This week the Auburn Tigers started work for the bowl game against the Wisconsin Badgers, but so far it has been without leading receiver Duke Williams. Held out of practices because of an illness, Coach Gus Malzahn said it was also had to do with lingering effects of the knee injury that he played through in the Alabama game. Because of that Malzahn said they’re not sure if or when he’ll return or whether or not he’ll play.
“Not at this point,” Malzahn said of Williams’ status.
His status with the NFL is also an unknown at this point. Unlike his teammates Sammie Coates, Cassanova McKinzy, Kris Frost and Avery Young, Williams has not submitted his paperwork to the NFL Draft Advisory Board said Malzahn.
“I think he’s trying to figure that out now,” he added.
Lawson Back To Work
. While Williams is trying to work his way back on the field, that time is past for sophomore defensive end Carl Lawson. Even though he won’t play in the Outback Bowl so he can get his redshirt year, Lawson is shaking off the rust during the bowl practices, something that should help him hit the ground running in the spring.
“It’s great to see him out there in pads and a helmet,” Malzahn said. “I know he’s got a big smile on his face. He’s doing what he can do, but it’s really good to have his presence out there and his leadership.
“Anytime you have an injury, it’s going to be a process. As far as right now, he’s ahead of schedule and looks really good doing the non-contact drills he’s been doing. We get in the spring and he’ll be back to normal, we feel like. He’s worked extremely hard to get back.
“I think it’s very valuable. Anytime you come off a knee injury it takes a little bit to get used to it, how it feels. One day it may be a little sore. I think it’s very valuable he’s able to do that now. Once he gets to spring, we’ll turn him loose and we expect him to be back to normal.”
Lawson is just one of the guys that hopes to hit the ground running in the spring as Auburn welcomes in seven early signees. While Jovon Robinson is getting an early start on practices while the Tigers are on campus, the rest of the group will be in school in January. Quarterback/athlete Jason Smith and Maurice Swain are a pair of junior college players that Malzahn said will have a chance to make an early impact on his program with high school players Tyler Queen, Tyler Carr, Bailey Sharp and Chandler Cox rounding out the group.
“I feel very good as a group,” Malzahn said. “All the guys that are coming in we feel like it will be their benefit that they’re coming in early. Most of them will have a chance to have an impact next year. Obviously, a few of the freshman linemen you’ll see how that thing goes, but it’s really good for us to get those guys here.
“Jason’s a guy we signed before that we feel like he’s an impact player,” he added. “We’re tickled to death to have him back. Swain’s a guy that we’ve known about for a long time. Coach Garner recruited him at Georgia. I talked to him before he went to junior college. He’s a big, athletic guy that we feel like can come in and make an immediate impact up front because we are losing so many guys. So we’re tickled to death to have him.”