It has been a long time since James Williams has played in an official football game.
Williams last suited up Sept. 5, 2014, the second game of his senior year at Burbank High when he tore his medial collateral ligament and anterior cruciate ligament.
Fast forward two years and the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Williams is ready to help Washington State University as it seeks to improve on a 9-4 mark in 2015, which saw the Cougars go 6-3 in Pacific-12 Conference play.
“I don’t really think about it,” Williams said of the injury. “It took a year to get back in shape and I used my redshirt year to get stronger. I feel 100 percent. I’m stronger than I ever was.”
Williams, who played tailback at Burbank, could see time in a number of roles as a redshirt freshman. In Washington State’s Spring Game in April, Williams raised some eyebrows as he had six carries for 42 yards and scored one touchdown.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to help us win whether that’s running the ball, catching the ball, picking up blocks, (or) playing special teams,” Williams said. “I just want to help Washington State win.”
Although he is far away from Burbank, Williams still keeps in close contact with those at home.
“I talk to coach Brew (Richard Broussard) every once in a while,” Williams said. “We talk about (how) Burbank’s camp is going and also how I’m doing.”
Williams’ interest in Burbank is enhanced because his younger brother Darnell is a junior running back for the Bulldogs. Darnell earned second-team all-league honors last season.
“He sends me clips all the time of his practices so I give him tips and suggestions every day,” Williams said of his brother.
Williams will not get the opportunity to play USC this season and the game against UCLA is at Washington State. Thus, he will not have a chance to come play in front of family and friends this season.
“We will be back in SoCal in the next couple of years to play USC and UCLA, so I will get excited to come home and play when those games come along,” Williams said.
Getting an opportunity to play for a team with lofty expectations is something that Williams is looking forward to.
Washington State is ranked No. 18 in Sports Illustrated’s preseason poll.
“We are very excited for this season,” Williams said. “We had a good season and are looking to build off a good year and I am looking to contribute however I can so we can win as many games as possible.”
Washington State opens the season Sept. 3 at home against Eastern Washington University.