They are both wide receivers and share the school record for receptions, but they’ve reached that mark in different ways.
Danny Williams is tall, lean and smiles with a slight sense of frustration when asked if he likes the tag “possession receiver.” He has 104 receptions for 1,361 yards.
Albert Wilson is shorter, thicker and because of his speed, has never been described as anything but a game-breaker. Wilson also has 104 receptions, but his have gone for 2,013 yards, illustrating the difference in the 4.6 speed Williams has and the sub-4.3 speed Wilson has.
“There’s been a lot of change in the program,” said Wilson, who is 5-f00t-9 and weighs 200 pounds. “We are excited to play.”
Georgia State’s season could be determined by how well the duo performs this season. Though the Panthers likely will be a run-first offense to control the clock, if Wilson and Williams can’t unlock secondaries with precise routes and flytrap hands, opponents will put nine men close to the line of scrimmage, stifle the running game, and no one wants a 1-10 performance like last year’s again.
It’s a complex choreography, but Williams and Wilson are keen to do their part.
“We can’t run the ball every down,” Miles said. “We have to have guys who can be in the right place at the right time for the success off the offense.”
Like most things with the program with its new coach and new conference, this season is almost brand new for the two. They weren’t able to participate in most of the spring practices because of injuries. Williams suffered an ankle injury that affected him most of last season. He finished with 20 catches. He sat out the spring after shoulder surgery.
Wilson caught 48 passes in 2012 for coach Bill Curry’s squad. He came into the spring ready to learn offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski’s new scheme, but a hamstring injury prevented him from getting many reps.
“I’m excited about watching those two,” Miles said. “They’ve shown on film they can make plays. They have experience, which other than talent, nothing’s more important than experience. It’s important that they stay healthy.”
Both started camp healthy and hoped to use that good fortune and maturity gained in their first three seasons to finish their senior seasons with better memories. Both said last season was difficult because of the record — which dropped the team to 4-18 in its past two years — and because of the pending coaching change.
Wilson said he has learned how to become a football player. He arrived as a quarterback from Port St. Lucie, Fla., and didn’t know much about playing wide receiver.
“I was just running,” he said.
But he has learned his position. He said he knows how to run routes and how to set himself up to get open. He knows how to read defenses and watch film.
Williams (6-4, 210) said he, too, has learned the importance of film work. He said he didn’t study enough during Georgia State’s first year of practice because he didn’t know he was supposed to do. He credits former wide receivers coach George Pugh and current position coach Keary Colbert with teaching him what is required.
Williams and Wilson grew closer when they roomed together two summers ago. When they grew bored they would do push-up contests — Williams said he won most of them — or walk to Georgia State’s practice facility, turn on the passing machine and catch balls in the middle of the night.
They don’t room together now, but they still hang out. Wilson said Williams’ house near Turner Field is the “chill spot.”
Both said they are excited to play in this season’s offense, which Williams said features concepts, combinations and terminology that he’s never seen. Wilson said it is more of a “pro-style” offense with shorter routes.
Williams has thrived with those the past three years, leading to the “possession” tag that he said even his father uses now.
“I embrace it, but I wish sometimes people knew I had a little bit more,” he said. “I love catching a first down and getting hit. It’s almost better than catching a touchdown.”
It will be interesting to see how Wilson adapts because he thrived in the old offense, using his speed to blow by cornerbacks on deep routes and crossing routes. Wilson said he likes what the new offense will do. Williams said that Jagodzinski has inventive ways to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers.
They each have NFL dreams. They will rely on each other and continue to push through this season to make that dream happen.
“The receivers, we are all brothers, a big family,” Williams said. “We feel like we can lead the offense. We don’t put any pressure on ourselves. We know when we have to make plays we need to make them.”
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