COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A full year later, Nathan Williams is ready to return.
The Ohio State defensive lineman received his medical clearance to play earlier in the week as he attempts to come back from microfracture surgery. As he ran off the practice field on Wednesday evening, he looked ready for action.
How much action Williams might see still hasn't been exactly determined by the coaching staff. But Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer is planning on using the senior in some capacity on Saturday against Miami (Ohio), the first live action Williams will have seen since leaving the season opener last season with pain in his knee.
"He had his first good day (Tuesday)," Meyer said. "He practiced with our defense today and did live work yesterday. That’s going to be up to our defensive coaches, but we’re going to meet on that (Thursday) morning and I’d like to get him on the field.
"If he can’t go, he can’t go. They told us he can go, and we won’t wear him out, but I hope we get him on the field."
His return there would add even more depth and experience to a defensive line that appears to have plenty of it heading into the season.
Before his injury, Williams was a handful on the edge of the line and racked up 17.5 tackles for a loss during his sophomore and junior seasons combined. For now, that reputation and old films have largely formed Meyer's opinion of what kind of impact Williams can have -- but a closer look seems to be on the way.
"He has great hands, quick-twitch guy," Meyer said. "People told me he was one of our better players the last couple years on defense. I haven’t studied him that much, but he looked really good yesterday. He’s a good player, obviously."
Black out: Meyer has no problem turning freshmen loose and letting them play right away.
But he's not going to send them out on the field at Ohio Stadium if they've still got their black stripe on their helmet, which might help narrow down the candidates for work against the RedHawks.
"Hard to play if you don’t have your stripe off," Meyer said. "We had a couple pop off today ... so we’re getting close. It’s going to look bad with a big, black piece of tape on their helmet Saturday.
"Everybody was worried about the buckeye leaves, and they’re going to have a piece of electric tape on their helmet? I’ll get some emails about that."
Jacoby Boren, David Perkins, Najee Murray and walk-on Logan Beougher helped decrease the risk of that for Meyer by getting their tape off after practice, making them full-fledged members of the team based on the incentive program to earn that right. In all, 16 black stripes have been peeled off since the start of training camp.
Hands team: Bradley Roby might eventually become an option in the return game.
But without much experience handling the football in practice, Meyer is leaving those duties to somebody more used to touching it at this point.
That leaves the job returning punts and kickoffs that might ultimately be filled by injured running back Jordan Hall to another offensive player, with receiver Corey "Philly" Brown earning that right this weekend.
"I think (Roby) will at some point, it’s just that he doesn’t carry a ball very often in practice," Meyer said. "So we’re going to work his way in there hopefully, but he’s worked his tail off and at some point he’ll be back there."