Purdue football head coach Danny Hope expects redshirt freshman Frankie Williams to challenge for a starting spot at cornerback for the 2012 season.
Considering the Boilers will return starting corners Josh Johnson and Ricardo Allen from last year’s campaign – a pair Coach Hope regards to be as good a pair of corners as there are in the Big Ten – these lofty expectations certainly qualify as high praise.
“Frankie, I think, is an outstanding prospect,” Hope said. “Looking back on it, if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have redshirted Frankie Williams. I think when it’s all said and done he’s one of our better football players. He’s strong and really fast.”
Williams could make a contribution on specials teams as well. As a Florida prep star, Williams set a school record with nine kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns during his career, breaking the record held by current Kansas City Chief Javier Arenas.
With the graduation of last year’s primary punt returner in Waynelle Gravesande, Williams is in the running – along with Ricardo Allen and Antavian Edison – for the void at the position.
“He’s a very good punt returner,” Hope said. “He’s a real physical player.”
In late November, Hope singled out Frankie Williams as a player who redshirted last year who could have helped the team win this year.
“I think when it was all said and done, he probably would have been a better fourth corner than the two seniors who really held that spot down a majority of the season,” Hope said after one of the team’s 15 practices in preparation for the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. “I think he could have been a difference maker for us special teams-wise too. He’s very fast, and very physical, and on the scout team; he just gives us a fit.”
Williams said that at first it was difficult not being out on the field, but he eventually accepted the role. He said he benefited greatly from the redshirt year, as he gained 12 pounds, increased his strength, and developed as a defensive back.
“It challenged me mentally,” Williams. “I accepted it and just tried to help the team improve.”