INDIANAPOLIS -- Jameson Williams' year of betting on himself has paid off, but not without another significant set of hurdles ahead of him.
The Alabama receiver appears to be on track to clear them with relative ease. Williams told reporters Wednesday he's on a surprisingly short timetable to return from a torn ACL.
"I was hearing five to seven months, but I'm hearing I'm ahead of schedule," Williams said. "I'm six weeks out of surgery right now. I've been walking without the brace for two weeks, without the crutch for three weeks. Hopefully things keep going on this track, and I'll be back as soon as possible."
Williams suffered the knee injury during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. The noncontact injury ended his season on the same night his Crimson Tide squad fell to rival Georgia in a thrilling finale to the 2021 season, and threw his draft stock into uncertainty after a strong first campaign with Alabama.
External uncertainty is nothing new to Williams, even if he's always had full confidence in himself. The receiver spent two seasons at Ohio State and caught just 15 passes combined before entering the transfer portal in search of a better opportunity. Alabama coach Nick Saban didn't wait long to call Williams after he officially entered the portal -- it was approximately two minutes, Williams said -- leading to his transfer to the school and breakout 2021 season.
The proof is in Williams' 2021 pudding, but it's fair to wonder why he couldn't make even a remotely similar impact at Ohio State. The Buckeyes had their own cast of talented receivers -- Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave each are projected first round picks in this draft -- but Williams' sudden outburst at Alabama will prompt questions about his struggles in Columbus.
What is likely to be more important during the pre-draft process is Williams' health status, which will influence his stock even if most believe he'll fully rebound and carry the same potential with him to the NFL. As of Wednesday, Williams feels he's making good progress that could see him back on the field during training camp.
Such a short turnaround would be remarkable -- almost as much as his one-year stint in Tuscaloosa. With plenty of deep-threat speed being one of his defining traits, Williams is already racing past expectations.