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June 17, 2008While the Nittany Lions are almost all spending their summers balancing classwork and workouts, senior wideout Derrick Williams can sit back and relax.
Well, he could, but he isn't and he won't.
Only three years since he finished his first semester at Penn State, Williams earned his degree in recreation, parks and tourism management in May. With his classwork behind him, Williams is participating in an internship with Penn State's athletic department but is mainly focusing on getting in shape for the football season ahead.
"We're doing a lot of running right now," he said. "Right now we're just trying to get into a good condition. It's not football shape yet but, we're just trying to get in shape."
Staring down his final season as a Penn State player, Williams is working hard to make the most of his last chance at his stated goal of a national championship.
Having already been through an extremely successful 11-1 season in his first year as a Nittany Lion, Williams is already picking out the similarities between this year's squad and the Orange Bowl champs of 2005. Whether it's readily evident to outsiders or not, Williams says this is a team of players that are all on the same page.
"I definitely think being around that team ('05), the leaders, and the captains, we definitely see a lot of similarities to this team," he said. "The goals that I have are just to lead the team the best that I can so we can go to the national championship this year. We have a great team with great chemistry."
In fact, Williams went on to point out just how important the intangibles like chemistry can be when it comes to a team's success. While it's hardly a science, Williams says it unquestionably plays a huge role.
"Chemistry might be the biggest part for a team to actually be great," he said. "All the good teams have good chemistry and I think this team is going to be one of the greats."
While the Nittany Lions have a total of 20 starters returning on offense, defense and special teams - one of the most of any school in Div. I football - Williams says the team is approaching this off-season as though every position is up for grabs. The team is going to be that much better for that very reason, he added.
"We don't ever come in with anybody having a position," he said. "You have to go out there and work for it and I think that a lot of young guys are working hard. It might mean some surprises to where some people play at.
"There's no relaxing right now. We're just trying to stay focused and try to get everybody on that one page of being successful this year."