COLUMBIA -- The decision to come back for Bryson Allen-Williams was an easy one.
Injuring his shoulder 10 defensive plays into the Kentucky game, he made the decision if surgery was needed that he would return for his fifth and final year.
When the surgery was scheduled a few days after the game, it effectively punched his ticket back to Columbia for another year. Plus, he had unfinished business.
“I couldn’t leave the way I left,” he said. “We lost to Kentucky and we haven’t beat Kentucky in my four years I’ve been here. That’s one reason, just that game alone.”
Allen-Williams spent the next five months thinking about that game while rehabbing, knowing he’d have one more go-around as a Gamecock next season.
He missed the rest of the regular season and the bowl game rehabbing. It was tough, he said, but he used his advantage trying to help a young linebacker group learn the ropes quick.
During that time, he said he found a new appreciation for his craft.
“It kind of gave me a different perspective on football,” he said. “It made me really enjoy the little things like being about to work out because I wasn’t able to do that in so long. It gave me a new hunger for the game.”
Allen-Williams is back now with the team on the practice field, albeit in a yellow non-contact jersey.
He’s participating in individual drills but hasn’t been cleared yet for full contact work.
Fully healed from the surgery, now comes the part where Allen-Williams has to work on getting stronger. Sitting at 235 pounds right now, the goal is to add five or six more pounds before the season.
“It’s just building the muscle back, getting back to where I was before the injury,” he said. “I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m at 235 right now so putting on good healthy weight. I feel great.”
Right now he’s working primarily with the BUCK position, but said he’s not really concerned with where he’s going to play once the season starts.
He’s played at all three linebacker spots over his career, a versatile part to any defense he’s played in. But right now, he’s just happy to be back on the field after almost six months of waiting.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Allen-Williams said. “Once you get an injury you don’t think the rehab process is going to be over with.
"But actually being with the guys, running around and being with the team is kind of a fun experience.”