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Shomari Williams makes his way back into Roughriders lineup

July 5, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

TORONTO — Shomari Williams says that before this year, he would never have described himself as a patient person.

“Definitely not,” he said. “You always want instant gratification and you always want instant results, so it’s tough having to sit back and wait for them.”

That’s precisely what the Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive end finds himself doing these days, however, and apparently, the former Queen’s Golden Gael is a quick learner.

“He understands the process,” Saskatchewan defensive coordinator Richie Hall says, and when it comes to rehabilitating an injury as severe as the one Williams suffered last year, patience is indeed a virtue.

“I like his progress,” Hall said. “You’ve been out eight, nine months, all of a sudden it just doesn’t click in like that. Mentally, he’s all there because he knows his stuff. He’s feeling very comfortable (but) he’s shown me he’s being patient, because he knows better than to go out there and come back too quick.

“That’s what he can control right now.”

Williams injured a knee midway through the 2013 season. With his foot planted he was hit from the side and the meniscus was badly torn. It was the first severe injury Williams, a member of Queen’s national championship team in 2009, had ever experienced and the recovery took longer than he expected.

“It’s been long,” he said, “and it’s been hard. It was a surgery where you recover pretty quick but it takes you a long time to gain your strength back. Probably the hardest part has been getting it up to strength to be able to play.

“It’s good to be back now, getting up to speed on things and feeling right.”

Williams, who went to high school at Brampton North Park, attended CEGEP at Champlain College in Lennoxville, Que., before attending the University of Houston, where he earned a degree in entrepreneurship. He came to Queen’s and played for a year, during which he was named the most valuable player of the Gaels’ Mitchell Bowl victory over Laval in 2009. After helping Queen’s win the Vanier Cup, he was the No. 1 selection in the 2010 Canadian Football League draft by the Roughriders, who traded up for the opportunity to choose him.

After three seasons with Saskatchewan, Williams signed as a free agent with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the winter of 2013 but the injury cut his season short last summer and he was traded back to the Roughriders in the off-season.

Williams is back in the lineup in a supporting role, playing mostly on special teams. He’ll be on the field Saturday when Saskatchewan plays the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre.

It’s a challenge, Williams said, to walk the tightrope of wanting to show your coaches you’re eager for a bigger workload, while the fresh memory of eight months of grueling rehab cautions you not to be hasty.

“It’s a long season,” he said, “so you understand that eventually you’re going to have opportunities to contribute at a bigger role than maybe what I’m doing right now. You have to stay ready and wait for the opportunity to come.

“I’ve learned that it’s a career, so you don’t want to go out there too early and do something that can hurt yourself. It’s about being patient, just trying to stay ready. It’s tough but you’ve got to stay focused on the occasion and be ready.”

Coaches, too, have to monitor such things carefully.

“Mentally you think you can still do it,” Hall said, “but physically, is he feeling sure of himself, doing the things that he’s done before, where you’re not thinking, and it becomes second nature? You’re always going to baby yourself until you feel, ‘OK, it’s strong.’ Then (players) become comfortable enough about it and they can forget about the injury. When you do that, you can play fast. We always want to talk about players who can play fast, because (that means) they feel sure of themselves physically, and mentally they can go out there and do it.”

Williams is eager for that day to arrive. Meanwhile, he’ll appreciate the life lessons he’s learning from the hardship he experienced on the football field.

“You have to understand the process and you have to understand the role that you have,” he said. “If you can, and contribute in the little ways, you just have to build on that, make the most of the opportunities when they come, and wait for the big opportunity.

“It’s tough but it’s part of life. You learn to do things in life all the time. I’m learning patience.”

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From → CIS football

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