Antonio Williams gave up Honey Buns — and probably a few other treats — to drop 17 pounds. He weighed 227 pounds when he arrived at Ohio State in January 2016 and weighs 210 now. He feels the difference every time he carries the ball for the Buckeyes.
“I can’t outrun nobody at 227,” Williams said Monday with a laugh. “I feel a lot better. I’m more confident in myself. Confidence is a big part of the college game. Having that is very beneficial.”
Entering his junior year in Columbus, the New London, N.C., native Williams is a name to watch. He may not beat out J.K. Dobbins or Mike Weber, who are expected to split reps in 2018, for the starting job but he’s staying patient and waiting for his chance.
“I think that’s part of the Ohio State tradition,” Williams said. “We talk about the brotherhood. The brotherhood is understanding who you are and what you are for this team and understanding that maybe I didn’t play as much but you have to sacrifice yourself a little bit. That’s part of being a Buckeye. I’ve done that. I’ll continue to do that. Eventually, I think it’s going to work out for me.”
Williams produced when he did get the ball in a reserve role last season, gaining 290 yards on 57 carries (an average of 5.0 yards per carry) and scoring three touchdowns.
Dobbins seized the starting job last year and led the team last season with 1,403 yards as a freshman. Weber gained 1,096 yards in 2016 as a redshirt freshman and rushed for 626 yards last season. Their production is a big reason why Williams may remain lower on the depth chart this season. However, he hasn’t let it affect his preparation.
» GALLERY: Ohio State spring practice
“First and foremost, he’s a pro about how he handles his business,” running backs coach Tony Alford said. “He’s an extremely mature kid. He has improved. He’s probably, in my estimation, one of our top three guys on the team as far as improvement. Obviously, I’m probably biased, but he’s had a great spring.”
Williams will get to show his skills at 1:45 p.m. Saturday when Ohio State plays the annual spring game at Ohio Stadium.
“I think I’ve had a pretty good spring,” Williams said. “I’ve tried to improve on a lot of things. I understand the offense a little better. I’m more comfortable in it. I know where things are supposed to hit a little better. Therefore I’m performing better and faster.”