KNOXVILLE -- Toney Williams' once-promising career at the University of Tennessee was grounded by a serious knee injury before it could really get started.
Now the former Volunteers running back and Chattanooga native will to continue his college career elsewhere.
Williams is transferring to Ball State, he told the Times Free Press in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. Williams, who was driving to the Muncie, Ind., school Thursday, is just waiting on his application to be finalized.
"I knew a little bit about the football program, and I got a chance to look at the communications program," Williams said. "When I went to visit, it just clicked and I felt like it would be a comfortable place for me to go and continue my career on the field and off the field."
Per NCAA transfer rules, Williams must sit out this season for the Cardinals, who play in the Mid-American Conference and went 4-8 last season.
"I would like to play, but I'm trying to think about what's best for me in five years," said the 6-foot, 220-pound Williams. "I feel like this was a good decision, and not playing in games but still practicing will help [me] develop."
After enrolling at UT for spring practice in 2009 out of Milton High School in Alpharetta, Ga., Williams surprised with his physical running style, but he tore his anterior cruciate ligament that June. The injury forced him to redshirt in 2009, and he had five carries for 11 yards in 2010 as he continued to deal with nagging injuries.
Williams ran for 53 yards on 10 carries in UT's spring game before his decision to transfer.
"[My UT career] didn't go the way I wanted to, but it went in a lot of ways [how] I did want it to," he said. "I got to grow as a person and as a man, so I'm not going to look back at it as nothing bad because I respect the decisions that the coaches made and that I made. I'm just ready to move on with my life and better myself."
UT added a third four-star recruit to its 2012 class this week on Thursday afternoon when Jason Croom picked the Vols over Mississippi State. The 6-foot-5, 212-pound receiver from Norcross, Ga., who's rated as Georgia's No. 21 by Rivals.com, also had scholarship offers from Auburn, LSU and Florida State.
Kenneth Crawley, a cornerback out of H.D. Woodson High School in Washington D.C., committed to UT on Sunday, and Dallas safety LaDarrell McNeil, Rivals' No. 107 player overall and No. 16 player in Texas, picked UT a day later.
The Vols now have 16 public commitments in their 2012 recruiting class.
Odds and ends
UT coach Derek Dooley lamented his young offense's inability to move on from bad plays.
"There's just not a lot of calm leadership," he said. "We're going to go through some stretches where we look bad -- we've got to learn how to play out of it. That's a mark of a real confident, mature team, and we're not even close to that right now."
Oft-injured receiver Zach Rogers wore a red non-contact jersey for the second consecutive practice, and the junior's durability has always been his biggest problem. Dooley said he's had a good camp and added there's a dropoff from Rogers to true freshmen Vincent Dallas and DeAnthony Arnett.
Linebacker Dontavis Sapp returned to practice after a 10-day absence following surgery on a fractured finger. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson, tailbacks Tom Smith and Rajion Neal and linebacker Greg King all missed Thursday's practice with knee injuries.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...