D’haquille Williams

He’s back! Auburn reinstates D’haquille Williams

4 Comments

After an absence of six days, Auburn wide receiver D’haquille Williams has been formally reinstated by the team and has returned to practice. Head coach Gus Malzahn commented on the updated status of the receiver following practice on Thursday.

“He took care of his business off the field, what I had him doing,” Malzahn said, per Al.com. “He is in the process of every day earning his coaches’ and his teammates’ respect.”

Williams has been spending time away from the team for a mysterious violation of team rules. That time away from the program started just before Auburn’s bowl game against Wisconsin last January. Malzahn recently commented no further than to say they were dealing with a discipline issue with regard to Williams. Clearly, he is having to work on regaining a footing on the depth chart, as he is working his way up this summer leading up to the start of the new football season.

“He was at the bottom of the depth chart (on Thursday),” Malzahn said. “He’s going to earn his way back up. He understands that. For anybody that missed that many practices that’s to be expected.”

Williams was Auburn’s second-leading receiver last season with 730 yards and four touchdowns and he caught a team-high five touchdowns. Expect him to move up that depth chart rather quickly, so long as he stays out of putting Malzahn in the position to hand down some more discipline for any reason.

Auburn’s star WR (still) leasing space in Malzahn’s doghouse

3 Comments

Thanks in large part to the addition of Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator, preseason prognosticators have been bullish on Auburn’s 2015 postseason chances. It’s the other side of the ball, though, that’s of the utmost interest — and concern — in the here and now.

It seems as if there’s been a glaring absence from the Tigers’ summer camp practices over the past couple of days: star wide receiver D’haquille Williams. That’s somewhat of a continuation from this past January, when he was absent from AU’s bowl loss to Wisconsin because of an unspecified violation of team rules. And when he was absent from the two games preceding AU’s loss to Alabama in the Iron Bowl because of a knee injury.

Suffice to say, this latest absence is decidedly not an extension of the late-season health issue.

Saturday, following the second practice in a row Williams missed, Gus Malzahn addressed the development. And, being blunt, he doesn’t appear particularly impressed with the unspecified actions of one of the most talented receivers in the country.

“He had a discipline issue that we’re taking care of and when he takes care of that, he’ll be back on the field,” the head coach said. “I’ll make that decision. I will let you know when he’ll be back. Bottom line: nobody is bigger than the team around here.”

The Opelika-Auburn News writes that “Malzahn declined to comment further about the reasoning behind Williams’ absence when pressed by reporters, simply saying that the situation is ‘between me and him.'”

Despite playing in just 10 of 13 games last season, Williams led the Tigers with 45 receptions and five receiving touchdowns. His 730 receiving yards were second on the team.

Last month, the media tapped him as a first-team All-SEC preseason selection.

Alabama lands 12 players on preseason All-SEC media selections

8 Comments

Before we closed the books on the SEC’s week-long football preview week, the SEC released its annual media preseason all-conference selections. As if one team of preseason All-SEC players is not enough to hold us over, the good folks at the SEC made sure everyone working in the sports information offices throughout the conference (except for Vanderbilt) were busy by naming not two but three All-SEC teams.

The first team offenses is led by one of last year’s biggest breakout stars, Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott. He is joined by two of the conference’s, and perhaps the nation’s, top two young running backs; Nick Chubb of Georgia and Leonard Fournette of LSU. Fournette also received a nod on the All-SEC Special teams with a second team recognition. Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is expected to have a big return after seeing his 2014 season cut a little short by a tough ankle injury. He was named to the All-SEC First Team by the media this week. He is one of three Rebels to appear on the All-SEC First Team offense.

Among the three All-SEC teams put together by the media, no school had more players recognized than Alabama, with 12. Vanderbilt was the only school without a player selected.

OFFENSE
First-Team
QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (170)
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia (189)
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU (180)
WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (169)
WR D’haquille Williams, Auburn (154)
TE Evan Engram, Ole Miss (128)
OL Cam Robinson, Alabama (167)
OL Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss (159)
OL Vadal Alexander, LSU (131)
OL John Theus, Georgia (129)
C Ryan Kelly, Alabama (144)

Second-Team
QB Jeremy Johnson, Auburn (89)
RB Derrick Henry, Alabama (151)
RB Jonathan Williams, Arkansas (82)
WR Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (147)
WR De’Runnya Wilson, Mississippi State (59)
TE Hunter Henry, Arkansas (97)
OL Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M (124)
OL Dan Skipper, Arkansas (95)
OL Denver Kirkland, Arkansas (85)
OL Greg Pyke, Georgia (83)
C Mike Matthews, Texas A&M (108)

Third-Team
QB Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee (62)
RB Alex Collins, Arkansas (80)
RB Kenyan Drake, Alabama (34)
WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (50)
WR Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M (39)
TE O.J. Howard, Alabama (87)
OL Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas (72)
OL Alex Kozan, Auburn (69)
OL Avery Young, Auburn (57)
OL Brandon Shell, South Carolina (50)
C Evan Boehm, Missouri (81)

DEFENSE
First-Team
DL Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (173)
DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama (160)
DL Myles Garrett, Texas A&M (155)
DL Carl Lawson, Auburn (131)
LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama (181)
LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia (121)
LB Curt Maggitt, Tennessee (102)
DB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida (186)
DB Cyrus Jones, Alabama (126)
DB Jonathan Jones, Auburn (122)
DB Jalen Mills, LSU (118)

