As we all know, Mike Williams had quite the checkered history at Syracuse University. When he was in uniform he was one of the best receivers to ever wear the orange and blue. Off the field, it was an entirely different story.
His freshman year (2006) he would catch 24 balls for 461 yards and 4 touchdowns. Not bad for a true freshman. In fact, he led the team in receiving yards that year, the first freshman to do so at Syracuse since 1983, and and his 46.1 yards per game was 6th best in the Big East.
Sophomore year for Mike Williams would be an epic one. Williams would tie Syracuse's single season reception leader Kevin Johnson with a whopping 60 catches. His 837 receiving yards in 2007 would be the 8th best season in Syracuse history. He would also score the 3rd most touchdowns in SU history this season with 10. Hopes were high for Mike Williams after the season and he was named to the 2007 All-Big East Second Team.
From here it all went downhill fast. Mike Williams was suspended from the school for "academic reasons." Loosely translated, he cheated on a test. Possibly as many as two tests in the same class. He would miss the entire 2008 season.
Williams would, however, fight his way back onto the team in time for the 2009 season. Greg Robinson was fired at the end of the 2008 campaign and Doug Marrone was in at head coach. Mike Williams attended classes at Springfield Technical Community College in Massachusetts in 2008 and had good enough grades to re-enroll at Syracuse.
Mike Williams splashed back onto the scene in a 23-20 overtime loss to Minnesota in the Dome. Williams would catch 7 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. He would go on to total 49 receptions 746 yards and 6 touchdowns in seven games. Why seven games you may ask? Well, Mr. Williams and a few teammates were involved in a non-alcohol related car accident near Turning Stone Casino and with 4 games left in the season it was announced that Mike Williams would not be returning.
It was Mike William's second curfew violation of the season and Coach Marrone said that a suspension would be handed down. Rather than serving any suspension Mike Williams found himself off the Syracuse football team. There remains some debate as to whether or not Williams quit the team or if he was thrown off the team, but however you cut it his time at Syracuse was over.
[Allegedly, Marrone told Mike Williams there would be a team vote, and if they wanted him back, he would be on the team. Mike Williams was told that they would be calling him with their decision. From here the details get fuzzy. The team reported that they called Williams telling him that he was going to be allowed to return, however he did not answer his phone. Williams said that his phone was lost in the car in which the accident occurred, and he wasn't available at home because his roommate had swine flu and Williams had to take up residence at another location. Marrone took this as Mike Williams being disinterested in re-joining the team and sent out a press release informing the media he would no longer be a member of the Orangemen.]
His career totals at Syracuse are 133 receptions (4th all-time) 2,044 yards (5th all-time) and 20 touchdowns (2nd all-time). Had he stayed in uniform for 4 years at Syracuse he would have obliterated all the wide receiver records at the University. He would go on to be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 4th round 101st overall. He was the 14th wide receiver taken in the 2010 draft.
Currently, we are 2 weeks into the NFL season and the pick is paying off big time for the Bucs. Mike Williams is 2nd on the team with 7 catches, totaling 84 yards and 2 TDs. Only Kellen Winslow has more catches and yardage, however Williams is currently leading the team in touchdowns. The 2-0 Buccaneers play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers this week and if the team wants to continue their winning ways they will need continued contributions from Mike Williams.
With a seemingly non-existent running attack so far for the Bucs, the passing game will have to be the catalyst for their offense. Williams is an early favorite target for quarterback Josh Freeman and if he can stay healthy and keep his head in the game he should continue to put up solid rookie stats in the NFL. He's big, athletic, and has great hands. His vision on the field is fantastic as well. He is absolutley an NFL caliber receiver. Can he stay out of trouble long enough to find success at the professional level?
For Syracuse fans across the country, the question is do we fully back Mike Williams? Draft him for our fantasy teams and brag to our friends about how Syracuse's WR is tearing up the NFL? I'm not sure. On one hand Mike Williams was one of the best receivers to play in the Dome. On the other hand he was thrown out of school once and then walked away from the team after fighting his way back on. He's a troubled case for sure. I wish him the best and if he can get through the entire season and stay out of trouble I think Syracuse fans can remember him for the player he was on the field, and not off it.
syracuse photo courtesy of syracuse.com, buccaneers photo courtesy of getty images.