Why Dabo ‘couldn’t be more pleased’ with Antonio Williams, Clemson freshman WRs

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Antonio Williams is “quick as a cat.”

Cole Turner “hasn’t dropped a ball.”

And Adam Randall, despite his ongoing recovery from surgery to repair a torn ACL, beat out everyone else in his position group by running a GPS-tracked 20 mph.

Safe to say Clemson football’s freshman wide receivers, two of whom enrolled this summer, are making an early impression on coach Dabo Swinney after the program’s first three 2022 preseason practices.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Swinney said Monday. “That’s a great group.”

Clemson returns a number of experienced receivers including Joseph Ngata, Beaux Collins, Brannon Spector and EJ Williams, but its three rookie wideouts are still turning heads.

Local talents

Williams, the No. 61 overall recruit in the class of 2022 and No. 3 player in the state of South Carolina, has the best chance for early snaps among the group.

The summer enrollee and four-star recruit racked up 1,569 receiving yards and averaged 30.4 yards per punt return to cap off a memorable career at Irmo’s Dutch Fork High School.

“Antonio is just a really smooth, very knowledgeable young player,” Swinney said. “He’s got a lot of good experience, and he’s played ball at a high level in this state and had success – and you see that in him.”

Given his proven chops at the position, Williams could also mix in at punt returner.

Clemson’s Adam Randall at the Tigers’ first practice of 2022 camp on Friday, Aug. 5.
Clemson’s Adam Randall at the Tigers’ first practice of 2022 camp on Friday, Aug. 5.

Randall, a four-star recruit and the nation’s No. 111 player out of Myrtle Beach High School, enrolled early and “was as good as we had in the spring,” Swinney said.

Randall tore his ACL in April and has worn a yellow non-contact jersey so far in preseason practice. But, as his receiver-best speed of 20 mph indicates, he’s continued his recovery at a rapid rate – enough that he could be ready to play sometime in September, per Swinney.

“If he’s healthy, he can help anybody in the country,” Swinney said. “There’s no doubt about that.”

‘Natural’ skills

As for Turner, a three-star recruit from Alabama and the younger brother of former All-American Clemson safety Nolan Turner: he has some of the stickiest hands on the team.

“If he touches it, he catches it,” Swinney said. “He’s got some of the most natural ball skills and body control and reactionary ability to (get) wherever the ball is.”

Unlike Williams (6-0, 192 pounds) and Randall (6-2, 230 pounds), Turner (6-2, 180) “needs a year in the weight room,” Swinney acknowledged. But he’s also up there with Randall as one of the fastest receivers on the team and “could help us anywhere,” Swinney said.

“I just don’t know that we’ll need him this year,” Swinney said.

As Clemson puts on pads for the first time Tuesday and preps for its first scrimmage Saturday, freshman wide receivers Williams, Randall and Turner have only added to a deep unit.

“We’ve got a good group, man,” Swinney said. “Receiver’s been a real bright spot for us.”