As a freshman in 2002, Williams caught 81 passes for 1,265 yards and 14 touchdowns. A year later, he reeled in 95 more balls for 1,314 yards and 16 TDs. It's safe to say that there have been some pretty incredible wide receivers to wear a Trojan uniform, but after only two seasons, Williams was already the school's career leader in touchdowns receptions.
Williams left USC after his sophomore year with hopes of gaining entry into the 2004 NFL Draft, but after another high-profile youngster lost his early-entry battle in the courts - Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett - Williams was forced to miss a year of competitive football before finally becoming eligible for the draft in 2005.
ESPN expert Mel Kiper Jr. listed him as his best available player, so when Detroit general manager Matt Millen saw Williams was still on the board at No. 10, Millen pulled the trigger despite having already drafted receivers Charles Rogers and Roy Williams in the first round the last two years. They all had size, they all could make the circus catch, and they all were wildly productive in powerhouse college conferences. It sounded silly to draft a wideout the his top pick three straight years, but at the time, Millen looked to be loaded with talented pass-catchers for the rest of the decade.
Rogers is now out of the league with substance abuse problems and questions surrounding his attitude, yet Williams might be considered more of a bust right now.
Williams was inactive for several games this season and had caught a grand total of four passes in 2006 coming into Week 16's tilt with the Bears. The word in Detroit is that he is 20 pounds overweight, hasn't grasped offensive coordinator Mike Martz's system, and doesn't work very hard in practice. Despite all that, he still had a chance to be the hero on Sunday.
Trailing 26-21 in the final seconds at Ford Field, Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna somehow managed to elude the fierce Chicago pass rush and launched a desperation pass to the end zone. Williams, who checks in at 6'4", was being covered one-on-one by still-learning rookie cornerback Devin Hester, who is generously listed at 5'11". Williams got himself into position, used his body to keep Hester at bay, and utilized his 37" vertical leap to gain separation.
Only he forgot to catch the football.
Game over. Bears win. Lions fans continue to walk around the Motor City with bags over their heads.
Williams dropped several passes on the day, but that one in the end zone on the final play of the game may just be a microcosm of his career and the entire Lions season. Kitna couldn't believe it. Head coach Rod Marinelli couldn't believe. Even Williams himself apparently couldn't believe it as he continued to sit on his rear with the clock reading 0:00. In the aftermath, however, Detroit fans didn't seem overly surprised.
Mike Furrey, an undrafted free agent out of Northern Iowa who was playing safety last season, is Detroit's leading receiver with 87 catches. Williams, on the other hand, is the Bear Report Dud of the Week.
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