Ayden Williams fought through a season-long injury but was a 'sponge' his first year at Ole Miss

11by:Jake Thompson04/09/24


Suntarine Perkins was the crown jewel of last years recruiting class on defense. But on offense the equal to Perkins for Ole Miss was Ayden Williams.

The 1B to Perskins’ 1A, or flip it around if so inclined, Williams was set to make a splash in the Rebels wide receivers room his first fall in Oxford. Sadly, a strong showing in fall camp led to a disappointing freshman season.

Not all of it was in Williams control, though. Sometime during the 2023 campaign he suffered a groin injury that nagged at him through the Peach Bowl.

Once the winter offseason hit Williams got it taken care of a small procedure and has been working his way back slowly through spring practice.

“I had surgery shortly after the season. So really I was just focusing on recovering and learning the playbook better and getting a better understanding on the game,” Williams said on Tuesday.

Williams, like several of his Ole Miss teammates, has taken it easy this spring in an attempt to get to 100 percent for the summer workouts and camp to get started in August. Over the four weeks he has been getting involved more and more but still wearing the black non-contact jersey.

On Tuesday Williams appeared to be close to his healthy self, running routes at near full-speed during the viewing period media had in the penultimate practice of spring.

“I’m back now. I just got back to doing team stuff and 7-on-7,” Williams added. “I’m working my way back to everything. It’s been a good transition with (new wide receivers) coach (Greg) McDonald. He’s keeping me updated on everything. I’ve been watching all the plays, still learning all the plays. Just getting back to it.”

Williams first season at Ole Miss was one filled with sitting under the learning tree, soaking up as much as he could.

In 2023 Williams was eight on the team in receiving with four catches for 80 yards and zero touchdowns in 11 games. All of those stats were recorded in the first three games of the season.

From there it became a struggle but watching Tre Harris, Jordan Watkins and Dayton Wade lead the room it was still a productive first season in the Southeastern Conference for Williams. Two of those three are back for the 2024 season providing even more guidance.

“Shout out to them guys. D-Wade, Tre, all them guys,” Williams said. “I really was just trying to be a sponge, up under them at practice just trying to see what certain releases they do. What they do to get open. They really taught me a lot my first year. Especially D-Wade. We had talks a lot. I’d even go to his house. We’d watch film, do stuff like that. He taught me a lot.”

When the season ended the transfer portal opened up, but Williams and Cayden Lee — or ‘Honeycomb’ — chose to stay firmly with Ole Miss.

Neither dipped their toe in the portal and remained despite Harris and Watkins returning and Juice Wells transferring in from South Carolina.

“Stuff we learn in here, it’s really like the NFL,” Williams said. “So, when guys coming in it’s going to be like that when we get to the next level. As long as we stay here and learn everything we need to do. Compete here. When we get to the next level it’s going to be like no problem. Guys coming in and out, they’re not worrying me.”

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