Let’s face it, Mike Williams just may be an enormous steal in this weekend’s draft.
The Buccaneers selected him in the 4th round; another young piece added to a roster that seems to be greener than Tampa Plante High School.
We in Orange Nation know what athletic gifts Mike Williams brings. Perfect combination of size, speed and hands to play wide receiver in the NFL for a decade.
Of course, those are the dynamic parts of the equation. There’s also the demons for Mike.
Can he stay grounded enough to battle through the challenge of every day NFL competition? There will be no academic tutors nor university assistants waking him up on time, shuttling him to practice.
He’s now a paid employee. There’s not much security in being a middle-round pick: Miss practice, get beaten out by another rookie for that roster spot, fail to find the motor to elevate your game. You’re more than likely asked to go home. There is precious little patience for 4th-round headaches.
But it’s impossible not to think maybe college was a bad fit for Mike. Too many second-chances, too much coddling, too much stress on academics. Maybe the stark reality of unemployment – yet the freedom to focus only on ball – will be what brings out the best in Mike.
But his baggage just makes it hard for any Orange fan to believe the real Mike Williams will show up every Sunday.
“Anybody who thinks Mike has character issues is nuts,” said his Riverside high school coach Tony Truilizio. “I had a very extensive conversation with coach Marrone from Syracuse, and I talked to Mike. It was clearly a communication problem on both parts. But to say Mike has character issues or is a quitter is foolish.”
“If you look at the paperwork previous to the academic issue, my understanding is he had the most hours in the tutoring program. Afterward when he was sent home and sent to junior college he maintained his grade point average and fought his way back on the team. After he got back to Syracuse, he still maintained a pretty high standard, to give Syracuse credit where it’s due. They’re about academics first.”
Look, we can pretend Mike’s a great kid who just got caught in communication issues. But come on. Truilizio sounds like part of the problem - it’s never Mike’s fault. You think first-year Doug Marrone wants to submarine his own season by dismissing his most talented player midway through the campaign - a talent that nabbed 49 receptions in just seven games?
Banished to junior college for a year. Tossed off the team his final season at Syracuse. Those are heck of communication problems.
We’d all like to believe Mike Williams will show the committment to become Marvin Harrison light; a Pro Bowl-caliber wideout for a decade in the NFL. He has the talent to do it. But color us pessimistic. Williams and committment are rarely used in the same sentence.