Miyan Williams Entered 2024 NFL Draft Despite Season-Ending Knee Injury Because He Was Ready to Move On from College

By Dan Hope on March 1, 2024 at 1:07 pm
Miyan Williams

Miyan Williams could have theoretically improved his NFL draft stock by staying in college for at least one of his two remaining years of eligibility.

Williams played in only six games for Ohio State in 2023, carrying the ball just 49 times for 158 yards and three touchdowns, before he was sidelined for the rest of the season due to osteochondritis in his right knee. After undergoing a cartilage replacement surgery in January, Williams will be unable to work out for scouts ahead of the 2024 NFL draft.

While Williams said he hopes to be cleared in time for training camp, the injury and his lack of production in 2023 could both hurt his draft stock. But Williams felt it was the right time nevertheless for him to move on from college and take his shot at playing professional football.

“I was just like finished with college,” Williams said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I've been there four years. It was a great four years at Ohio State. So I just felt like it was just time.”

Williams was Ohio State’s third-string running back in 2023 before he was injured, and it’s uncertain what his role would have looked like in 2024 had he stayed with the return of TreVeyon Henderson and the addition of Ole Miss transfer Quinshon Judkins. But Williams said he never considered the possibility of transferring to another school rather than entering the draft.

“Once I was there, I was locked in with the university,” Williams said. “And then with my coaches, great coaching staff and then with the strength coaching staff, too, (director of sports performance Mickey Marotti) and all them. So I was just locked in since day one from there.”

The knee issue that ended Williams’ 2023 season early was one he had been dealing with since 2017 while he was still in high school. Williams chose to play through the knee damage rather than undergo surgery earlier in his Ohio State career, and the injury didn’t stop him from running for 1,396 yards and 17 touchdowns on just 209 carries in his first three years as a Buckeye. The Cincinnati native had his best season in 2022, rushing for 825 yards and 14 touchdowns on 128 carries, highlighted by a school-record-tying five-touchdown, 189-yard game in a 49-10 win over Rutgers.

After rushing for 62 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries in Ohio State’s seventh game of last season against Penn State, however, Williams finally reached the point that he could no longer play through the injury.

“I literally played until I couldn't anymore,” Williams said. “My knee just kept locking up and I just wasn't able to run. So I went to see the doc and he said, ‘Maybe it's that time to get that (surgery).’”

Williams averaged only 3.2 yards per carry in 2023 after averaging at least 6.4 yards per carry in all of his first three seasons as a Buckeye. He said his knee was bothering him more while he was playing last season than it had in past years, but he believes NFL teams will see improvement in his play as they watch his film from his earlier years as a Buckeye to his later years.

“When I watch (my film) I see myself get better in a lot of different spots like as the years went on,” Williams said. “I think the most way I got better was probably vision-wise, because my freshman year I was just trying to bounce everything outside. And then like as the years went on, I started like actually reading things out.”

Although Williams arrived at Ohio State as a lightly recruited three-star prospect, he says he always set the expectation for himself that he would go on to play in the NFL. He feels well-prepared to make the jump to the next level now because he’s coming from a program that expects its players to carry themselves like professionals.

“The structure of Ohio State, it’s like a professional structure. So it gets you prepared for a lot of professional programs,” Williams said. “The system is the most professional I've ever been a part of. And then just like the weightlifting and just like the running and stuff, like you don't just run. Like in high school, you just run to run. In college, you run for specific reasons, then it shows up in the season, too.”

“I was just like finished with college ... It was a great four years at Ohio State. So I just felt like it was just time.”– Miyan Williams on entering the NFL draft

Williams is hopeful he will be drafted but says he’s “just leaving it up to God right now, just praying on everything.” And he feels blessed to be at the combine even though his injury will prevent him from working out.

“Everybody don't get the chance to be where I'm at right now. A lot of people don't get a chance to even get invited,” Williams said. “It's definitely a blessing, so I got to make the most of it, just take everything in.”

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