OGDEN — When Desmond Williams transferred from Boise State and signed to play football at Weber State, he was a relatively high-profile FBS transfer who stood to be an instant-impact addition to the WSU defense.

“I love what I see out of that kid right now. I think he’s going to be a phenomenal football player. He’s a heck of a competitor and he’s played a lot of high-level football already,” WSU head coach Jay Hill said in Feb. 2019.

Williams had already been on campus for a couple months and was set to change from a linebacker/safety hybrid role at Boise to the likely starting strong safety for the Wildcats.

But more than two years passed before Williams suited up in a game for Weber State.

“It’s been a little humbling, actually. It brought me more love for the game, more love for the people around me, the people here,” Williams said. “I really just got more appreciation for football. It was a really humbling, great experience.”

Williams tore his ACL early in fall camp in 2019, then waited with his teammates as the 2020 season was postponed to this spring.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without being injured … I’m glad to be here now,” he said.

Williams finally took the field Feb. 27 and played a little more than three quarters in a 49-21, season-opening win at Idaho State. He totaled three tackles, two pass break-ups and recovered one fumble.

In an 18-13 grinder over UC Davis on March 13, Williams recorded 10 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and forced a fumble.

“He’s very instinctive. He’s a playmaker. That showed up against UC Davis, just all the tackles he made and he was flying around,” Hill said. “He’s a great leader. The players look up to him because of his playmaking ability and he’s one of those guys who does everything right. The ones that do things right and make plays, those are your best leaders and he’s one of those guys.”

WSU held UC Davis to 13 points on 324 yards of offense despite being without expected starters McKade Mitton on the defensive line (out for the season), Noah Vaea at linebacker (status to be determined after a broken arm suffered at Idaho State) and cornerback Marque Collins (knee ailment).

The Aggies went on to score 73 points on 768 yards in their next game against Cal Poly and are now ranked 15th nationally.

“It’s been a while since we’ve all played, and shoot, since I’ve played. So I think it’s just getting together and getting comfortable every day in practice and just going over to the game,” Williams said. “We kind of made UC Davis a dogfight that we weren’t really hoping for but we got it done and I think that definitely makes use tighter as a team … just knowing that we can come out on top like that.”

Williams credited coaches for putting players in the position to succeed, and the defensive line for its prowess — “Our coach always tells us to give credit to our D-line every day because they’re so good. You just have to appreciate them,” he said.

The process of rehabbing through injury and waiting to play made him stronger physically and mentally, Williams said, and increased his love of the game which in turn improved his work ethic.

“I feel better than I was before, honestly. I have more confidence,” he said.

Williams next takes the field as No. 2 Weber State (2-0) hosts Northern Arizona (1-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Contact Brett Hein at bhein@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @bhein3 and

@WeberHQ.

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