The Wisconsin Badgers came into the offseason with significant hype, primarily due to their offensive makeover that was led by the hiring of coordinator Phil Longo, as well as the addition of transfer quarterback Tanner Mordecai and a plethora of new receivers.
Of their four receiver transfers, the Badgers sought for a mix of good production and high-end potential, landing Bryson Green, who caught 36 passes for 584 yards in 2022, Will Pauling, who was expected to have a big role at head coach Luke Fickell’s former stop last season prior to an injury, C.J. Williams, who was a four-star recruit at USC in 2022, and Quincy Burroughs.
Green and Pauling have already found themselves in the starting rotation, while Williams and Burroughs are both in the two-deep.
Williams, however, may be starting to break out of his shell and emerging as a true receiving threat for the Badgers.
The wideout was heavily featured in Week 4, catching five passes for 56 yards on seven targets, which paced the Badgers on the evening.
Williams has slowly seen an uptick in snaps as the weeks have gone on, initially starting around 25 a game before increasing to 36 in Week 3 and 44 in Week 4, essentially taking part in the five-man rotation that the Badgers have implemented at receiver.
The talent around the 6’2, 210-pound receiver was undeniable in the offseason, but the question was more a matter of how quickly he could get acclimated and ready to play in the college environment.
Four weeks in, it’s safe to say he’s caught the eye of his head coach.
“CJ made some big plays tonight,” Fickell said following the game. “I mean, he made some catches and secured some balls on third down, he really showed up.”
Fickell especially pointed to Williams’s ability to move the chains in crucial situations, which was apparent on a few third downs on Friday night.
“I don’t know that there was the big long exotic catches or something. I think Chim(WR Chimere Dike) had one and we know that Bryson’s had a couple,” Fickell said. “But there are some really big across-the-middle throws and catches and him and Will both are, I mean, just a couple inches short of breaking that last tackle and turn those things into really big plays.”
Williams figures to continue playing as a key part of the rotation, and his breakout may be coming upon us as Big Ten play continues.