Jeffery Williams was told bluntly that he would never play football again. The Greenup County senior wasn’t ready to accept that answer.
After suffering a Grade IV shoulder separation in the second game of last season, Williams was told by a local doctor he was done with football.
The senior was even told his shoulder would never be the same, and that he would need two or three more surgeries by the time he’s 40.
Williams then found a second opinion.
“I didn’t accept that answer,” Williams said. “I found a doctor in Cincinnati and went to him and he said he’s seen it before and has done a couple of surgeries on (college) football players from Louisville and Kentucky. He said they are back out on the field six to seven months later and I felt really positive about that.”
Williams continued to try and play last season, only to find it harder and harder to have good motion in his arm.
Greenup County coach Chris Mullins said how awful it felt to watch Williams play while hurt, but admits his team is much better with him on the field.
“When he’s on the field, we just play more confident,” Mullins said. “When he’s on the field, we play up. It’s one of those things a true leader can do. Jeffery can get the best from anyone on the field.”
The best example of what Williams can bring to the field comes from the first game of 2012.
Williams rushed for more than 230 yards and four touchdowns in the Musketeers’ season-opening loss to Pike County Central.
That performance is just an example of what Williams can bring to the field when he’s healthy, Mullins said.
“It really was the Jeffery Williams Show,” Mullins said. “On offense and defense, he kind of led the team and brought us back into it. I just hope he has the opportunity to have some good games this year.”
Williams said the 35-27 loss to Pike Central helped him and his teammates forget an 0-10 season the Musketeers suffered in 2011.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Williams said. “It made us feel like a team. It felt great after an 0-10 season the year before, and it made me think about positive things and the way the year is going to turn out. And then the next game — third play — I separated my shoulder and was basically out for the season.”
After having surgery in March, Williams then rehabbed the next five months to prepare for his senior season.
He was cleared at the beginning of the Musketeers’ training camp in August, but suffered a setback in a non-contact drill when he dived on a football in a fumble recovery drill.
With another injury seeming to hamper his chances at returning, Williams was finally starting to think about a life without football.
“It made me want re-guess playing football,” Williams said. “But then I was like, this is what I do. I put three years in it already; why not just finish the last year and finish strong? Now it’s trying to get back before the season starts.”
Williams is expecting to be back by the season opener against Lewis County at home on Friday.
Mullins said if Williams did give up football, the senior would be OK, but the coach admits that not only him, but the entire team are ready to see him succeed when he gets back on the football field.
“The boys hate it for him more than anything. They want to see him have a huge season,” Mullins said. “He’s going to be successful in what he does because of his positive attitude and his positive outlook and because he’s been able to overcome some adversity. He’s a 4.0 type of student, so I know he’ll be successful in whatever he does.”
What impresses Mullins the most about Williams is that while he’s on the sidelines, the captain has done everything he can to help his team.
From getting water to his teammates to giving advice and even filming practices, Williams has been a part of the team has much as he can.
“He’s always at weightlifting sessions even though he was rehabbing and couldn’t do anything,” Mullins said. “He has done anything and everything other than what he really wants to do, which is to be out on the field.”
“I get chills standing here watching them hit because I want to be back out there and hit with them,” Williams said.
Williams, who also plays linebacker, said nothing is going to keep him away from the field on Friday. He plans on taking out a year of frustration in that first game.
“I expect to be back in the first game,” Williams said. “And somebody’s going to pay in that first game. I promise.”
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2658.