Alabama WR Jameson Williams ahead of schedule in recovery from ACL surgery with NFL draft looming

INDIANAPOLIS -- Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams doesn't "have a set time" for his return from a torn ACL but has spent his time at the NFL combine showing teams his mobility and walking stability.

Williams said he is six weeks out of surgery on the ACL he tore during the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Jan. 10, and has been walking without a brace or crutches for the past two weeks. As he has transitioned to pool work at the Andrews Institute in Florida, the Crimson Tide's leading receiver is progressing quickly through rehab.

"I was hearing five to seven months [to recover], but I'm hearing I'm ahead of schedule," Williams said Wednesday. "Hopefully things keep going on this track and we'll be back as soon as possible."

Williams transferred to Alabama after spending two seasons at Ohio State, breaking out to the tune of 1,572 yards on 79 receptions. His 15 receiving touchdowns in 2021 were tied for third-most in the FBS while his 19.9 yards per reception ranked seventh.

He was injured during Alabama's loss to Georgia in the national championship game on a play he said he's watched "a lot of times."

"I was trying to see what happened -- I just couldn't believe it happened to me," he said. "It was something I never thought would happen to me."

ESPN NFL draft analysts Jordan Reid, Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay each project Williams to be drafted in the first round, going 30th, 28th and 27th to the Chiefs, Packers and Buccaneers, respectively. Kiper ranked Williams as the best draft-eligible receiver in the draft prior to tearing his ACL but Williams said no team has told him his injury hurt his draft stock.

As he progresses in his recovery, Williams said he briefly heard from running back Adrian Peterson -- who ran for 2,097 yards and won the MVP award in 2012, the season after tearing his ACL. He did not commit to being ready for the beginning of the NFL season but insisted on finding the balance between doing everything he can to fully recover while letting the process run its course.

"As soon as possible," he said. "I won't be rushing anything but really it's going to take time ... I just want to be ready when it does happen."