MOBILE, Ala. – After the 2011 season, Baylor’s football team lost superstar quarterback Robert Griffin III, top running back
The losses seemed almost insurmountable. Yet, by the time the 2012 season was through, Baylor had barely missed a beat offensively. In many ways, they were even better in 2012, finishing first in the nation in total offense and fourth in passing offense.
In looking to fill the massive void left behind by the departures of their top stars, Baylor turned to wide receiver Terrance Williams.
The only difference in the offense, according to Williams, was there were less one-play drives and more that took two or three.
When it was all said and done, Williams was a finalist for the Bilitnekoff Award as the nation’s top receiver. He posted 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns on 97 catches. For those keeping score at home, that’s a per catch average of 18.9.
Williams credits Baylor’s coaching staff for giving him the chance to follow in the footsteps of Wright, who was drafted No. 20 overall by Tennessee last year, and Gordon, a second-round pick in the supplemental draft.
“Basically, if you put people in the right spots and tell them where they have to be then I think you get it done,” Williams said. “That’s basically what we did. Sometimes we didn’t have the one play drives like we did with Robert but we’d have two plays and three plays and our coach would put us in positions to make big plays.”
So Williams arrived here this week hoping to prove that his numbers were no fluke and that his production can sustain even as he transitions out of Baylor’s high-octane spread system.
“That’s what I came here for,” Williams said. “I came here to show that I can run a pro style type offense and basically just to get better day by day. But that’s basically what gives me the motivation to become the No. 1 (receiver).”
In a draft class devoid of a clear-cut No. 1 wideout – most scouts point to Tennessee’s Cordarelle Patterson as the top player at the position despite his small sample size – Williams believed coming to this week’s Senior Bowl was a chance to separate from the competition.
Getting separation is something Williams has lad little trouble doing for most of his career. He expects to clock in a 40-yard dash time somewhere in the 4.4 range when he runs at next month’s combine and at Baylor’s pro day.
Despite that deep speed, which has been apparent most of the week in practice, Williams said he believes teams will be impressed by his penchant for doing the dirty work.
“I take pride in blocking,” Williams said. “That’s something I take pride in coming out of Baylor. It gives you a chance to impose your will on the cornerback so I just take a lot of pride in blocking.”
PATTON MAKES A PUSH: Williams isn’t the only wideout making an impression in Mobile this week and he’s definitely not the only one to keep an eye on in Saturday’s game.
Louisiana Tech receiver Quinton Patton has emerged this week from the shadows of his small school background to prove that he needs to be in the conversation among the best wideouts in this draft.
“Everybody is on an even level,” Patton said. “But me, I’m confident in my game and I want to be the best receiver out here.”
Like Williams, Patton is supremely confident in his abilities and believes he has the goods to be the first wideout off the board in April. Also like Williams, he takes pride in the details.
“I feel like I am one of the best receivers because I bring so much to the game,” Patton said. “I can block, I can do the little things and the little details that I need to do to help my team win.”
Patton did plenty of that for Louisiana Tech in 2012, helping his offense emerge as one of the nation’s most productive and dynamic. In his final season, Patton put up 104 catches for 1,392 yards and 13 touchdowns.
At 6 foot, 202 pounds, Patton isn’t the burner Williams is nor does he have the size of someone like Kansas State’s Chris Harper. But he finds ways to get the job done with a game he says he models after Baltimore wideout Anquan Boldin.
Coming from a smaller school, Patton said he’s used to people looking past him but uses that as motivation.
“That’s how it’s always been,” Patton said. “In life, some people get overlooked especially at small schools. But you have got to play with that chip on your shoulder when you come from a small school.”
JENKINS SHINES: One player who would be almost impossible to overlook even if you wanted to is Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins.
The massive run stuffer arrived in Mobile at 360 pounds and has had some violent collisions with opposing linemen in various drills this week, including some monster matchups with Kentucky guard Larry Warford.
Jenkins has had to answer some questions about his motor going on and off but he says he has the motor to be better than what anyone’s seen and more than just a run stuffer.
“I feel like I’m very explosive,” Jenkins said. “I’m a big guy who works hard. I really do rush (the passer well). That’s why I’m here. That’s my mission.”
In what figures to be a crowded defensive tackle class, Jenkins believes he can be the best in his class.
“Yeah, why not?” Jenkins said. “This is a business. Everyone here is a competitor. If you’re not, there’s no reason to be here.”