CLEMSON — One deep-threat wide receiver is back in uniform. Another will have to settle for street clothes to continue his team-imposed punishment.
As College Football Playoff national runner-up Clemson opened spring practice Monday afternoon, head coach Dabo Swinney declared Mike Williams healthy and cleared for all team activities while announcing Deon Cain will be on the sideline this spring as a result of multiple transgressions last season.
Williams was a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference receiver in 2014 and caught a touchdown pass on the first drive of what would amount to Clemson’s first 14-win season in school history in 2015. However, in the process of making that catch, Williams broke a bone in his neck when he hit the goal post. He missed the rest of the season.
Williams will wear a green, non-contact jersey throughout spring, disallowing teammates from tackling him, but otherwise Williams will be part of all workouts, individual drills and team non-contact sessions as he seeks to replace Charone Peake in the Tigers’ starting lineup.
Williams’ sophomore season was highly productive. His 1,030 yards ranked fourth in the ACC, while his 57 catches and six touchdowns were second behind Artavis Scott. Both Williams and Scott have two years of eligibility remaining, the same as quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Meanwhile, Cain is attending all team meetings and is scheduled to be present at team practices. But Swinney will not permit Cain to practice, as Cain was suspended for the Oct. 24 game at Miami for “an attitude adjustment” and was sent home from the Orange Bowl for failing a drug test.
“We’ve removed that competitive piece of football, because I really don’t need to see him run a comeback. I’m not worried about the football side of Deon Cain,” Swinney said. “The football side of Deon Cain is going to be special if I can get him dialed in on things that are more important. I don’t want him to get distracted. I want him to stay focused on what he’s doing and fulfill his obligation to this university and to this football program.
“If he continues to do those things – and I like his attitude, everything is positive – then he’ll be full-speed ahead when we get back going in camp this fall.”
Cain caught 34 passes for 582 yards and five touchdowns in 2015. The yards were second-most among ACC rookies.
Swinney also announced Korrin Wiggins (torn ACL) will be extremely limited for the next six weeks of practices leading up to the spring game April 9 at Memorial Stadium. Wiggins, who was the starting nickelback in 2014, was injured in August. His 34 tackles were second-most that season among Tigers still with the team behind linebacker Ben Boulware.