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Williams joins elite company

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Last season, when Clemson clinched the ACC Atlantic division title in a win over Florida State, Mike Williams was standing on the sideline after suffering a fractured neck in the season opener that forced him to miss all of 2015.

So, when Clemson clinched its second straight Atlantic division title with a 35-13 victory at Wake Forest on Saturday night, it was an especially sweet feeling for Williams.

“It feels good,” Williams said. “I wasn’t playing last year, so to be a part of the team this year and get it again felt very good.”

Williams hasn’t missed a beat this season in returning to pre-injury form, and the junior receiver recorded six catches for 58 yards and a touchdown reception against Wake.

The 58 yards put Williams over 1,000 yards receiving on the season. Through 11 games, the native of Vance, S.C., has 73 receptions for 1,014 yards and seven touchdowns.

After totaling more than 1,000 yards receiving as a sophomore in 2014, Williams joined former Clemson greats Rod Gardner and Sammy Watkins as the only players in Clemson history with two seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards.

“It’s an honor to be named with those group of guys,” Williams said. “It’s all hard work, and my teammates, too, play a part in that. So, it’s a good accomplishment.”

Williams went over the 1,000-yard mark in style, hauling in a 15-yard touchdown catch from Deshaun Watson on third down and 4 that extended Clemson’s lead to 21-0 late in the first quarter.

Williams also had a 22-yard grab on third and 4 earlier in the drive to keep it alive.

“It was a one-on-one matchup, and I had a fade opportunity,” Williams said of the touchdown. “Deshaun looked at me, I looked at him and knew he was coming to me.”

Overall this season, Williams has logged four 100-yard receiving games and scored a touchdown in seven of 11 games, including four straight from Sept. 22 to Oct. 15. He set career highs in receptions and receiving yards with 15 and 202, respectively, in Clemson’s loss to Pittsburgh last week.

Following Saturday’s performance, Williams passed Derrick Hamilton on Clemson’s all-time receiving yards list, and he currently ranks seventh in Clemson history with 2,360 yards.

Williams, who intends to declare for the NFL Draft after the season, will play in his final home game in Death Valley on Saturday against arch-rival South Carolina.

Therefore, it will be a special and emotional game for Williams as he looks to help Clemson stretch its winning streak in the series to three.

“Really excited,” Williams said. “It’s a big rivalry game, so I’m ready for it.”

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