The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sports

August 12, 2009

WVU football

Williams back, better than ever

MORGANTOWN — Given the choice, West Virginia linebacker Reed Williams would much rather have spent last year on the field with his teammates.

But his surgically repaired shoulders — as in both of them — just weren’t ready.

So he took a redshirt, after his constant nagging of coach Bill Stewart to allow him to play fell upon deaf ears.

“I learned a lot as a player. Sitting back watching I was basically a player-coach,” Williams said. “I got to understand (the game) a little bit in its simplicity and I tried to take it down to its basics. Once you get to take a step back and really look at the game, you start to understand it more. That’s what I did last year and I’m going to try to apply it on the field this year.”

It’s hard to imagine, but he could have a better season than in 2007, when he led the Fiesta Bowl champion Mountaineers with 107 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss of yardage and three forced fumbles.

Last year he played in two games and had 17 tackles before he was shut down.

He received a medical redshirt in the offseason.

Before last year, Williams had played in 38 games over three years for the Mountaineers.

Back and better than ever, Williams is in the best shape of his life.

“My body feels better now than it probably ever has,” he said. “I’m probably in the best shape of my life. Well, not right now, after practice. But yeah, I feel really good overall.”

Including the shoulders?

“Everything is great, and I’m ready to go.”

It’s a far cry from when he came to Morgantown in 2005.

“Man, I have changed,” he said. “I have changed a lot. I remember coming up here from Moorefield; it was a different world for me. I was a pudgy, fat kid. I felt like I’ve leaned up and I’ve changed. This program will change you as a person and a player, and I’m lucky for it.”

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