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Williams Enters Playoff in Spotlight

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Williams will be one of the most important players in the upcoming Cotton Bowl Classic and, with a win, the national championship game, too

Fresh off seven receptions for 184 yards and two touchdowns in the SEC Championship Game victory over top-ranked Georgia, Alabama receiver Jameson Williams will enter the College Football Playoff directly in the spotlight. It's there where he has often been at his best. 

Williams will be one of the most important players in the upcoming Cotton Bowl Classic and, with a win, the national championship game, too. Expect Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young to look for Williams early and often against Cincinnati on New Year's Eve. The SEC's leading receiver by nearly 270 yards, his production will now be even more important with star John Metchie III missing the rest of the season due to injury. Notably, Williams has at least 120 yards in five of Alabama's last six contests.

Few, ever, have been more productive.

In one year with the Crimson Tide, Williams has had two seasons for the history books. He, narrowly edging out LSU great Ja'Marr Chase, is the only receiver this millennium with at least 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns at over 21.2 yards per catch in a single season. Williams is also one of just two SEC specialists with two kickoff returns for score and an average of over 35 yards per attempt in a single season over that same span. Combine the two together and college football simply hasn't seen many playmakers quite like Williams. When he has taken the field, he has often made history.  

The end result is Williams leading the nation with 22.6 all-purpose yards per play

Against Georgia in Atlanta, it was Williams who started the Alabama rally with a 67-yard touchdown when the Crimson Tide were down 10-0 early. He later doubled the Alabama lead with a 55-yard score on the Crimson Tide's first drive of the third quarter. Such an SEC Championship Game showcase was a continuation for Williams, who went for 190 yards and three touchdowns versus Arkansas, 158 yards and three scores against New Mexico State, 160 yards and a touchdown against LSU and 146 yards and two scores at Texas A&M.

Then there was what Williams did against Southern Miss: 258 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns on four touches. He promptly opened the game with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, added an 81-yard touchdown catch, then took another kickoff back 83 yards for a score. That is what Williams is capable of.

Looking ahead to Cincinnati, the Bearcats boast one of the best defensive backfields in all of college football, including the game's top cornerback tandem. Cincinnati leads the nation with an opponent passer rating of 100.47 and ranks second in allowing just 168.3 passing yards per game. Cornerback Coby Bryant just won the Thorpe Award and cornerback Ahmad Gardner is a projected first round NFL Draft pick; they have combined for 20 passes defended with six interceptions. Overall, the Bearcats are third in the country with 18 combined picks.

There is no replacing Metchie, injured against Georgia, a 2,000-yard receiver at Alabama who is the SEC's current leader with 96 catches this season. With him out, Young and the Crimson Tide will have to have other playmakers step up. Metchie's injury will also likely result in even more of a workload for Williams. Facing one of the top defenses in all of college football, without Metchie also on the outside, awaits as quite the task for Williams. His enters the Cotton Bowl with generational momentum. 

So far, Williams has taken on every challenge and sprinted right by.     

Williams has been an all-time big-play option. He, in some ways, might now be the most important player in the field and on the field as the College Football Playoff begins.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports