April 6, 2009

Williams enjoys injury-free off-season

Torri Williams is experiencing a hidden bonus to making it through an entire season without injury, something the sixth-year defensive back hadn't done since he was a rookie.

"Besides my freshman year this might be the first full off-season I've been a part of," Williams said. "I'm pretty excited for that.

"I've started to feel my body get back underneath me and I'm more aware of everything that is going on. It's definitely a different vibe for me and I'm feeling pretty good right now."

Coach Danny Hope said injuries provide more problems than the obvious rehabilitation process.

"That's one problem you have to deal with - being injured," Hope said. "But when you're injured it's harder to get bigger and stronger in the weight room and get the same training as everyone else."

Hope referenced offensive lineman Zach Reckman as an example of a player who is much stronger this season due to not rehabbing an injury, which in turn prevented work in the weight room.

"The same thing with Torri," Hope said. "He's been able to get stronger, stay in shape and go through the pre-spring conditioning, the pre-spring position-specific training part of it.

"He's been able to get himself ready to go because he's healthy now and that's a good sign for our football team."

Williams was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media last season, compiling 83 tackles and starting all 12 games. He played safety and cornerback last year.

"I'm pretty much in the same roles I was used in last year - some corner and some safety," Williams said. "I just want to get both of the techniques down, so come fall if I have to play the position, then I'm able to do so."

Williams is trying to learn better techniques for each position, he said, but has no preference to where he plays this season.

"Both of them have different perks to them," Williams said. "On the outside you might be able to lock up a receiver and play man-to-man on safety. Inside at safety you can do a lot of tackling on the running back and sometimes you want to get away from that and go after receivers. I like playing both."

Stopping the run or defending the pass are not the only roles Williams is taking on this spring.

"On and off the field I have to be a leader for some of the younger guys that we have," Williams said. "I approach the situation like I have to be a leader. I come in each and everyday trying to encourage guys and inform them on the things I've been through to try to help them be better football players on and off the field."

Williams is preparing for what is essentially his second senior season. The Texas native went through last year unsure if he would seek a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA. After the season, Williams applied for the extra year and was granted one after suffering three season-ending injuries in 2005, 2006 and 2007. He played in only half of one game throughout the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

"It's fun for me," Williams said. "Each year I get to be around a different group of guys and this class is special, just like the last class was special. I'm just happy I've got the chance to share it with these guys."

Also motivating Williams' return for an extra season is the one thing he missed during last year's 4-8 season.

"A bowl game," Williams said. "You never want to go out and not be able to play in a bowl game or the final game. This whole team is motivated after last year. We definitely want to be playing a bowl game."

Even if Purdue had made a bowl game last year, it would likely not have changed Williams' mind to pursue an extra year of eligibility.

"Probably not," Williams said. "I felt like there were some more things I needed to work on here at Purdue. I'm just fortunate to be able to come back for another year."




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