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Colorado State may not have had the opening to the 2018 college season that they’d have hoped. After losing a home shoot-out to Hawaii, the Rams took a beating at the hands of Colorado before upsetting the Arkansas Razorbacks last weekend. One silver lining for this Rams team, despite the 1-2 start? How about 6-foot-4, 209 pound transfer Preston Williams?

The former 4-star recruit is playing his first season with the Rams after playing at Tennessee in 2015 and 2016.

Williams big body, athletic ability and natural talent with the ball in his hands has been on full display through three games. Williams’ stat sheet to open the season?

  • Hawaii – 9 receptions, 188 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • Colorado – 6 receptions, 49 yards
  • Arkansas – 12 receptions, 154 yards, 2 touchdowns

Not bad. Not bad at all. So what’s the deal? Is Williams just another miscast Butch Jones recruit who will go on to see waves of success elsewhere?

Maybe, but if studying the tape of Preston Williams’ first three games is any clue, he’s not quite there yet.

It makes Williams’ big start all the more impressive, considering just how rough around the edges he still is. It’s the little things in Williams’ game that can frustrating, the types of reps taken for granted until experience is allocated.

Take this play against Arkansas from last week’s contest as an example.

Stating the obvious here, there needs to be an earlier adjustment on the football to prevent the turnover. Digging deeper, what would that look like?

The first angle of the play illustrates Williams’ predicament. He’s stacked his defender and as he checks up the field, he sees a scraping safety that flashes late after the corner has adjusted to the football.

As soon as Williams identifies that Safety, it should be apparent that his quarterback, KJ Carta-Samuels can’t possibly be throwing him into that contact. Make no mistake: the throw is still poor. And this adjustment is an extremely difficult one to make.

But in seeing the brilliant flashes of body control Williams has put on display through the first three weeks, it’s one we should expect him to be better at.

This was not a good address of the football in the air, nor has it been his only misread through the first several games. But for every bad rep, there’s one equally as good.

This is the kind of play that gets the needle moving. The throw and the leverage are more aligned here, offering a great look at what size and hand strength can provide at the catch point. This game will be valuable tape for Williams, as showing he can win with physicality against SEC competition will be a core piece of his film assessment.Preston Williams still has another year of eligibility, so his development into the finer points of the position should not be considered do-or-die for his future prospects.

As he currently stands, Williams is a volume pass catcher who will undoubtedly put up big numbers in this offense. It’s important not to let those figures skew his skills and create an unfair expectation for his play. It’s the little things that Williams needs to improve upon: not extending his arms on a slant/flat concept to avoid offensive pass interference (Hawaii). Being more aggressive addressing the football in the air (all three contests). Playing with more balance through contact and getting off of press coverage with more quickness.

Should Preston Williams begin to show these things by the end of the 2018 season, he’s a name to watch.

In the meantime, be sure to enjoy seeing Williams posterize Mountain West cornerbacks with splash plays all fall. The rest will hopefully come with time. After sitting out all of 2017 due to transfer guidelines, Williams has no rush to be the perfect receiver…yet.