Bad News, Good News On Duke Williams

Junior receiver Duke Williams won't play in the Outback Bowl, but is planning to return to Auburn for his senior season.

Tampa, Fla.--Auburn’s leading receiver, Duke Williams, will not play in the Outback Bowl game vs. Wisconsin, Coach Gus Malzahn said on Monday.

Malzahn noted that the junior has been suspended from playing due to a violation of team rules, but also pointed out that Williams plans to return to Auburn for his senior year instead of entering the NFL Draft.

"Duke Williams will not play," Malzahn said. "He has been suspended for breaking team rules. He is planning on coming back next year and that's the reason he's here. I thought it was important that he was on the scout team. He is acting as Wisconsin's top receiver. I felt like that was the right thing to do."

A transfer from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Williams caught 45 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns even though he has been bothered by a knee problem much of the season.

Williams was late arriving in Tampa for the Outback Bowl and did not practice in the on-campus workouts. Malzahn said that was due to rehabbing his knee as well as recovering from an illness.

With Williams out for the Wisconsin game Sammie Coates, who has 30 catches for 717 yards and four touchdowns, is the leading receiver in yardage available for the bowl while Quan Bray is the leader in catches with 34 for 408 yards. Both Bray and Coates have four touchdown catches.

Auburn played two games without Williams this season, something Malzahn said is important as the Tigers get ready to face a quality Wisconsin defense because they know what to expect and how to handle his absence.

"We've got some veteran guys that we can move around," Malzahn pointed out. "Ricardo Louis, C.J. (Uzomah), Melvin (Ray)--they all three will have a role in taking his place."

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