Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Last Hoorah For Mike Williams?

It seems like yesterday that Mike Williams was clad in the cardinal and gold and wearing that No. 1 on his chest. The memories of spectacular catches and dominating performances are still fresh. By his sophomore year, Williams was averaging an unbelievable “1 touchdown for every 5 touches”. He was alerted by the Downtown Athletics club that he was in consideration for the Heisman Trophy. He was a first team all American and AP national champion, but quickly things changed.

After losing a battle with the NFL for early entry, Mike sat out an entire year from football, and still managed to become the 10th overall pick in the 2005 draft. That would become the highlight of his NFL career, as he has appeared on 4 different NFL rosters since entering the league. Mike Williams is a bust, but not without another chance. This upcoming season with the Tennessee Titans could possibly mark the last hoorah in the NFL tour of Michael Williams.

There’s a mutual respect between Titans coach Jeff Fischer and troubled receiver Mike Williams. Fischer, the Trojan grad, and Williams, the former Trojan star, are in a position where each needs the other. The Titans are desperately in need of targets for Vince Young, and Williams is in desperate need of keeping his job. Of all the rosters Mike has appeared on, this may be the most logical fit.

Tennessee represents the first playoff team for Williams, after struggling in Detroit and Oakland. It’s also a place without a true No. 1 receiver, as the Lions featured Roy Williams, and the Raiders split Porter out wide. There isn’t the pressure of comparison that often leads to criticism and disappointment. The Titans run a system where the passing game supports the run game, and not vice versa. They also feature a quarterback that struggles with accuracy, so the bigger the target, the better.

But before Williams could even take the field, Fischer laid out his expectations and demands. If Williams is going to continue to struggle with his weight and work ethics, he cannot be a part of this team. Williams arrived at the Titans OTA’s 30 pounds lighter, early, and ready to work. There is no more guessing. This is the last stop. It may have come 3 years late, but it seems as if Mike Williams has finally matured. “Now or never” situations are usually good for speeding along that process.

I believe a decision to try and force early entry into the NFL, that eventually cost him is college eligibility, is something that slowed his growth. But looking at his companion (Maurice Clarett) who also pushed the courts for sophomore entry, the house of busts is far better than that house of bars. There is no guarantee that Williams will make the Titans final cut or even survive the season, but I wish him the best for going out trying, rather than sitting back, as in years past, expecting automatic roster spots based on collegiate tape and statistics.

Thanks for the memories, Mike. Fight On!

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