Keon Williams is a step closer to rejoining the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team.
The suspended running back met with coach Russ Huesman following a team meeting Monday and was informed that he would be allowed to participate in offseason conditioning with the Mocs.
"We're going to let him start lifting weights with the guys," Huesman said Tuesday. "He'll be required to lift and run with them, be at team meetings, and we'll continue to assess him throughout the spring."
Huesman said Williams still has to earn the right -- through taking care of business academically and socially -- to participate in spring practice, which begins Feb. 24.
"If he continues on the track he's on, then we'll let him practice," Huesman said.
Williams walked into UTC's Wolford Family Strength and Conditioning Center on Tuesday afternoon with a smile on his face and was warmly greeted by the Mocs. He said afterward that it meant a lot to him to have a second chance.
"It really does," said Williams, who rushed for 500 yards and four touchdowns as a true freshman in 2010. "I really missed it. ... This is a big achievement, and hopefully I can get back on the field."
In late May, Williams was placed on probation after pleading guilty to simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Following the plea, Huesman suspended Williams for the 2011 season. Williams was not allowed to practice or participate in team activities, but he was required to attend study halls.
"It made me sit down and realize how blessed I really was," Williams said of the suspension. "It just kind of opened up my eyes."
Williams had worked out on his own during his suspension, but he said Tuesday was his first hardcore session since his arrest. That, he said, could lead to some sore muscles today.
"That could be something to tell," he said, laughing. "I'm kind of worried about that right now."