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D.J. Williams: Unsung Hero

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The final minutes of the victory over Georgia were filled with highlight-worthy moments: Dylan Breeding's thoroughly awesome 57-yard punt; Jake Bequette's teeth-rattling sack of Aaron Murray; and, of course, Ryan Mallett's 40-yard touchdown pass to Greg Childs.

Perhaps somewhat lost among those heroics were tight end D.J. Williams' two receptions - the first for 18 yards, the second for 15 - on the game-winning drive. D.J. may not be as well-known to college football fans as some of his teammates, but Saturday's final drive showed what an important part of this team he is.

There was a fair amount of talk during the off-season about Mallett's need to make better use of Williams. After starring for the Hogs during the often-trying 2008 season, D.J. was a relatively invisible presence for Arkansas last year. His receptions tumbled to 32 from 61 the year before, and his total receiving yards dropped from 723 to 411. Some of that was due, obviously, to the emergence of Childs, Joe Adams and Jarius Wright. But as effective as that wide receiver trio was, too often Mallett tried to launch long bombs to them when a boring old mid-range missile to Williams would have kept a drive alive. 

The sample size is small, but so far, Mallett is making better use of D.J. Already, Williams has caught 14 passes for 173 yards. That's 44 percent and 42 percent, respectively, of his 2009 totals. Furthermore, he's averaging 57.6 receiving yards per game, up from 31.6 per game in 2009. His average yards per catch is roughly the same - 12.4 this year, 12.8 in 2009.

I'll always remember D.J. Williams fondly for the way that he helped keep the 2008 team afloat. And I really like the fact that he appears to have a great sense of humor (and he can also bang out a mean version of "Lean on Me" on the keyboards). He's easy to root for, and I think he's going to give us lots to cheer about in 2010.