Looks who’s coming to town… at the end of the week Ryan Williams will be visiting Ashburn, VA to meet with the Washington Redskins. Having sat down with the Redskins in Indianapolis at the scouting combine, this will be William’s second meeting with the Skins. The Redskins need depth at the running back position with the departure of Clinton Portis and rumors have been swirling about Williams, who is projected to go early to mid-second round, potentially falling in the arms of the Redskins.
In anticipation of this weeks important visit with the Skins, Ball Hogs Radio sat down for an exclusive interview with Williams: to talk about his time at Virginia Tech, his injury, how his first meeting with the Redskins went and what questions were asked, if he’s envisioned himself in a Redskins uniform, his thoughts on a recent mock draft and more…
Enjoy… and here’s hoping that RW34, aka “lil sweetness” can make his way to the Burgundy and Gold…
BHR: Despite the many holes that need to be filled in DC, I’ve followed you very closely and have mentioned to dozens of people, that I would love to see you in DC. With that said, I just read earlier today, one of the friends of the show, Evan Silva, who writes for NBC Sports, ProFootballTalk and Rotoworld, who’s draft analysis we have great respect for, has you slotted to go #47 to the St. Louis Rams, have you heard that scenario before?
RW: That is the first time I’m hearing about me going to the Rams to be honest.
BHR: Obviously your coming to workout with the Redskins later this week, when your name is being linked to so many teams, the Redskins probably more than others since you live in Virginia and we’re in need of an additional running back, at what point do you begin to envision yourself with these teams, when you start mentally putting yourself in that city, on that team, wearing a certain uniform, etc…?
RW: I definitely think about it, it’s hard not to. About the uniforms, I like all 32 teams uniforms so that doesn’t concern me… In all honesty, I try not to think about it because so much can change until draft day. I don’t pay much attention to mock drafts or what ESPN says because none of them are the coaches or GM’s and only those guys really know who they are going to take.
BHR: Did you grow up a Redskins fan having been in this area for so long?
RW: I was a Cowboys fan in the 90’s but then I began leaning towards to rooting for certain players.
BHR: So if the Skins draft you, which could happen, would it be weird in anyway to put on a Skins uniform?
RW: Not at all, I’m not a real Cowboys fan anymore… I’m more of a wherever Michael Vick goes, that’s who I’m rooting for.
BHR: So I read you had over 20 + interviews at the combine, can you recall the sitdown you had with the Redskins: who was in the meeting, what questions were asked, etc…?
RW: To be honest, it’s hard to remember who all was in that meeting. There were just so many meetings that night, they all begin to blend together. The questions tend to be very consistent from one team to the next: how did you grow up, who was an important figure in your life, do you smoke or drink , do you have a wife, girlfriend or kids, what is your reasons for leaving early, hows your hamstring, did you ever get in trouble with the law, arrests or suspensions from the team, that’s pretty much it, questions like that.
BHR: Was Coach Shanahan in the meeting?
RW: Now that I think about it… I’m almost 100% positive that Coach Shanahan was there as well as the running backs coach.
BHR: I can only imagine how much the meetings begin to blend together.
RW: They do! I had meetings that day from 6:00 in the evening to 11:00 at night, straight through, one team after the next.
BHR: Rumor has it you had the flu at the combine, is that true?
RW: It is true, something hit me hard the second day. It got to the point that my body was getting weaker and weaker by the day. I got home from the combine on a Sunday and truthfully I didn’t get out bed until about Wednesday, I was that bad…
BHR: Did you ever think about not working out when you started to feel sick?
RW: No way! Cause I know there’s going to be a game or a practice that I wont be feeling good and I’ll still have to go out there and do my thing and perform. Peforming is what I do, playing football is what I do. I just have to fight through the adversities and keep going with it…
BHR: How’s the hamstring, is it feeling a 100%?
RW: It feels great, I’ve had no issues at all with it since the season ended.
BHR: I read an article today that used the term “injury risk” when referring to you, put us in your shoes for a moment, how frustrating is it that besides for the 4-5 games you missed due to your hamstring, you’ve never had an injury to keep you out but people only want to focus on that hamstring and give you a label like that?
RW: Truthfully, there are way to many opinionated people in this world. I’ve read articles that people put me in the fourth round and I’ve read articles that have me as the second rated running back in the draft. People are entitled to their own opinions, so I can’t get mad at them but they don’t know me from anything. If they think a hamstring injury makes somebody injury prone, then that’s up to them, but I don’t agree.
Do I think I’m injury prone, No! Do I know I can play through injuries, yes! I’ve played with a banged up hand, collarbone, ankle injury, hamstring, broken fingers, I’ve played through it all, that’s what you do. So you can’t question my toughness and label me as injury prone. I play the most physical position in football, you touch the ball one time and you’re getting hit 4-5 times on that one play, that adds up over the span of a game. Your bound to have your nicks and bruises but you have to be tough to play my position.
