Duke Williams (above) played in 15 games for the Tigers over two seasons.
Auburn, Ala.--Even though he had warned Duke Williams that he was in jeopardy of losing his spot on the Auburn football team, Coach Gus Malzahn noted that the decision to dismiss the wide receiver was something he didn’t take lightly.
“Any time you have to make a tough call and dismiss a player, it's not easy,” Malzahn said after Tuesday evening’s practice, less than 24 hours after he announced the senior wide receiver was no longer part of the team.
“At the same time this is a team sport and you are always going to think about the team first,” Auburn’s third-year head coach said. “You give people chances, you give opportunities for people to prove themselves and the bottom line it didn’t (work).”
“It's not easy and it shouldn’t be easy for a coach, but you have got to do what is best for your team,” added Malzahn, who did not discuss specifics of why the receiver is no longer with the team after the senior was involved in a bar fight on Saturday night in downtown Auburn.
“When individuals fail to meet the expectations of our program, there has to be consequences,” Malzahn said on Monday night after meeting with the wide receiver to discuss his off-the-field behavior following Saturday’s Homecoming victory over San Jose State.
Duke Williams came to Auburn from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Williams was suspended from last season’s Outback Bowl game, but was allowed to return for his senior season. He was suspended again in preseason, but played in all five games for the Tigers, who will take a 3-2 record into next week’s SEC football game at Kentucky.
The wide receiver was expected to be one of the top players in the SEC this year, but made just 12 catches for 147 yards and one touchdown this year. Last season he made 45 catches for 730 yards despite missing four games.
On Tuesday the wide receiver moved out of his dorm room and the head coach said that Williams is also not returning for fall semester classes.
Malzahn said that he has no regrets having Williams as a part of the team and added, “I have seen him grow as a person when he was here and I think this place was good for him, and we wish him nothing but the best for the future.”