The No. 19 guy on our countdown of the SEC’s 25 best players was also on the preseason list a year ago.
No. 19: D.J. Williams, TE, Sr., Arkansas
2009 numbers: Third on Arkansas’ team with 32 catches for 411 yards and three touchdowns.
Most recent ranking: No. 15 on the 2009 preseason countdown.
Making the case for Williams: Over his last two seasons, the 6-foot-2, 251-pound Williams has caught 93 passes, including 61 as a sophomore. His numbers dropped some last season when Ryan Mallett took over as quarterback, but a big part of that was because Mallett spread the ball around to his deep pool of playmakers. Plus, one of Williams’ challenges was to become a more complete tight end, and he did that by improving his blocking. Williams was a second-team All-SEC selection last season and a first-team selection as a sophomore and returns for his senior season as one of the best pass-catching tight ends in college football. He’s especially good on third down with his ability to find open creases in the defense and does some of his best work after the catch. He’s also versatile enough to work inside, yet has good enough speed that the Hogs will split him out wide on occasion. Williams may not catch 60-plus passes again, simply because there are just so many catches to go around when you have as many good receivers as the Hogs do entering the 2010 season. But now that he’s been with Mallett for a season and the two of them have a better feel for each other, on those plays that matter the most, Williams will almost always be involved in some capacity.