In Focus: Derrick Williams

Junior wide receiver Derrick Williams is one of the players the eyes of the Nittany Nation are focused on this preseason. With less weight is his burst back? How are his hands? What's up with that weight vest? Get a full progress report on the standout receiver.

THE PLAYER: Weighing in just over 185 pounds, Derrick Williams has shed 20 pounds since the close of last season. He focused on his overall physique in the off-season and "has pushed himself to get spark back into his step," one practice observer told us. Now that preseason practice has begun, let's take a closer look at the junior wideout.

THE ASSESSMENT:"Physically he looks to be at a high point," one observer said. Williams "pushed hard" with his conditioning and speed training in the summer. As we have reported previously, he even dons a 25-pound weight vest when he is not in the weight room or on the practice field.

"Some of the guys thought he was nuts when he first had it on," one observer explained. "Some called him 'commando' early on, but it's another sign of his dedication — it's impressive that he wears it. He's not required to. I mean right after a workout he'll go put it on. It seems to be paying off."

Currently, he is with the first-team wide receiver unit along with Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood.

As for the state of his speed with the reduced weight, "He has a good step in runs and footwork drills," one observer said. "But how he handles game situations and open space with the reduced mass on his frame will be the proof in the pudding."

With the team getting in some Drill 6 (7-on-7) work during Tuesday's practice session, Williams "has shown good hands" with his receptions. According to another observer, "They were running a lot of intermediate routes (15 to 25 yards), and he was consistent — he's getting better at looking the ball into his hands. It sounds dumb, but you can't do anything if you don't have the ball."

In terms of handling the early coverage sets, one observer assessed William's progress, saying, "Derrick is more mobile, he's more shifty, he can maneuver more sharply with his cuts or on a curl. That is the big strength he has — it's not the flat out speed, it's the unpredictability he gets from his quick bursts. He accelerates, stops, starts, cuts, gets the ball and hits it up field. I'm most impressed with endurance and attitude — he's doing what he needs to to get where he should be. The key is confidence and consistency."

See Williams working out at Lift For Life.

Stay tuned to FightOnState.com for more practice reports on the Penn State football team.

It's day three of practice and here are all of the preseason reports we've featured already:

In Focus: Derrick Williams
Nittany Notes: Power Line (OL)
Follow Up OL Player Notes
Nittany Notes: Position Battles
Nittany Notes: Opening Day Notes
Preseason Kickoff (Schedule, Plan)

Stay tuned to FOS for continuing exclusive reports on PSU's preseason practices.

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