COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Just a year ago, Bryson Allen-Williams wasn’t able to help South Carolina capture their Outback Bowl win over Michigan at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
The senior linebacker was sidelined with an injury that he rehabbed to play this season. Fast forward nearly a year and Allen-Williams found himself sidelined yet again. This time, it was an ankle injury that kept him off the field for the final three games for USC and would possibly keep him out of yet another bowl.
But Allen-Williams wasn’t going to put his pads away that easily. Now, he’s set to take the field for USC against Virginia in this weekend’s Belk Bowl. It’s a goal he set for himself after being injured.
“It’s just surreal,” said Allen-Williams, “all that I’ve been through, being able to come back so quickly from this injury, being able to go through the rehab process again and realizing it’s going to be a quick turnaround and trying to be available for the bowl game. It’s just important to me. It’s been prayer, God – you know, I definitely put it all to him because just the way I’m able to come back and how I feel and how I’ve been practicing. I’m excited to go out on a high note.”
But Allen-Williams wasn’t sure it was going to end that way.
“I was nervous. I was scared,” Allen-Williams said when asked if he thought his career was over because of the injury. “When I got injured again, I’m [thinking] it’s the end of the world. I’m upset, but at the end of the day, we’ve got great trainers. We’ve got great orthopedic surgeons and stuff and they were able to go in and help fix my ankle and I’m back out there practicing and being able to run around there and be out there with my guys one last time.”
Over the last two seasons, Allen-Williams has missed 14 games. Despite missing the final four games for Carolina this season, Allen-Williams has 36 total tackles and is second on the team with 10 tackles for loss. With a healthy outlook heading into the Belk Bowl, Allen-Williams wants to make the most of his final playing opportunity in the garnet and black.
“I didn’t finish on my terms,” he said. “So, for me, I wanted to finish on my terms. I got hurt in the Ole Miss game and I wasn’t able to finish the game. I want to be able to go out and finish on my terms and finish on a high note.
“I’ve been through a lot: coaching changes, scheme changes, position changes," said Allen-Williams. "I want to be able to go out there and end it on my note. Like I said, I’m excited and I’m ready to be back.”
Having Allen-Williams back on the field isn’t just a boost for the team on paper, it gives a boost to the defense’s confidence as well.
“That’s big,” said Gamecocks linebacker TJ Brunson. “I’m glad he’s able to come back and play with us his last game. He’s been working hard, trying to get back and everything and just the experience that we’ve missed throughout the year, it’ll be a good deal to get him back on the field.”
South Carolina takes on Virginia in the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium at noon Saturday in Charlotte.