Williams, a preseason All-SEC selection, practiced twice last week, but missed the rest of the workouts, including the team's first preseason scrimmage on Monday. The Tigers are scheduled to scrimmage again on Saturday.
Duke Williams is shown in action last season after transferring to Auburn from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
“Duke Williams did return to practice today,” Malzahn said. “He did take care of his business off the field what I had him doing.
“He is in the process of every day earning his teammates’ and coaches’ respect,” the head coach added, noting the receiver showed remorse for his behavior that led to Malzahn preventing him from practicing.
“He is going to have the same standards as everybody else and earns everything he gets, just like any other player would,” said Malzahn, who noted that Williams will be available for action in the opener vs. Louisville as long as he stays in the coaching staff’s good graces.
Malzahn said that the preseason All-American was at “the bottom of the depth chart” for Thursday’s practice. “He is going to have to earn his way back up--he understands that. For anybody to miss that many practices, that is to be expected.”
Asked how far behind Williams is after missing a week of preseason, Malzahn said, “Any time you miss part of installs there is going to be some catching up to do, but we have got guys who have been to practice that we feel very good about so he is in the process of earning his playing time just like everybody else does. He is going to have play catch up and he understands that.”
Asked if Williams will be able to play vs. Louisville on Sept. 5th, Malzahn said, “He has taken care of what he needed to take care of, but it is a daily deal, just like everybody else on our team. They are going to come out there and practice with a great attitude and a great effort, and earn their playing time on the field.”
Malzahn was asked if the receiver has a zero tolerance status to stay on the team, the coach said, “He has taken care of what he needed to right now, but he understands the severity of where we are at.”
The coach said that he “tries to keep the same standards for everybody” on the team, regardless of how important that player is to the team’s success. That is how we operate around here.” He added that what Williams had to do to be allowed to return to practice “is between me and him.” Williams led the team in receptions last year and was second in receiving yards behind Sammie Coates, who left early for the NFL and is with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Williams won praise from Auburn coaches for his play in spring training after returning to the squad following a suspension for the bowl game vs. Wisconsin.
He led AU in catches (45) and TD catches (5) last fall while finishing second in yards (730.) He started seven games, missed three due to injury and missed the bowl due to suspension.
After graduating from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College he joined the Tigers for spring training and made an early impact with nine catches for 154 yards vs. Arkansas. He caught 51 passes for 733 yards and nine TDs as a juco sophomore after catching 67 for 1,295 yards and 17 TDs as a freshman.
Twice All-State in high school, he was a five-star recruit who gained 1,495 receiving yards as a senior while catching 25 touchdown passes.
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