Collegiate career over, Williams looks to impress pro scouts

De’Antwan Williams exemplified his nickname, “The Rocket,” with long touchdowns and big plays at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Now the sixth-year senior has high hopes as he attempts to rocket himself into the pro­fessional level at the Scouting Combine.

Williams, who topped the 1,300-yard rushing mark in each of his two seasons at IUP, is underway in his training for several Combine events, including the Tampa Bay regional combine, the 2014 Beyond Sports Network Collegiate Showcase and the Rutgers’ Pro Day.

“The process has been nothing but exciting,” Williams said.

A Rutgers prospect early in his col­lege career, the former Crimson Hawk is looking to make the most of his opportunities to prove his worth as a potential pro.

Although his productive per­formances at IUP speak for themselves, Williams is taking an aggres­sive approach to his journey.

“I believe I will be able to show off my strength, speed and just my passion for the game at the combine and Pro Day,” he said.

Williams’ first opportunity comes Feb. 26-27 in Virginia where Canadian Football League scouts will evaluate hopeful players at the BSN Collegiate Showcase.

According to a representative of the event, more than 40 participants of previous showcases have gone on to play in leagues such as the NFL, CFL and Arena Football League.

After the showcase, Williams is slated to appear at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ complex for the NFL’s March 1 regional combine, then close out his draft prepa­rations by participating in Rutgers’ Pro Day on March 9.

Williams gained Division I experi­ence under former Scarlet Knights and eventual NFL head coach Greg Schiano despite transferring from Rutgers after an injury-riddled 2011 junior season, and his seamless transition to IUP’s backfield could make him a high-upside target in May’s 2014 NFL Draft.

“I’m setting high expectations for myself, so I’m pushing to get drafted in any round,” Williams said. “I just want a chance, and the sky is the limit.”

“The Rocket,” who averaged nearly 95 yards per game in 2012 despite playing a No. 2 role behind IUP’s record-breaking Harvie Tuck, has long had his sights set on the professional gridiron.

“[Hopefully], everything will fall into place, and next year I will be on someone’s roster,” he said in an October interview.

“It’s been a very long road for me, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve overcome a lot of adversity, and it has made me the person and athlete I am today.”

After posting 1,325 yards on the ground in his debut season at IUP, Williams eclipsed that mark in three fewer games in 2013, finishing the year with 1,347.

The 5-7, 195-pound back also scored 18 touchdowns and broke the Crimson Hawks’ single game rushing record with 315 yards in his final game with IUP.

On top of all those accomplish­ments, “The Rocket” earned all-con­ference as well as receiving regional honors for his efforts on the field.