By Joe Fortenbaugh and Wes Bunting
Today is the beginning of a new NFP series, “The Road to the NFL.” Our goal is to take you behind the scenes and show you what life is like for several NFL prospects as they prepare for the 2010 draft.
We’ll be putting together interviews, podcasts and videos of different NFL hopefuls as they get closer to realizing their ultimate dream — playing in the National Football League. We’ll check in with each prospect throughout the coming weeks to keep you updated on their latest happenings.
Today, we visit with Tulane wide receiver Jeremy Williams.
Jeremy Williams is no stranger to adversity.
As a redshirt junior at Tulane in 2008, Williams broke his hand and injured his knee in a 44-13 loss to Army just five games into the season. Then, after missing three games in his third year playing for the Green Wave, his season again officially came to an end when the Baytown, Texas, product underwent season-ending knee surgery, leaving him with just one year of eligibility.
But where some athletes see a problem, Williams saw an opportunity.
After several months of painful rehab, he returned to the starting lineup and put together one of the most prolific seasons for a wide receiver in Tulane history.
“I had a microfracture (knee),” Williams told the National Football Post on Wednesday. “It took a lot of rehab to put a lot of strength back in that leg and getting it ready to go. Just working hard at it.”
Williams returned from the knee injury better than ever, catching 84 passes for 1,113 yards and seven touchdowns. He also carried the ball 38 times for 167 yards on his way to being named All-Conference USA honorable mention.
But Williams’ on-field success didn’t end with Tulane’s 26-21 season-finale defeat at SMU. After the season, the media arts major accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl at Mobile, Ala.
“When I first came in to the Senior Bowl, I started off a little slow, but it’s because I hadn’t played football in a really long time,” he said. “You know, we didn’t go to a bowl game or anything, so I had to get back into the gist of things. And then I started to get used to it, and the coaches gave me a little reverse play during the game…and the experience was just great for me.”
Not only was the experience great, so was Williams’ performance. The wideout caught a game-high six passes for 82 yards in addition to picking up 27 yards on a reverse en route to earning the MVP award for the South team.
His journey to the NFL continued last weekend in Indianapolis at the combine, where Williams ran a 4.57 40-yard dash. He also finished fourth among wide receivers in the 3-cone drill with a time of 6.73 seconds.
While in Indy, Williams met with team officials from the Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans, to name a few. The 23-year-old prospect is now in Irvine, Calif., continuing his training in preparation for Tulane’s pro day on March 19.
When asked if he’s gotten a chance to relax now that the combine is over, Williams didn’t hesitate.
“I’ve got to get right back to it. I’ve got the pro day coming up on the [March] 19th, so I’ve just got to keep grinding.”
Jeremy will be checking in periodically with the National Football Post to keep readers in the loop about what his road to the NFL is like. Be sure to check out the podcast above for our complete interview with him.
Click HERE and scroll down to check out Wes Bunting’s scouting report on Jeremy Williams.