When the defensive line broke into groups the first thought when looking at the interior players is John Williams must have changed numbers. Number 71 moved swiftly to the station where the linemen were working on pass rushing drills.
After double-checking with the sports information people it was confirmed Williams was still wearing number 71. He was just missing a few pounds from the last time he had on a jersey.
"Some girl must have told him he looked good so he keeps dropping weight," joked defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt. "It's good to have John back. He's moving really well. He's had great change of directions."
Wyatt admitted the toughest part with Williams return has been shaking the rust off. He missed most of the spring with a shoulder injury. Combine the injury with the fact Williams wanted to drop the pounds and you have a defensive lineman that is almost 40 lighter than last season.
"I just came off shoulder surgery so that had something to do with the weight," Williams said. "But I have been able to keep my strength while I lost the weight. I felt like the weight just dropped off me."
That could be a big factor for Williams this season. He's in the rotation at defensive line taking a lot of snaps. He feels like he's moving around better and that will be a factor in his performance.
"I was about 320 when I moved over last year (from offense). I'm down to about 285-290," Williams said. "That's definitely something I wanted to do. I think it will help me be a better, more aggressive d-lineman. I think it will help me pass rush better and get to the ball quicker."
Williams arrived at Kansas as an offensive lineman and redshirted his first season. Last year he started at offensive line before making a quick switch to defense during the middle of the season. The defensive line needed bodies and Williams found himself starting at Colorado shortly after making the switch.
One of the biggest adjustments was making the transition over to the other side.
"The biggest difference has been the mentality to have to have for defense," he said. "Offense is all about blocking and making sure your guy doesn't get to the quarterback. Defense is the opposite that you're trying to get past that lineman to get to the quarterback."
There is also a difference between the conditioning for an offensive and defensive lineman. That's another area Williams has worked on and says his power hasn't dropped off even though he's playing at a much lighter weight.
"Stamina-wise it is a whole different ball game," Williams said. "You have to be running on defense constantly. On offense you're in a set space all the time. So there's not as much ground that you have to cover.
"This summer the strength and conditioning was a lot different. We did a lot more running in the past and now we do more lifting. It's been fun. I think we are getting stronger as a team and faster. It's been an exciting atmosphere."