ESJ’s Williams ready for Auburn

Published 11:45 pm Friday, August 29, 2014


“If you drop a football from the ceiling and you have a room full of people below,” former East St. John coach Larry Dauterive once quipped of D’haquille Williams, “he’ll come up with that football. I have no doubt.”

Williams began his East St. John playing career during his junior season, after transferring from the now-defunct Liberty Christian Academy. And today, once again, Williams will take the big stage for the first time during a junior season, and this time, it’s been long anticipated: he’ll take the field for the 2013 national runner-up Auburn Tigers, who host SEC rival Arkansas at 2 p.m.

The former East St. John star set the prep landscape ablaze after transferring to the school from Liberty Christian Academy. Despite only playing football in his junior and senior seasons of high school — Liberty did not have a football program — Williams became ESJ’s go-to receiver from day one and made the Class 5A All-State team in both his seasons at the school.

Williams’ final season at ESJ was the 2010-11 campaign, and he was highly recruited, but because he was a non-academic qualifier, he took the junior college route, passing a GED exam and enrolling at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

While at Liberty Christian, Williams earned no credits applicable to a Louisiana High School diploma.

He sat out for one season, then the 6’3”, 215 lb. freshman went to work on the field, posting 67 receptions for 1,295 yards and 17 touchdowns in his first season, earning JUCO All-American honors. He followed that up with 51 catches for 733 touchdowns and nine touchdowns in a nine-game sophomore year.

After a fierce recruiting battle, Williams committed, then de-committed from LSU before pledging — and ultimately signing — with Auburn.

Dauterive said he’s looking quite forward to seeing his former player on the collegiate stage.

“He has amazing ability,” Dauterive said. “In 44 years, Ryan Perrilloux and D’haquille Williams have stood as the best athletes I’ve ever coached. God has given him some wonderful gifts. His hands are as good as anyone’s. He’s got deceptive speed and a big body. He’s gotten so strong.”

Receivers with Williams’ size who run a 4.4 40-yard dash hardly grow on trees, and he has already begun flashing signs of his ability. During Auburn’s spring scrimmage, Williams caught five passes for 88 yards and a score, and a video of a Williams touchdown reception in practice — a one-handed, twisting catch between two defenders — has gone viral online.

“(Auburn coach) Gus Malzahn loves him,” Dauterive said. “He loves his work ethic and leadership. And he loves that D’haquille blocks. When he’s not getting the ball, he blocks his tail off. He always has.”

Dauterive believes Williams is in the right offense to succeed.

“I’m not sure anyone in the country has the weapons (Auburn has),” Dauterive said.

“I think this year’s going to be a coming out party. And who knows, he might up be one-and-done (and off to the NFL).”