Broken bone in the neck. It sounds very scary. It is very scary. And that is what Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams is now dealing with after colliding with the goal post on a touchdown catch Saturday against Wofford.
Williams will be okay and fortunately his football career will resume. However, when he will return to action is up in the air. Head coach Dabo Swinney said that Williams will be re-evaluated in six weeks and a decision will be made at that time as to whether the junior will suit up again this season.
If Williams is done in 2015, the Tigers will be losing a 6-foot-4, 210-pound big-play threat. They’re losing a receiver that caught 57 balls for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns in 2014. How does Clemson replace the Vance, S.C., native?
In one sense, the offense won’t, at least not with one guy. However, Clemson does have some talented options to help keep its passing game clicking.
It is hard to imagine Artavis Scott being able to do more than he did last year. The sophomore had a big first year in the upstate and picked up right where he left off in the season opener with 136 total yards. Scott also is a player that works the underneath routes and gets yards after the catch while Williams is more of the downfield threat.
Charone Peake and Germone Hopper are two veterans that will be given a greater role in the offense with Williams out. Peake is a senior that has battled injuries and Hopper is a junior that was fourth on the team in receptions last year. They both can be solid replacements but there are players with higher ceilings at this point.
Those players are Ray-Ray McCloud and Deon Cain. The freshmen were extremely impressive in camp and both were going to play regardless of the Williams injury. McCloud burst on the scene in a big way Saturday, as the Tampa product caught eight passes for 80 yards. He seemed to be running patterns similar to Scott, but he also showed an ability to stretch the field a bit. Cain also got into the game early on and will be someone that can grow in this offense.
By the way, Clemson has this guy Deshaun Watson that can really throw the ball and this guy Wayne Gallman who can really run the ball. Those two, along with Scott, give Clemson three premier playmakers on offense.
But Williams is a special player and, assuming that he is out for the season, he will be missed. And Clemson has already suffered several unforeseen personnel losses since the end of last season. Fortunately, Swinney and his staff have recruited very well, especially at the receiver position. It is also one of the spots on the field where a player can contribute early and the Tigers seem to have two exciting freshmen to fill the void.
The situation is not ideal for Clemson, that’s for sure. But don’t fret Tiger fans, your team will still score a lot of points this year.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.