Second-Team
DL Jonathan Bullard, Florida (115)
DL Derek Barnett, Tennessee (105)
DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama (99)
DL Chris Jones, Mississippi State (93)
LB Kendell Beckwith, LSU (93)
LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia (92)
LB Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn (80)
DB Tony Conner, Ole Miss (117)
DB Cameron Sutton, Tennessee (115)
DB Will Redmond, Mississippi State (79)
DB Tre’Davious White, LSU (61)

Third-Team
DL Montravius Adams, Auburn (90)
DL Jarran Reed, Alabama (60)
DL Davon Godchaux, LSU (40)
DL Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss (34)
LB Kris Frost, Auburn (77)
LB Antonio Morrison, Florida (66)
LB Kentrell Brothers, Missouri (61)
DB A.J. Stamps, Kentucky (59)
DB Eddie Jackson, Alabama (58)
DB Jamal Adams, LSU (56)
DB Johnathan Ford, Auburn (52)

SPECIALISTS
First-Team
P JK Scott, Alabama (161)
PK Marshall Morgan, Georgia (100)
RS Speedy Noil, Texas A&M (117)
AP Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (112)

Second-Team
P Drew Kaser, Texas A&M (92)
PK Elliott Fry, South Carolina (87)
RS Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (75)
AP Leonard Fournette, LSU (85)

Third-Team
P Jamie Keehn, LSU (52)
PK Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky (59)
RS Leonard Fournette, LSU (66)
AP Speedy Noil, Texas A&M (84)

Two glaring omissions headline Biletnikoff watch list

3 Comments

It’s not often that who’s not on what’s essentially a meaningless preseason watch list is the main storyline, but that’s the case when it comes to the Biletnikoff Award this year.

First, who is on the watch list for the award handed out annually to the nation’s top wide receivers: a total of 48 players at the position, which is actually a rather subdued number compared to other watch lists that come out this time of the year.

Headlining the four dozen receivers actually listed is Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins, who was a finalist for last year’s award that went to Alabama’s Amari Cooper.  Joining Higgins are 2014 semifinalists Sterling Shepard of Oklahoma and Nelson Spruce of Colorado.

Now, the players who was inexplicably excluded from the initial watch list? Auburn’s D’haquille Williams, first and foremost. The senior wideout was already named to the Maxwell Award watch list earlier this month. He’s considered by many to be the best receiver in the SEC — Mel Kiper has Williams as his No. 1 player at that position — yet four receivers from that conference are included.  The only receiver on the Biletnikoff watch list to also make Maxwell’s is South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper.

Williams missed three of the last four games last season because of an injury, yet still totaled 45 receptions for 730 yards and five touchdowns. Kiper may have him a bit overrated on his Big Board, but Williams certainly deserves one of the 48 spots allotted — or the award should at least make room for a 49th.  Or a 49th and 50th.

That said, Williams can, and probably will, be added to an in-season update from the folks at the Biletnikoff.  The same could be said for Player. No. 2: Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell.

Despite missing the last four games of the year because of a gruesome leg injury, Williams still led the Rebels in receptions with 48 and was second in yardage with 632.  Like Williams, Treadwell made the cut for the Maxwell, which is awarded annually to the best player in college football regardless of position.

Anyway, below is the complete Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list.

Victor Bolden, Oregon State
Devonte Boyd, UNLV
Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan
Ryan Burbrink, Bowling Green
KD Cannon, Baylor
Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
Rashon Ceaser, ULM
Corey Coleman, Baylor
Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
River Cracraft, Washington State
Jared Dangerfield, Western Kentucky
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Josh Doctson, TCU
Travin Dural, LSU
Alex Erickson, Wisconsin
William Fuller, Notre Dame
Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
Donovan Harden, Georgia State
Carlos Harris, North Texas
Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
Ajalen Holley, ULM
Cayleb Jones, Arizona
Corey Jones, Toledo
Isaiah Jones, East Carolina
Marcus Kemp, Hawaii
Roger Lewis, Bowling Green
Keevan Lucas, Tulsa
Byron Marshall, Oregon
Mitch Mathews, BYU
Teldrick Morgan, New Mexico State
Jordan Payton, UCLA
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
Jalen Robinette, Air Force
Demarcus Robinson, Florida
Alonzo Russell, Toledo
Artavis Scott, Clemson
Hunter Sharp, Utah State
Tajae Sharpe, Massachusetts
Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State
Nelson Spruce, Colorado
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
Michael Thomas, Ohio State
Shaq Washington, Cincinnati
Mike Williams, Clemson
Ron Willoughby, Buffalo

Auburn’s leading receiver ‘running late’ to arrive at Outback Bowl

4 Comments

A week ago, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn wasn’t sure if the team’s leading receiver, D’haquille Williams, would play in the Outback Bowl against the No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers.

Williams didn’t practice last week due to an illness plus lingering issues with a knee he injured earlier in the season against the Texas A&M Aggies.

After not practicing with the team, Williams didn’t travel to Tampa, Florida for the bowl game.

While Sammie Coates is one of the nation’s most talented wide receivers, the Tigers lose a lot with Williams out the lineup. The JUCO transfer came into the program and immediately became quarterback Nick Marshall‘s favorite target. He leads the team with 45 receptions and 730 receiving yards.

Williams is also a better overall route runner than Coates. The junior, who is NFL bound,  is one of the nation’s top deep threats. Williams was far more willing to run the routes and make the tough catches over the middle, though.

UPDATE [7:00 p.m. ET]:  Due to D’haquille Williams‘ injury status, Auburn’s top target didn’t initially travel with the team to Tampa, Florida, for the Outback Bowl. However, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn told reporters Friday night that the wide receiver will be at the game.

Malzahn never specified whether or not Williams will be cleared to play for the New Year’s Day affair.