Duke Williams and Cassanova McKinzy running late, but headed to Tampa & Outback Bowl, says Auburn's Gus Malzahn— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) December 26, 2014
Whew. So apparently Duke will be there. Awesome. HOPES ARE STILL ALIVE HE RETURNS NEXT YEAR!
If he does end up still being one-and-done, I hope he goes out torching Wisconsin's secondary from laser precision passes by Nick Marshall. Though that may not happen, since Coach Malzahn apparently declined to say whether or not he would play.
The first to break the news on Twitter (at least that I saw) was James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser.
D'haquille Williams does not appear to be here, was not seen walking in with team. Will hear from Gus Malzahn after dinner.— James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) December 26, 2014
BREAKING: Auburn WR Dhaquille Williams did not join the team in Tampa for the Outback Bowl, per a source.— Alex Byington (@AUBlog) December 26, 2014
Auburn receiver D'haquille Williams did not arrive with team at dinner banquet.— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) December 26, 2014
Heard rumors Duke had been in contact with agents. He's Most certainly going pro now.— Clint Richardson® (@Clintau24) December 26, 2014
I emphasize that the last tweet is a rumor, but Clint does seem to have generally have good eyes and ears among student athletes to get good rumors. RUMINT is always to be taken with a grain of salt. There is always the chance that he may be in the dog house for some reason or other and may return to the team next season. Maybe he's decided it's in his best interest to sit out the bowl game and stay healthy for the Combine and the NFL Draft. What is known at the time is that he does not appear to be with the team in Tampa for the bowl game.
If this is true and Duke Williams' Auburn career is indeed at an end, then it's a shame that it ended this way. Duke was a special player who played hard and performed just as we expected he would when he signed with Auburn. I was really hoping to see him fully healthy in the bowl game.
Duke had 45 receptions for 730 yards and 5 touchdowns this season with the Tigers. His three biggest games of the season were against Arkansas, Kansas State, and Alabama, where he really showed the world what he was capable of with key grabs and clutch plays. He missed the Georgia and Samford games due to an injury sustained early in the Texas A&M game, and his loss clearly hurt the team against Georgia.
We all expected Duke would be a one-and-done player, but Auburn fans still held out hopes that the lure of a much more pass-oriented offense (or at least an offense with a more prodigious passer at the helm; let's not kid ourselves that Gus is going to get away from the run with Jovon, Roc, Peyton Barber, and Kerryon Johnson) would bring him back for one more season.
Personally, I expected he was one-and-done all along, and the catch he made early in the Ole Miss game where he was falling out of bounds and tapped both feet in sealed the deal. You know there were NFL draft scouts drooling over that play.
If this is it for him - and this isn't just a case of him being punished for a violation of team rules or some such and he comes back for a senior season - then we wish him all the best. He's a special player, and I hope he goes on to great things in the NFL. It was fun to watch him in an Auburn uniform this season.