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Mike Williams missed Bama-Clemson I with a broken neck. Then he contributed to a title.

The Tigers got a second shot at the Tide, this time at much fuller strength.

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NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
How a broken neck made Mike Williams even better

Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams helped give his school its second-ever national championship on Monday night, taking down the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide, pulling in eight catches for 94 yards, including this crucial high-point in the fourth quarter:


Williams almost had this opportunity taken away from him in seconds during his first game of the season last year.

“I always tell people that God never says, ‘Oops,’” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said via USA Today. “It was disappointing for him to sit and watch, but he’s a better player right now because ... he would have been a first-rounder last year, but it wasn’t God’s timing for him. I think he’s a lot better player than he would have been this time last year.”

In the Tigers’ season opener of 2015, the South Carolina native attempted to catch a pass in the end zone. He collided with the base of the goalpost, which fractured a vertebrae in his neck and sidelined him for the whole season. Prior to his injury, Williams had a high draft stock, and could have easily declared for the NFL draft with a successful 2015 season.

But his injury forced him to redshirt and take all of 2015 off. He was unable to help his team during Clemson’s 45-40 loss last year to Alabama. Amazingly, he got the opportunity on Monday night to do so.

In Williams’ first season back since his devastating injury, he’d had his best one yet, racking up over 1,267 yards and 10 touchdowns. This time, he wouldn’t be watching his team face Alabama from afar.

“I told the coaches I wanted that College Football Playoff experience and that National Championship experience,” Williams said via the Columbus-Dispatch. “To have my season end like that is very special.”

Williams may have missed an entire season, but he sure didn’t miss a beat during his incredible comeback. He led the Tigers in reception yards by a mile. Even better news for Clemson: he gave the offense a legitimate downfield threat, something Alabama had to account for and didn’t last time around. Here’s the wrinkle Williams gives Clemson’s offense:

The Clemson offense is very similar to what it was in 2015, with one notable exception: Mike Williams. While the Tigers were able to make hay against Bama’s linebackers and safeties in the middle of the field, they didn’t have someone like 6’3, 205-pound deep threat Williams to hit the outside.

Again, the perfect throw to a big target doesn’t have a great defense.

The comeback kid delivered again. He and the Tigers are national champs because of it.