East Carolina wide receiver Jimmy Williams (26) broke three toes earlier in the year and is in the process of recovering. (ECU Photo)
East Carolina wide receiver Jimmy Williams (26) broke three toes earlier in the year and is in the process of recovering. (ECU Photo)

Archived Story

Williams on the road to recovery

Published 8:13pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It all happened so fast. Playing against Middle Tennessee State on Oct. 5, East Carolina freshman wide receiver Jimmy Williams caught the fourth pass of his career and planted his foot deep into the Sportexe Synthetic Turf of Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium and turned up field when the searing pain set it.
Shortly after he would learn that catch No. 5 would have to wait until next year.
“I went on a route and caught the ball and started heading up field. I guess when I planted my foot it stuck in the ground, and when I got tackled all the pressure from them trying to tackle me and trying to plant off that foot and run broke my toes,” Williams said. “I actually thought (a defender) had stepped on my foot real hard. I couldn’t feel it much so I just limped over to the sideline. Afterwards when they pulled my shoe and sock off I noticed.”
What Williams, the former Washington High School star quarterback and 2012 WDN Offensive Player of the Year, noticed was that three of his toes were broken and his big toe was dislocated.
“They took me to the locker room and took some X-rays,” Williams said. “When I got back to the sideline they told me that they would have to do surgery on my toes because some were broken and that I would be out for the season.
“When we got back (to Greenville) all the coaches talked to me and told me to make sure that I make sure to do everything I’m supposed to like keeping my grades up and staying out of trouble and that I would be fine.”
Football is known for its highs and lows and in a one-week period Williams experienced the extremes of both sides.
It was only one week earlier that the true freshman found out his red shirt was going by the wayside before the Pirates were set to take on instate rival North Carolina on Sept. 28.
It was originally thought that the former quarterback would likely redshirt the entire year, but Williams saw a window of opportunity and stiff-armed his way through it.
“The way they put it was like it was up to me whether I played or not. Once they gave me the chance to prove myself I was like, “Oh yea, this is what I want to do.’ It made me want to go harder,” Williams said. “I was real happy when they told me (that the redshirt would come off) because I really didn’t know (that it was going to happen).
“The coaches called me back into a room and I was like, ‘Oh man, I hope I’m not in trouble.” Then they told me there is a chance that I could get on the field, but it’s up to me.”
Williams made it on the field and in the first quarter of East Carolina’s 55-31 victory over the Tar Heels he caught a 10-yard pass on his first snap of his college career.
“When I finally lined up I was like, ‘All right, this is it,’” Williams said. “I didn’t see anybody over the top of me so I thinking, ‘Ok, (ECU quarterback Shane Carden) is going to throw this ball to me.’ I wasn’t nervous, I was just so excited and thinking, ‘Don’t do bad, don’t do bad.’”
Williams would catch two more passes during the Pirates win over the Blue Raiders before hauling in that fateful third reception that would lead to the 5-11, 167-pound Washington native to walk around in a boot for a over a month.
“When it happen I was like, ‘Dang. How did this happen? I just got on the field two weeks ago and now they’re telling me my season is over,’” Williams said. “There was a lot of frustration because I wanted to play so bad and it was just taken away from me.”
The injury didn’t take all away from Williams. Upon having surgery he is expected to return to his usual sure-footed self. In fact, in a way Williams gained a year as he was extended a medical redshirt for this season.
“Once I found that out I was good,” Williams said.
Williams, who has decided to become an accounting major, said that he is counting on a speedy recovery and is looking to come back stronger then before.
“My goal is to really to get back into shape. Better shape than I was before,” Williams said. “Right now I have been sitting around for a month. I just got back into the weight room, so my goal is to get stronger and in better shape.”

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