During Gus Malzahn’s press conference over the weekend, a reporter posed a question to the head coach about wide receiver D’haquille “Duke” Williams. The reporter started the question with a rather shocking statement:

“(Auburn wide receiver coach) Dameyune (Craig) was saying yesterday that with D’haquille, he is the type of player that he’s compared to Jameis Winston in the sense that he could be a game-changer for the program.” 

You can hear the reporter’s statement and question that follows, although it is low, as well as Malzahn’s answer from AuburnSports.com’ coverage of the press conference starting at the 3:22 mark.

There has been a tremendous amount of hype surrounding the junior college transfer who arrived on the Plains in January after two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  Known for his big size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), athleticism and toughness, Williams can be a great compliment to Sammie Coates. Williams lead the Blue squad in the A-Day Game with a team-high five catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.

Between April and fall camp Craig has seen an improvement in Williams thanks to a his commitment to a summer workout plan.

“You can tell the conditioning has played a major role in his play,” said Williams. “Not to say that he didn’t come in here making amazing catches in the spring. He actually looks a little quicker now, a little faster. He is a dangerous player. He is getting in and out of his breaks with cat-like quickness. We are actually seeing a better product (now).”

“The thing that stood out to me is that he has given tremendous effort,” said Malzahn. “He wants to be good, he wants to be coached.”

There lies in why Craig thinks Williams can be a game-changer like Florida State’s Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston.

Craig has a first-hand account of what makes Winston a game-changer. As a member of Florida State’s coaching staff and top recruiter from 2010 to 2012, Craig plucked Winston out of Hueytown, Alabama and brought him to Tallahassee. It was a move that angered Alabamans, both Crimson Tide fans and fans of his alma mater but as he told USA Today “he was just doing his job.” Craig molded Winston his first year and watched him develop from an immature freshman into a leader.

Malzahn clarified that Williams will be lining up at the Y receiver position, which is an inside receiver position as oppose to being spread out wide. As the season moves along, Malzahn suggested that he’ll probably be able to move outside as well.

Auburn has tremendous depth at wide receiver this year with last year’s top four receivers returning. Their best one this year though might be Williams.

“He is one of the best receivers I’ve ever seen” Craig said. “I’ve been around NFL players and played in the NFL for four years.”