Auburn coach Gus Malzahn never used the word "suspended" in his remarks about why wide receiver D'haquille "Duke" Wiliams has yet to participate in fall practice, but in its purest definition, that's what Malzahn has done to his oft-troubled star.
"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," Malzahn said Saturday, per the Alabama Media Group. "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 and that's between me and him."
Malzahn pointing out that nobody is bigger than the team suggests the latest issue with Williams is more for an attitude adjustment than for anything overly serious. But the accumulation of Williams' difficulties in a relatively short time at Auburn (the senior was a junior college transfer) appears to be wearing thin on Malzahn. Williams missed several practices for Auburn's Outback Bowl loss to Wisconsin, and was later suspended for the game. During that time, he posted a photo of himself with an apparent black eye, which sparked further speculation about the reason for his suspension. He also posted a tweet in the spring suggesting that he felt Auburn was not the right place for him, another source of consternation for the coaching staff.
Now, after catching 45 passes for 730 yards as a junior last year, Williams is on the wrong side of Malzahn once again.
Williams is among the most talented seniors in the country and, while drama tends to follow him, he could place himself in excellent position for the 2016 NFL Draft with another strong season for the Tigers.
But he'll have to get back on the field first.