Williams, a junior from Woodbridge, Va., decided to leave the team after coming up on the short end of a recent depth-chart change at running back, said coach Greg Schiano. The loss certainly changes the running game's persona, but is in no means a devastating loss or one that will have a major effect on the program.
Nothing against Williams, who worked hard in the offseason and did things the right way, but there is too much talent at the running-back position to go into any type of "panic mode."
Without getting into specifics — Schiano did not reveal how the depth chart changed yesterday — there is a reason Williams came out on the short end of a depth chart adjustment. Could his status have changed again with a good week of practice? That cannot be answered unless Williams decides to return, with the door left open for him.
What went wrong ...
Williams came to Rutgers as the No. 52 running back in the country and a three-star recruit in 2009. He put up great numbers in high school, passing other big-time Northern Virginia running backs of the day like Evan Royster and Keith Payne. The problems began when he arrived at Rutgers and did not fit into the offensive scheme.
Williams was solely an I-formation running back in high school and simply could not adjust to a different scheme. When Frank Cignetti came in and added the fullback back into the picture, Williams turned in a solid spring, but others simply out-performed him to the point where Williams became unhappy with his standing in the team and left.
In his career against Division 1 opponents, Williams averaged just 1.7 yards per carry. The door remains open for Williams to return, but if he does not, it frees up another scholarship for next season.
Fans may have placed unfair expectations on "the Rocket" because of a strong high school career at a visible position. In the end, Williams worked hard, but was not good enough to beat out other backs on the roster.
State of the running game
Savon Huggins — The door is open for Huggins to become the feature back everyone expected. Huggins has the vision, athleticism and instincts to be a great running back and likely has his first true opportunity to show what he can do next week against Ohio.
Jeremy Deering — Deering may never be a feature back, but is a major threat in his current role. Deering is the best receiving back on the roster, after playing wideout his freshman season, and will be involved in the return game now that he is healthy, Schiano said.
Jawan Jamison — Jamison led the team in rushing against North Carolina Central with a strong second-half performance. Jamison is likely the greatest beneficiary of Williams' decision to leave. Huggins and Deering already had their roles within the offense, but someone needs to step in to replace Williams' touches. Jamison is the leading contender. Jamison's best attributes are his shiftiness and cutting ability. He can have a bright future with the program once he finally fully participates in a training camp.
Joe Martinek — Martinek is settling in nicely in his new role as a fullback, but he could certainly play some tailback if he needed to. When you need him to, Martinek will fight for the tough yard.
Paul James — James runs angry. He showed in two training camp scrimmages that he can be a powerful running back in this program. He is the kind of kid defenders don't like to tackle because he moves with such a high motor.
Ben Martin — Martin has 4.3-speed and can stop on a dime to make his first cut. Do not write him off down the road.
Travis Patterson — Back with the team after not practicing during training camp, Patterson brings some needed depth to the scout team.