Williams overcame serious neck injury to be the best No. 7

Williams overcame serious neck injury to be the best No. 7

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Williams overcame serious neck injury to be the best No. 7

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Through the years, Clemson Football has had countless All-Americans and All-Conference players to help it become one of college football’s best programs.

With that said, who wore their number the best? Clemson has retired just three numbers it is proud history. Steve Fuller’s No. 4, C.J. Spiller’s No. 28 and Banks McFadden’s No. 66. However, the Tigers have had many decorated players wear those numbers and more.

Who wore what number the best? We continue our series with who wore No. 7 the best at Clemson.

Former running back Cliff Austin helped Clemson win the 1981 National Championship, as one of the many running backs Clemson used on its way to an undefeated season. In 1982, he represented the No. 7 proudly when he set the single-game rushing record with 260 yards in a 49-14 rout of Duke.

Tony Horne also represented the No. 7 jersey well during his time at Clemson. The former wide receiver was the Tigers’ big-play threat in 1996 and ’97 and was one of the program’s best punt returners of all-time as well.

Former defensive ends Ricky Sapp and Austin Bryant wore the number well for the Tigers. Bryant was an All-American in 2017 and tied the single-game record for sacks with four in Clemson’s 14-6 win over Auburn that year.

However, the best to wear No. 7 in Clemson history has to be Mike Williams. The former wide receiver played a huge role in the Tigers’ national championship season of 2016.

In 2016, a year after he broke a small bone in his neck, Williams led the Tigers with 98 catches for 1,361 yards, while catching a team-high 11 touchdowns.

The former Tiger said he was determined to get himself back on the field in 2016 and he did whatever he could to make it happen.

“I was taking my neck brace off to be honest when I wasn’t supposed to,” Williams said at the time. “I was just doing pushups, doing sit ups, doing neck rotations just trying to get my neck right. So, I mean I was basically just trying to stay in shape to prepare for this opportunity.”

When he got back, Williams made up for lost time. Six times in 2016, he went over the century mark in terms of yards, and two different times he caught at least 12 passes in a game. His best game came against Pitt when he hauled in a career-high 15 passes for a career-high 202 yards.

Williams also caught 12 passes for 146 yards against NC State, had 149 receiving yards against Auburn on nine catches, and 106 yards against Syracuse. In the national championship game against Alabama, he made one spectacular catch after another in the Tigers’ come-from-behind victory.

However, the game and moment everyone remembers is when Williams carried a South Carolina defender on his back into the end zone during the Tigers’ 56-7 victory over the Gamecocks. It was one of his record three touchdown receptions that night as he finished the game with six catches for 100 yards.

“I just use my size to my advantage,” he said.

“I’ve always been using that since high school,” he continued. “I mean you see those smaller DB’s trying to come up and guard you. I would just tell Deshaun (Watson), ‘Put it up there, I’ll go get it.’”

And the two did that a lot during their time at Clemson.

Williams finished his career fifth in Clemson history in receptions (177) and fourth in yards (2,727). He also finished third in touchdown receptions (21).

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