IT'S UP TO TRIPLETHREAT DERRICK WILLIAMS AND HIS FELLOW FLIERS TO KEEP THE NITTANY LIONS ONTOP
2005 RECORD 11-1(7-1 in Big Ten)
KEY RETURNEES DTJay Alford (Sr.) Pass rushing tackle had 8 1/2 sacks in '05 WR Deon Butler(Soph.) A former walk-on DB, Butler had a team-high 37 catches for 691 yardsand nine TDs LB Paul Posluszny (Sr.) Bednarik and Butkus winner recovering fromright knee injury suffered in Orange Bowl
BIG MAN ON CAMPUSSenior left tackle Levi Brown dominates opponents with his size: He's 6'6",320 pounds and wears a size 18 shoe. Victims of what Brown calls his"overaggressive" pass blocking endure insult as well as injury."After he pancakes somebody he'll lie down on him and take a look athim," says Alford. "Levi says he's not a mean guy on the field, but Ithink he is."
When DerrickWilliams was five years old, he began honing his speed-the 4.25-in-the-40,destined-to-make-millions-playing-on-Sunday kind-before dawn on the Marylandcampus in College Park. At 5 a.m. his dad, Dwight, would awaken Derrick and hisolder brother, Domonique, take them to Cole Field House, make them climbthrough a window if no door was unlocked and then put them to work running thearena's stairs. "My dad had an opportunity to play in the NFL, but hisdownfall was his lack of speed," says Derrick, whose father was alinebacker at Langston University in the early '70s. "So he'd have us raceagainst older kids. I got my speed there."
The nation's No.1 recruit in 2005, out of Eleanor Roosevelt High in Greenbelt, Md., Williamshad just begun to flash his fleet feet as a triple-threat freshman before abroken left arm in the seventh game ended his season. At the time of his injuryhe was the Nittany Lions' leading receiver with 22 catches for 289 yards andone touchdown. Williams also carried 22 times for 105 yards and threetouchdowns, and returned 13 kickoffs for a 21.1-yard average. On Sept. 24against Northwestern, his 36-yard game-winning TD reception with 51 secondsremaining not only established him as a bona fide game-breaker but also provedpivotal for Penn State, which went on to win the Big Ten championship anddefeat Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Now healthy-heunderwent surgery last October and had a metal plate and 12 screws insertedinto his arm-the 6-foot, 202-pound Williams will again play a central role inthe offense. In 2005 he lined up at wideout, flanker and tailback. This year,with strong-armed junior Anthony Morelli taking over at quarterback, the Lions'staff is designing plays that will capitalize on the speed of Williams and twoother sophomore wideouts, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood. "[Williams] givesa different dimension because he has that extra step," 79-year-old coachJoe Paterno says. "We have to find ways to get him the football."
After adding 11pounds of muscle since last fall, Williams plans to attack the 2006 season theway he did the Cole Field House stairs 14 years ago. "I'm hungry to showpeople what I've got," he says. "My goal is to have a dominantyear."