It doesn’t bother me, frustrate me or aggravate me, it just puts me in the position to prove people wrong. Many people didn’t think I was going to be a good RB at Virginia Tech but I think I changed their minds, now the same people who are thinking I’m injury prone, I need to change their minds. I believe in myself more than anyone else.
BHR: When your sitting down with these teams, do you get the impression that teams are able to look past your down year last year and understand the circumstances or do you they look solely at the numbers?
RW: Some people yes, some people no. Some people just put emphasis on the injuries and ask why I’m coming out after having the hamstring injuries. Then you have others that comment a lot about my 09’ season.
BHR: I’ve compared you to DeAngelo Williams, you ever get that?
RW: I have gotten that, in fact, I’ve compared that myself.
BHR: Looking at the next level, what running scheme do you think your skill set fits the most?
RW: I think my skills match up in any type of scheme, I feel like I’m good in the open field and I’m good in between the tackles. I’m a football player so I know how to adjust.
BHR: Has it hit you yet that you are no longer a Hokie?
RW: I will always be a Hokie. That’s the bottom line… I may not be in the Burgundy and Orange but I will always be a Hokie.
BHR: I sat behind the bench last year during the Thursday night game vs. Georgia Tech. I want to talk about that game because it paints the picture of what I would think would be a frustrating season for you personally. You all go down early 14-0 and at this point you hadn’t stepped on the field. Finally the third drive of the game you get your chance and you touch the ball five times including a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 14-7, this was the first drive of the game where the offense moved the ball consistently. You only touched the ball 5 more times for the entire rest of the game. I watched you stand on the sidelines and there were a couple moments where I could read your frustrations on your face, how frustrating was last year, splitting time and sharing carries?
RW: I wouldn’t say it was the splitting time that frustrated me, I’m fine with splitting time especially with guys who are as capable as me in contributing to the offenses success. I was frustrated in not being able to play at times and not being able to contribute when I know I can.
For example, in that game, we’re down 14-0 like you said, I come in, we drive the ball and score. At that point I’m feeling great, I had just come off injury, helped the offense score, I felt like I’m back and I wanted to get back in there so I could keep helping and I wasn’t really put in there for the rest of the game.
In reality, the way the series were going, 1,2,3 – 1,2,3, I got a lot of my series skipped because of a turnover or something else, that’s where my particular frustration that night came from. The series didn’t go in order as Coach Hite thought they were going go, but at the end of the day, we got the win and it put a smile back on my face.
BHR; So are those series pre-scripted: You, Evans, Wilson in a rotation?
RW: Yeah, it goes 1,1,1.
BHR: So on your drive, let’s say Tyrod fumbles on first down, your series is done, you need to wait for your next series in rotation?
RW: My job is done, unless I go to Coach Hite or he comes to me and makes an exception. But if he doesn’t come to you then it’s the next guys turn.
BHR: Let’s talk about your decision to go pro, two things: how much did your desire to re-live the success from your freshman year influence your decision and secondly, did you wait for Darren Evans to make your decision, did you all make a decision together or separately? Many people thought your two decisions hinged upon each other; if Darren comes back, you definitely enter into the draft, if Darren goes to the draft, you strongly consider staying at VA Tech, how much did Darrens decision influence yours.
RW: To answer your first question about re-living 09’, nope, 09’ was done! I think I proved to everyone watching what I was I capable of doing my freshman year. As my first year of playing collegiate football, being redshirted with zero experience being able to come in and contribute the way I did, I felt great about that.
But going back to the re-living idea, I honestly feel like the faster I can get to the league the better. I can spend more time getting my body banged up in the NFL compared to college. The time is ticking for a running back and I know that, there is only so many hits your body can take before it wears down and I’d rather wear down my body in the NFL than in college.
As for the question in regards to Darren and I, we talked about it for sure… Darren was really leaning towards leaving and I was very much torn in between. Once I started to weigh the pro’s and cons and once I started to do that, I thought it was best to pursue my dream and go to the NFL.
BHR: So I remember being in Miami for the Orange Bowl and that 4th quarter was rough, are you saying, as you were standing on the sidelines, you still hadn’t made up your mind yet?
RW: I was still thinking through all the options at that point, I wasn’t 100% on what I was going to do.
BHR: Before I let you go, I’d like to ask you about your former teammate and good friend of the show, TE Andre Smith, who like you is getting ready for the NFL Draft in a couple weeks.
RW: Andre is my man! I can honestly say that Andre is probably my favorite to ever run behind. He absolutely terrorizes people. I feel like with his body and size, being a tight-end, he’s an amazing blocker but what many people don’t realize is that he’s a tremendous receiver. He caught a lot of touchdowns for us, I think he’s going to be great at the next level. He’s got the body, the attitude and I know once people realize his offensive skills he’s going to be a beast.
BHR: We’ll let you go… thanks for taking the time to sit down with us, good luck later this week, pull out all the tricks to impress the boys in Ashburn and best luck as you get ready for the draft.
Photos Courtesy of: The Washington Times, Zimbio and Sports Illustrated.CNN.com