Devon Williams shows why he's a 5-star talent in breakout game vs UCLA originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest
Have yourself a day, Devon Williams.
The former five-star recruit showed why he was rated the nation's No. 1 athlete coming out of high school, with a six-reception, 123-yard, and one touchdown performance in No. 11 Oregon's 38-35 victory over UCLA.
With starting wide receiver Mycah Pittman out for the second consecutive week for undisclosed reasons, Williams got the start on the outside and he took full advantage.
"I feel like it [was] a big opportunity for me," explained Williams. "But, at the same time, we just have to step up and move on with the situation.
"We play for each other and I was definitely playing for Mycah as well."
Williams wasn't a one-trick pony either. He made an impact in all facets of the passing game. He hauled in a 49-yard 50-50 ball when in single coverage to flip the field. On his touchdown, his route running caused the defensive back to fall over leaving Williams alone in the endzone.
— Oregon Football (@oregonfootball) November 21, 2020
The performance was noticed by his teammates, including quarterback Anthony Brown who gave him a shoutout on Twitter.
The redshirt sophomore has also been running shallow crossing routes all season to take advantage of his ability to gain yards after the catch.
In short, Williams has quickly become one of the Ducks' most lethal offensive weapons. Also, given his versatility, Williams will be hard for the defense to gameplan out of a contest.
There's a reason Oregon wanted Williams so badly out of high school and that interest in him joining the program didn't dissipate when he entered the transfer portal while at USC.
At 6'5", 205-pounds, Williams adds a dimension to the Ducks offense that has been missing for years. Juwan Johnson had a similar build but he battled injuries for much of his lone season in Eugene, Oregon last season.
However, despite his physical tools, Williams was not living up to expectations heading into Saturday with just three catches for 40 yards through two games.
That's when head coach Mario Cristobal challenged Williams to step up his game.
"I probably haven't been harder on anybody as hard as I've been on Devon and I think for reasons where I think it's the ultimate sign of respect when you really challenge someone," said Cristobal.
Rather than fold, Williams accepted the tough love and worked to become the player that showed up against the Bruins.
"His last two weeks of practice, everyone has noticed what a tremendous job he has done pushing himself, learning the system, and practicing and working really, really hard and found some opportunities to make some contested catches that ended up being huge plays as well," said Cristobal.
"To be pushed like that it means a lot to the team and me, as well," said Williams. "Whatever I can do for the team to get wins that's what I got to do. [Cristobal] expects nothing but the best from me."
"So really proud of Devon and I really feel like he's another guy that's just kind of getting going now. We feel like he's going to be an excellent football player," added Cristobal.
Performances like Saturday are why the Oregon program is so high on Williams and his potential.
Next up, the Ducks (3-0) will head north for a rivalry game at Oregon State (1-2) at 4 PM (PT) on Friday, November 27 at Reser Stadium.