Jonathan Williams most likely headed to NFL after season

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Jonathan Williams has consistently earned the praise of teammates and coaches over the years for his selfless nature.

The Arkansas running back put on his best display of that trait Thursday while speaking publicly for the first time since suffering a left foot injury that is expected to keep him out for the entire season -- and lead to his likely departure for the NFL.

Williams, who led the Razorbacks with 1,190 rushing yards last season, was injured during a scrimmage almost two weeks ago -- an injury that led to surgery to insert two screws to help ligaments heal.

While he said the rehabilitation is expected to take four to five months, he still holds out the hope of being able to play at Arkansas again this season. And he was clear, whether he plays or not, that he is still an active member of the Razorbacks, who elected him as a team captain last week.

"I'm still definitely 100 percent on this football team, so later in the season if I'm fully cleared and I feel good about being able to play and being healthy, I'll definitely try to play," Williams said.

Williams said he has no regrets about bypassing the NFL draft following last season, even though he was a projected third-round pick. The senior did say, however, that while redshirting this season and returning for another year was possible, he is "most likely" headed to the professional ranks after the season.

The only frustration for Williams has been working through the feeling that he let his teammates down because of his injury.

One of the ways he has dealt with that is by reminding himself of the abundance of talent the Razorbacks have at running back, with fellow 1,000-yard rusher Alex Collins leading the way.

"I'm definitely glad it wasn't [quarterback] Brandon [Allen] who got hurt," Williams said. "I'd rather it be me than Brandon, for sure. That would have hurt the team a little bit more."

Williams was held out of physical contact for much of the spring, but he had 11 carries for 66 yards during the scrimmage in which he was injured. He refused to blame the injury on the preseason workload.

"You never want to go into the first game without getting any contact," Williams said. "I wouldn't have wanted [coach Bret Bielema] to keep me out the whole spring and whole fall camp."

Williams is the 10th-leading rusher in Arkansas history with 2,321 yards on the ground, and he was on the preseason watch lists for the Maxwell and Doak Walker awards.