 catches for 284 yards and two touchdowns. Ginn has 13 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown and also averages 8.9 yards per punt return and 21.1 yards per kick return.

Just as Ginn did a year ago, Williams and fellow freshmen Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood and Justin King have made a dramatic impact at Penn State. The four newcomers have totaled 45 catches for 765 yards. Butler is the team leader with 17 catches for 325 yards and four touchdowns while Williams has caught 15 passes for 219 yards. Williams' first and only college receiving touchdown was the biggest of Penn State's season to date, a 36-yarder from Michael Robinson that supplied the winning points in a 34-29 comeback victory at Northwestern.

Citing Williams as an example, Tressel said freshmen are better prepared to make an impact than they once were.

“In this day and age, young people get to watch so much football and visualize what they would like to be,” he said. “If they're blessed with all those abilities like Derrick, they have the opportunity to go out and do it. Derrick graduated [from high school] early and was out there in spring practice. As soon as you know the system, your physical ability allows you to express yourself.”

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