With wide receivers Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson out for Saturday’s home finale against Pittsburgh, Clemson freshman E.J. Williams could potentially be making his first start for the Tigers. By itself, that would be big enough for anyone to make the day special.
However, Williams plans to make the day special either way.
On Friday, Clemson Football’s Communications Director Ross Taylor announced on Twitter Williams will change his No. 6 jersey to No. 39 this week to honor his father, Eddie Williams, Sr., as Clemson celebrates its military heritage with its annual Military Appreciation Game. The elder Williams died at the age of 39 years old in 2010 after serving 18 years in the U.S. Army.
WR E.J. Williams will be wearing No. 39 for Military Appreciation Day on Saturday instead of his usual No. 6.
His father, Sgt. 1st Class Eddie Williams Sr., died at 39 years of age in 2010 after serving 18 years in the U.S. Army. pic.twitter.com/1y0u3f4ymr
— Ross Taylor (@ClemsonFBRoss) November 27, 2020
Following Wednesday’s practice, head coach Dabo Swinney announced Ngata will miss the remainder of the regular season after having surgery to help alleviate some of the pain he was having in his abdomen from an injury earlier in the year. Earlier in the week, Swinney announced the Tigers will be without fellow wideout Frank Ladson due to a foot injury.
With Ngata and Ladson both out for Saturday’s game, the third-ranked Tigers will turn to E.J. Williams. Quietly, the Phenix City, Ala., native has been coming along for Clemson, especially with Ngata and Ladson missing so much playing time already.
“He has already had some big plays, but he is, in my opinion, poised to have a strong finish for us,” Swinney said.
Williams has played in all eight games for Clemson, while catching 12 passes for 143 yards. His best game was a three-catch performance for 58 yards against The Citadel on Sept. 19. He also had two catches against Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Boston College.
“I am really proud of the work he has put in and the development and the progression that he has had since he got here,” Swinney said. “He is definitely a guy we are counting on.”
It has been a tough year for Ngata, who has played in seven games, but has come in and out of the lineup due to the injury. He has seven catches for 83 yards and no touchdowns to this point.
“We ended up having to do some surgery on him this morning, but we feel like it is going to really help him and hopefully he is going to be back,” Swinney said. “He has been trying to push through this thing, but we did some surgery on him this morning and hopefully it will help him be really hundred percent and full go and be ready by the postseason. That is our goal.”
Swinney says he expects Ngata to be close to hundred percent by as early as the ACC Championship Game, should the Tigers advance to the title game for a sixth straight season.
Saturday will officially be the first game Ladson has not played, according to Clemson’s official stats, but he has not caught a pass in the last two games. The sophomore has 17 catches for 272 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Clemson and Pitt will play at 3:30 p.m., Saturday at Death Valley. The game will be televised by ABC.
The holiday season has arrived and it is time to get your favorite Tiger what they love. Up to 70 percent off today.
Please stay safe and get your officially licensed Clemson gear right here!