Mike Williams has appeared in only two football games in the last two seasons, yet the Clemson wide receiver has nothing left to prove as a pro prospect to at least one NFL scout who sees a big future ahead for the fourth-year junior.
"Clemson needs to understand what they have in Williams," the scout said. "What they have in Williams is a special, special kind of receiver. A guy that has his kind of speed, his kind of body control, his kind of size and his kind of ability to high point the football is a rare thing. With him coming back this season, they basically have a guy that should be playing on Sundays playing for them on Saturdays."
For a player whose football career appeared to be in significant jeopardy 12 months ago, there couldn't be a more resounding endorsement.
Williams fractured a bone in his neck when he collided with a goalpost on Clemson's first offensive possession last year, causing him to miss the rest of the season. That eliminated any chance of Williams entering the 2016 draft as an underclassman, but Williams recovered from the frightening injury well enough to participate in spring practice. He returned to action against Auburn last week with a statement game for any doubters: nine catches, 174 yards, and notice served that Deshaun Watson's most dynamic weapon is very much beyond the setback.
Of course, that performance alone wouldn't be enough to generate the kind of praise he drew from the Giants scout. An evaluation like that would require a look at Williams' larger body of work; specifically, his sophomore year in 2014 when he caught 57 passes for 1,030 yards and a robust average of 18.1 yards per catch.
NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein rated Williams the No. 2 receiver to watch in the college game this year, noting a skill set that will allow Tigers star QB Deshaun Watson to stretch the field vertically with the 6-3, 225-pound Williams. As a fourth-year junior, he'll have the option of returning to Clemson next year, or applying for early eligibility in the 2017 NFL Draft.