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March 12, 2014

Williams welcomed back for OU's Pro Day

Untitled Document

His shirt read 'Sooners Pro Day RB' on the front. On the back was his last name, 'Williams', along with the number he wore after transferring to Oklahoma from Arizona Western Community College.

Damien Williams rushed for 1,499 yards during his Oklahoma career.

It should have been more.

Williams was kicked off the OU football team during the 2013 season. He played his final game in an OU uniform Nov. 13, 2013. He rushed for a season high 128 yards on just 10 carries against Iowa State.


Bob Stoops announced Williams had been dismissed from the team after the following week's game with Kansas State.

But Wednesday morning in the Everest Indoor Training Facility, it was as if Williams had never stopped being a part of the program.

Former Norman North and Ohio University running back Beau Blankenship took part in OU's Pro Day. But he did so without the official shirt worn by current OU players.

Williams was made a part of the team for this one last day - shirt and all.

"It meant everything," said Williams about being allowed to return with his teammates for one last event in Norman. "It's still a family here. I got put off but that doesn't mean I can't come back and join the team and everything. It was a great situation talking to (coach Stoops) and actually being able to come back."

Williams did participate in the NFL Combine last month in Indianapolis. He didn't need to come back to Norman. Stoops didn't need to let him either.

But both wanted this day to happen.

"Yeah, I was worried," Williams said of his initial contact with Stoops about returning for OU's Pro Day. "I played here and played with these guys and obviously I wanted to do some things on my own. He let me come back and I was real excited."

Williams dismissal certainly adds a red flag to his NFL resume. It's raised a lot of questions from NFL teams when he's interviewed.

So what kind of questions is he getting about being dismissed from the OU program?

"It's how I'm coping with everything. How am I going about my everyday life?" said Williams. "Am I still doing the same (negative) things? Am I working harder?"

When asked about what prompted his dismissal from the OU team, Williams didn't want to go into details.

"It was just a school rule," he answered. "I didn't abide by the rules. If you don't abide by the rules you have to go."

And went Williams did, forced to watch his teammates play out a magical season from his couch.

"It was very difficult knowing I had to watch my guys on TV," he said. "I had to overcome it. I still had things I had to handle. I knew that it was my last step and I knew I had to get back on my game."

Talking to Williams after his Pro Day workout Wednesday there was no hint of anger, only remorse.

And appreciate for the Oklahoma program for allowing him to have one last day that felt like he was back home.

"It was great," said Williams. "Being able to come back after the situation that happened was great and me and coach Stoops talked and there's no hard feelings. He let me come back and do the pro day. I feel great."

Williams is now hoping to setup private workouts with NFL teams across the league and move forward with his football career. He's had solid testing numbers throughout the process. The end of his regular season career at Oklahoma was tragic. But he played in enough games to show NFL scouts what he can do.

He's hopeful it was enough.

At least teams are telling him those things.

"(Teams tell me) I'm a great athlete from what they see on film, that I'm fast because of what I did in the 40 and the drills. I've gotten good feedback."

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