Jarrett tries to distance self from Mike Williams
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Like it or not, Mike Williams probably is hurting Dwayne Jarrettís draft prospects. Like Williams, Jarrett is big (6-4, 219), was a big-time playmaker at Southern California, has been compared to Keyshawn Johnson . . . and has questionable speed.
Trouble is, after being selected 10th overall in the 2005 draft by Detroit, Williams has done little in the pros. He caught a modest 29 passes as a rookie. In 2006, he didnít click with new Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz, catching only eight passes for the former Rams head coach.
Itís comes as no surprise, then, that Jarrett reaches for the proverbial 10-foot pole when asked to compare himself with Williams.
"The only thing we have in common is we went to the same school," Jarrett said. "Mike, he did great while he was at USC. But I think we're two opposite players, totally different personalities."
"Iím just more a humble guy, and Mike is just kind of different," Jarrett said.
When asked if he could draw on Williamsí experience, Jarrett replied: "I donít really know what he didnít do (in the NFL), so I canít answer that question."
In fairness, Williams was hurt by an eligibility dispute that resulted in him sitting out the 2004 season at Southern Cal. Jarrett comes to the pros fresh off a 70-catch, 12-touchdown 2006 season for the Trojans.
Despite his self-professed humility, Jarrett bristled slightly when told that Georgia Techís Calvin Johnson considers himself the best player in the draft.
"He thinks heís the best, and so be it," Jarrett said. "Let him think heís the best. . . . Everybody has their own opinion. I think my body of work speaks for itself."
Itís hard to argue with Jarrettís college production. In just three seasons at USC, he became the Pacific-10 Conference career record-holder with 41 TD catches. He is USCís career leader in receptions (216), and is the schoolís first two-time, first-team all-American at wide receiver.
But Jarrett probably made a tactical error in not running the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. A month later, he ran a pedestrian 4.62 at his pro day ó thatís the only time NFL teams have to go on before deciding to commit millions of dollars on Jarrett.
Of course, current NFL star Anquan Boldin of Arizona ran a 4.72 at the Combine in 2003. Jarrett must show heís the next Boldin, rather than the next Mike Williams.
Fresno Stateís Williams
Fresno State WR Paul Williams is the younger brother of J.D. Williams, a former first-round draft pick by Buffalo who played in four Super Bowls. Last season, with J.D. working as secondary coach for the University of Washington, Paul caught a 38-yard TD pass against the Huskies. En route to the end zone, Paul passed the No. 25 "shrine" in memory of another brother ó Curtis Williams.
Curtis Williams was a Huskies defensive back who was paralyzed making a tackle in a 2000 game against Stanford. He died of complications from that injury in 2002. Following Curtisí injury, Paul wanted to give up football.
"My senior year (in high school), I wanted to call it quits," Williams said. "And he said, ĎNo, I want to watch you play.í . . .So Iíve been playing ever since.
"Iím the youngest of eight kids. Both my parents are deceased. The older brothers and sister took over the parentsí role. They never really let me run wild. Iím 23 years old, and I still have to ask for permission to do things."
After making the all-Western Athletic Conference team in 2005, with 43 catches for 729 yards and seven TDs, Williams struggled through an injury-plagued í06. Knee and ankle injuries limited him to seven games and 21 catches. Williams, who has met with Rams officials including coach Scott Linehan, projects as a mid-round draft pick.
"Iíve learned to take everything in stride," Williams said. "You canít control everything that happens. You just deal with everything as you can."
The next Jerry Rice?
David Ball went to New Hampshire as a high jumper in track. He was a walk-on in football who eventually ran and caught his way into the NCAA Division I-AA record books. Ball, a native of Vermont, broke Jerry Riceís NCAA mark for career touchdown catches with 58. (Rice had 50 TD catches at Mississippi Valley State in the early 1980s.) Ball also tied Riceís I-AA career mark with 23 games with 100 yards receiving.
Ball spoke to Rice after breaking the TD record. What did Rice say?
" ĎWhy did you break my record?í " Ball recalled. "So heís always a competitor, and he always will be. Thatís his mentality. But truthfully, he was very respectful, and he was proud of me. I could sense it. And it was a privilege to talk to him.
Ball played for a small school and lacks blazing speed in the 40. (Then again, so did Rice.) But Ball knows he must prove himself all over again at the NFL level.
"It's been an uphill battle the whole time," said Ball, who projects as a late-round pick. "Coming from a small school, a small environment, there's not a lot of TV time or exposure for our university. So it's something that. . .I am used to it."
The eyes have it
LSU wide receiver Dwayne Bowe always wore contacts. But when the contacts came out in a game, he realized he couldnít see the ball all that well.
"So I just wanted to get them corrected," Bowe said.
He underwent Lasik eye surgery in July of 2006, just prior to his senior season in college.
"It was a great thing for me," Bowe said. "Iím glad I got it done. I can see the ball clearer. . . .I had a problem, I corrected it, and Iíve been on the roll."
Bowe, a probable first-round pick, established career highs last season with 65 catches for 990 yards, and a school-record 12 receiving TDs.
Jason Hill averaged 18.3 yards per catch at Washington State, with 46 of his 148 career catches good for 20 or more yards. . . .Ohio Stateís Anthony Gonzalez likes to cook Cuban food, and wants to enter law school once his playing career is over. . . .Southern Calís Steve Smith was recruited by several Pacific-10 schools in basketball after averaging 25.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 5 assists a game in 2002 at Taft High in Woodland Hills, Calif.