Williams Still Not Sure of Status

MIAMI — During an afternoon of Orange Bowl-catered beach revelry Thursday, Penn State players were exposing nothing more unsettling than a few tattoos and some seriously pasty complexions. Then came Derrick Williams.

The freshman receiver tramped down to water's edge bearing a grisly emblem of his bittersweet freshman season — a seven-inch scar, running along the back of his upper left arm. As his teammates took turns piloting Waverunners into the surf, batting volleyballs in every direction and playing games of cards and pool, Williams stood on the beach discussing the broken arm he suffered at Michigan, an injury from which he has yet to return.

“Everything feels good,” he said. “All the X-rays came out great, so…”

Williams' voice trailed off. He didn't complete the thought, which is understandable given that there isn't much more he can say with any degree of certainty.

Coach Joe Paterno had said earlier in the day that Williams probably would not play Tuesday in Penn State's matchup with Florida State. He said team doctors were worried about the potential for nerve damage if he were to be reinjured. It has been 12 weeks since his arm was smashed on a kickoff return late in Penn State's 27-25 loss to the Wolverines, and Williams said he was told he would need 16 weeks to recover.

But if he hasn't been ruled in, he hasn't been ruled out either. Williams has been taking part in practice drills and said he doesn't expect to know until Tuesday whether he will get the go-ahead to play.

“I think it will be a game-day decision,” he said. “If I were to play and get hurt, that would be a big risk for me and for Penn State.”

Williams lived up to his preseason billing in his first seven games before being injured. He caught 22 passes for 289 yards and scored the decisive touchdown in Penn State's comeback victory at Northwestern. But the Nittany Lions went 4-0 in the games he missed, with Deon Butler emerging as a capable downfield target.

That being the case, the Lions aren't panicked at the prospect of facing Florida State without Williams in the lineup.

“I think it's more of a psychological thing for the offense and the receivers,” quarterback Michael Robinson said. “To have a guy like Derrick Williams in there, he's probably one of the leaders of the receiving corps. If we could have him back, I think it would do great things for the psyche of a lot of people.”

Williams said he doesn't have any pain when he catches the ball, but he has been held out of contact drills. He said he believes the coaches are leaning toward not playing him. While he's not happy about possibly sitting out the biggest game of Penn State's season, he appreciates the care the staff has shown.

“To be on a team that thinks about your future and not just one game, you can't ask for more than that,” he said. “I would love to play if that's the decision. But if not, I have to deal with it and get ready for next year.”

NOTE: Juniors Paul Posluszny and Levi Brown said they haven't made up their minds about returning to Penn State next season. Both are thinking about entering the upcoming NFL draft.

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