When DWill signed with PSU back in December 2004, four years ago, PSU was in year 5 of the Dark Years. The Dark Years were 2000-2004, 4 seasons of losing seasons with one winning year (2002). That 9-3 team was a senior-laden team that had too much talent to lose to lesser teams but no intestinal fortitude to beat teams that had more talent/more will to win than them. 2004, the team went 4-7, winning the last 2 games after an improbable 4th down stop at Indiana before blowing out Michigan State. All of us point back to that 4th down stop as a turning point but this team needed offensive power. Enter Derrick Williams.
He could have gone anywhere. Many expected he would head to Florida but he decided to come here. PSU, a team that was now living off of its legacy, fallen from the top to the mire. Derrick Williams decided to begin the resurrection of the program and recruited other players to come in with him: Justin King, Sean Lee, A.Q. Shipley. Butler was a redshirt at the time, Norwood came in as a kid that no one else wanted.
With DWill as their leader, these players all played in their freshman year, 2005 as another senior-laden team fueled by the leadership of M-Rob beat OSU, won the Big Ten and the Orange Bowl. In 2006 and 2007, under the non-leadership of Morelli, the team still went 9-4. During these years, DWill was instrumental in recruiting as the 2006 recruiting class was a top 10 class. 2007 and 2008 were good as well, not as highly ranked but filled with guys who were eager to continue putting PSU back on the map.
This year, with a real QB, D-Clark, leading the team, PSU went 11-1 again, finally beating Michigan and OSU and is now awaiting USC in the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl will be DWill's last game but the legacy of what he has done is now part of PSU lore. 40-10 the last 4 years after going 26-32 during the Dark Years. Renewed national profile, momentum going into the future.
I know people have mentioned him a lot in different comments but I feel that he deserves his own post. He's not God or anything but he has meant a lot to this program.
GO STATE BEAT USC!