Auburn augmented its future offensive attack with the July commitment of wide receiver D'haquille Williams. 247Sports.com ranks the 6'3", 215-pound Louisiana native as a 5-star prospect and the No. 1 junior college player in America.
Williams, who graduated from East St. John High School (Reserve, LA.) in 2011, is preparing to make a long-awaited leap to the next level.
An academic non-qualifier out of high school, he stars at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, the top-ranked JUCO football program in America.
According to NOLA.com, Williams hauled in 67 passes for 18 touchdowns and nearly 1,300 yards last fall. He would actually be eligible to enter the NFL draft in April 2014, but instead appears intent on playing at the FBS level, where he could really raise his stock with a strong season at Auburn.
247Sports lists Williams as the best recruit among the Tigers' 14 current commits. He decommitted from LSU in May and considered offers from Florida State, Miami, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas.
The consensus projection for 2014 places Williams among the most talented offensive newcomers in BCS football. His presence will give Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn a multitude of options in the passing game.
Let's take a closer look at what separates this dominant receiver from the rest of the pack.
|High School||East St. John|
|Junior College||Mississippi Golf Coast Community College|
|Size||6'3", 215 pounds|
|Ranking||Consensus 5-star recruit, No. 1 JUCO prospect|
|Key Offers||Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Florida State, USC, Tennessee, Texas, Miami, Ole Miss|
What sticks out about Williams from the moment you turn on the game tape is his physicality. He shoots off the line of scrimmage with speed that looks every bit of his 4.40 40-yard-dash time.
But plenty of receivers have speed. Williams combines quickness with tenacity, eager to combat a defensive back with occasional shoves that set a tone for the matchup and ultimately create space in the open field.
While Williams' route running has room to improve, he is the quintessential midfield threat.
Reminiscent of Terrell Owens, he turns 10-yard slants into highlight-reel scores because of his ability to shrug off tackles and burst upfield with long strides.
Williams is a compact runner who doesn't leave a lot of room for defenders to target when he comes down with the football. SEC safeties should be put on alert that he doesn't go down easily and embraces contact by lowering his shoulder (see highlight above for further proof).
It's a characteristic that is sure to earn him respect in the Auburn locker room and bleachers.
Despite his large frame, Williams doesn't linger when moving laterally. He is able to cut diagonally and dart toward the sidelines in order to evade a defender. It's simply special to see a young man at his size maneuver with that kind of precision.
Expect Auburn to target Williams early and often in the red zone. He is a matchup nightmare for any linebacker in the middle of the field and his exceptional leaping ability sets the stage for the Tigers to try for jump-ball opportunities in the back of the end zone.
As I mentioned above, Williams will need to improve his route-running techniques if he hopes to dominate elite SEC defensive backs. He tends to open up his hips too much when cutting and that slight disruption can hurt you in tight coverage.
Williams, while supremely intriguing, must prove that he can adjust to an entirely different offense at Auburn.
The explosive receiving skills are great and he's a fighter on the outside, but he must shore up his technique as a blocker.
No team survives in the SEC without a quality offensive ground game. Williams will have to address some deficiencies in the blocking department if he aims to be an every-down player at the next level.
What are your expectations for D'haquille Williams at Auburn?
Williams is arguably the most compelling JUCO product headed to Auburn since Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton (Blinn Junior College). He will be a factor from opening day and have an opportunity to seize the Tigers' top receiver position.
Some growing pains will be involved as he transitions to BCS football, but the occasional stumbling block won't prevent Williams from warranting All-SEC consideration at Auburn.
Though Alabama and LSU would have loved the opportunity to install him in their respective offenses, Auburn won the recruiting battle and will immediately reap the benefits.
If things go according to plan and he picks up the Auburn air attack, don't be stunned if he follows in Newton's footsteps as a one-and-done collegiate player. NFL teams love big-bodied receivers who provide explosiveness.