Duke Lives Up To Advance Billing Against Hogs

Auburn WR Duke Williams had a huge first appearance for the Tigers in the win over Arkansas.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn junior wide receiver D'haquille Williams entered Saturday’s season opener against Arkansas with almost unreal expectations coming out of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College as one of the nation’s top junior college players.

Unfortunately for the visitors from the Natural State, Williams lived up to to the hype and more.

Catching nine passes for 154 yards and a touchdown, Williams was a dynamic part of an Auburn passing attack that torched Arkansas for 293 yards through the air on just 16 completions. Lined up in the slot in Auburn’s offense, Williams benefited from having Sammie Coates and Ricardo Louis lined up outside, something he said makes it tough on a defense.

“Being with Ricardo and Sammie, you can’t double-stick everybody,” Williams said. “Whoever you double-stick somebody else is going to make the play. Those are my brothers, on and off the field. I look up to them. I know I’m older them, but they guide me through this because they have been here. With them on the field is the best feeling.”

That feeling started when Williams walked on the field following Tiger Walk. A dream that started when he committed to the Tigers last year, getting to play for Auburn and open up against an SEC opponent was success enough he said.

“This had to be the best feeling in my life,” Williams said. “When I was at the Iron Bowl last year I was like ‘I can’t wait until January’. When January got here it was about practicing during the spring and summer. When I walked in front of that crowd I just got the jitters.

“That felt great finally playing in the SEC,” he added. “I just give credit to my teammates, my O-Line, my receiving corps, my quarterbacks for believing in me. Without them nothing would be possible.”

With his first catch the player known as Duke became a cult hero for the crowd at Jordan-Hare Stadium when they called his name. Getting louder with every successive catch, he said it drove him to get so much attention from the fans.

“I never thought I would hear that,” Williams said. “When I did it just hyped me up and made me want to play even harder.”

The cheers reached a fever pitch when Williams hauled in a pass from Johnson from his own 16-yard line and set sail for the endzone. Breaking away momentarily before he was caught by Alan Turner after a 62-yard gain, Williams said he thought for a second he was going to take it to the house, but came up just short.

Now the hard part comes for Williams as he has to try to live up to his lofty standards beginning next week against San Jose State. While he won’t have those types of numbers every week, Williams said he actually wasn’t expecting such a big game the first time out, but getting into a groove with Johnson made it like pitch and catch.

“Honestly, I didn’t come in thinking I was going to have a big game like that,” Williams said. “I just kept catching the ball and making plays. As the game went on the ball kept coming so I just had to make a play for my team.”

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