FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams will return for his senior season, he announced Wednesday.
Williams had submitted his name to the NFL College Advisory Committee in December. Underclassmen had until Friday to declare for April's NFL Draft.
"Taking into consideration the rewarding total experience I have had in Fayetteville, I feel there is no reason to cut this short," Williams said in a release through the university media relations office. "There are a lot of teammates and people I've grown close to and the ability to spend another year with them pursuing our goals is a big reason I want to come back."
Williams' decision means Arkansas will return 10 offensive starters next season from a unit that ranked in the top 15 nationally in total offense, scoring offense and passing offense.
The Little Rock-native said the opportunity to play another year with the group was too much to pass up. Quarterback Ryan Mallett had announced last Friday he will also return for the 2010 season.
"With Ryan and most of the key guys from last season returning I think this team understands what we can accomplish next season," Williams said. "That is something I'm excited about and something that means a lot to all of us. It is something our fans, who are the best in the nation, deserve to be a part of.
"The coaches here and the atmosphere we practice and compete in have helped me develop into more of a complete player. I understand the value of gaining another year of experience and the value of working toward finishing my degree."
Williams has caught 98 passes for 1,228 yards and six touchdowns in three seasons with the Razorbacks.
His offensive production had been a topic of discussion and even criticism throughout the season. He had 32 catches for 411 yards in 2009 as opposed to 61 receptions for 723 yards the season before. He had been named to preseason Lombardi and Mackey Award watch lists.
Williams said in December he was surprised by the amount of attention his statistics had received. He cited more responsibilities in pass protection as the reason for decreased numbers.
"A lot of people are like, ‘What's going on? D.J. didn't have the kind of year he had last year.'" Williams said in December. "I feel like I had a better year than I had last year."
Smith leaves team
Redshirt freshman reserve linebacker Jelani Smith has left the Razorback football program, sources confirmed Wednesday.
The Abbeville, La., native spent two years at Arkansas. Smith started two games before a hand injury resulted in him receiving a medical redshirt in 2008.
He recorded three tackles in seven games last season in mostly special teams play.
Williams will return for senior season
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