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Las Vegas — The snapshot of Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams laying in a crumpled heap on the turf during the national championship game last January is painful to revisit, but the man who would be the top wide receiver in this NFL draft were it not for that moment has no regrets about that injury.
And he has virtually no lasting repercussions from the knee injury, either.
What does that mean tangibly right now?
Well, Williams told OutKick on Wednesday that he recently ran a 40-yard dash as part of his rehabilitation process. And he said he was timed on multiple watches at 4.4.
That comes 13 weeks after his surgery.
“It’s true,” said Williams, who was at an NFL pre-draft community activity event Wednesday in advance of Thursday’s first round. “It’s coming back, it’s coming back. It’s only 13 weeks [post surgery] though so wait ’til we get to full speed. It’s going to be real scary.”
Full speed for Williams is in the 4.3 range, but make no mistake that 4.4 is elite NFL wide receiver speed. And reaching that speed surprised even himself.
“Yeah, because that was my first time really getting back running certain amount of yards and things like that, so it’s just been going real good,” Williams said. “I’m excited to be in this position. It’s something I have to come back from.”
Williams did not run the 40 at the NFL Combine or at the Alabama Pro Day. He said this was the first of several times he will be timed in the 40 in the coming months.
“It’s just part of the process, really,” he said. “It’s part of the rehab process. We felt we were at that point where we can try things like this. We tried something and it happened to go really well.”
Williams said he’s working on his lateral movement but not outright cutting aggressively yet.
“It’s happening soon,” he said.
Soon has been the operative word for Williams and his recovery. He said his goal is to be ready to compete for whichever team picks him by the start of training camp.
Williams caught 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide last season.
“He’s a speed demon,” said Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean, himself a possible first-rounder also in town for the draft. “He’ll take the top off any defense. We had to keep him in front of us in the back end. He’s a big-play threat.”
Williams was easily the top receiver in this draft prior to the injury and that may change Thursday. But Williams has zero regrets about his fate in the national title game.
“Nah, you can’t second guess that,” Williams said. “That’ the national championship so if you second-guess that would be the time you would be pushing questions about do they love football? You can second guess playing in a bowl game, but this is the national championship.
“That’s like saying, you ain’t going to play in the Super Bowl. How you going to do that? You can’t.”
Williams, who models his game after Randy Moss, is instead focusing on returning to form and proving he’s every bit the prospect he was before the injury.
“I feel like I have a similar play style to him with the speed and how we play the deep balls,” he said. “I want to prove I’m a Wide Receiver One. Before I got hurt I was Wide Receiver One. Skills still there.”
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero