‘He's going to help us'

CLEMSON - Dabo Swinney sees a lot of the same characteristics in Mike Williams that helped make DeAndre Hopkins a first-round draft pick.

That was the message the Clemson coaches had for Williams when he was courted by some of college football's top programs. And it's why Clemson wanted him to play the 9-position that Hopkins occupied in each of the last two seasons.

Thus far through preseason camp, Williams has been more than adequate as the backup to Martavis Bryant, who will start at the 9-position this fall.

Much like he's done over the last few weeks, Williams flashed during Saturday's stadium scrimmage, pulling down three catches for 111 yards and a touchdown.

His score was a 50-yard hookup with Nick Schuessler.

"[Williams'] kind of like a taller Nuk Hopkins, similar skill set, as far as his ability to catch the football in awkward situations, high pointing the ball," Swinney said. "Hopefully, he'll develop like Nuk did. When Nuk came in here as a freshman, very similar in a lot of ways, except Mike is just bigger. Mike's just a lot bigger than Nuk was."

An instate guy like Hopkins, Williams was a four-star prospect at Lake Marion High School. As a senior, he caught 60 passes for 1,395 yards and 10 touchdowns. During his junior season, he hauled in 66 receptions for 1,296 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Before each of those two seasons, Williams spent time in Clemson for Swinney's camp.

"Raw, great ball skills, long, lanky, great body control," Swinney said, when asked about his first impression of Williams. "He hasn't disappointed. Since then, he's gotten stronger and faster, more knowledge and all that kind of stuff."

Chad Morris saw the same kinds of things from Williams during that camp session back in June of 2011.

"He's a guy that goes up and gets the ball. The ball's in there, uncontested, he's going to come down with it. That's what really excited me about him," Morris said. "He wasn't, maybe not quite knock the led off of it, speed-wise. He's got really good speed."

Tajh Boyd certainly doesn't mind having another weapon in his arsenal of play-making receivers.

"Mike has been playing really well," Boyd said. "He can go get it, go get the ball. He's starting to understand why we run certain plays and why he's running his route to this particular point. He's really grasping it."

Just imagine how much better Williams will be a year from now, two years from now.

"He's in a great spot right now, physically," Swinney said. "Where he's going to be two years from now, that kid is going to be special. He's just going to be more explosive, stronger, take what he's got and get even better."

On Aug. 31, everyone else will get to see exactly where Williams is starting from.

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