Williams could see expanded role

CLEMSON – Following the first practice of preseason camp in August, Tajh Boyd was not shy when asked about Mike Williams.

"He looked like Nuk Hopkins out there, the way he was high-pointing balls," Boyd said of Clemson's freshman receiver.

A day later, Chad Morris was no less ebullient in his comparison.

"Mike Williams has made two or three really good plays in camp," Morris said. "The guy looks like No. 6 out there going up and making some plays."

Six weeks later, Clemson needs Williams to live up to those comparisons.

This week, junior Charone Peake – the Tigers' No.2 wideout – suffered a season-ending torn ACL in a non-contact drills. Clemson now has only six healthy scholarship receivers.

And while junior Adam Humphries will take Peake's spot in the starting lineup, Williams and fellow freshman T.J. Green will be leaned upon more heavily in the passing game.

"Nuk did great things," Williams said earlier this week before Peake's injury. "If I can do what he did, that would be good, too."

The Lake Marion product was rated as the nation's No.38 wide receiver prospect when he signed with Clemson in February. At 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, he has the athletic build of a basketball player; like Hopkins, he was also a hardcourt standout.

"Basketball and football, they kind of go together hand in hand," he said. "When you're blocking, sliding, burying dudes, I use that for my blocking drills. When you can go up for a rebound, you go up and grab it. That helped me on deep ball situations. I use basketball when I play football, too."

He has also caught wide receivers coach Jeff Scott's attention with his blocking, a key to getting on the field early in Clemson's offense.

"I'm a great blocker," he said. "On running plays I can get up, make some key blocks. Or go for some deep balls when they need me."

Williams made his debut in the season-opening 38-35 win over then-No.5 Georgia, subbing for a winded Martavis Bryant.

"I was waiting for (Bryant) to call me since the first series of the game," Williams said. "When he called me, I was excited about going in. I felt I did a good job on that one play, and they felt like didn't need me rest of the game. I did what was best for the team."

South Carolina State was different.

"Coming into that game," he said, "the coaches told me it was a game where I could get a lot of time and build some trust."

He made two catches for 18 yards and graded out, he said, at 85 percent, due to a couple of missed assignments.

"That first catch, it was great," he said. "I had a lot of catches in my career, but first catches in Clemson career, first game, it felt great."

Many more lie ahead – and Clemson will need every one he can provide this season.

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