Junior wide receiver Mike Williams, who left the Syracuse program three weeks ago, has informed school officials that he will not return next season, and will enter the NFL draft in April 2010 as an underclassman, sources told ESPN.com.
One of the first underclass prospects this season to bypass his remaining eligibility and declare his intention to turn pro, Williams is expected to be one of the top wide receivers in the talent pool. Although there remains considerable work to be done in evaluating draft candidates over the next several months, two NFL college scouts told ESPN.com on Sunday morning that Williams is a highly regarded prospect.
Williams quit the Syracuse football team earlier this month. Williams was on the verge of another suspension when he quit the team, a person close to the program told ESPN's Joe Schad.
According to a report in the Syracuse Post-Standard, Williams was in a vehicle with teammates Torrey Ball, Antwon Bailey and Andrew Tiller when it was rear-ended by a tractor trailer.
Syracuse coach Doug Marrone told Williams that he could be suspended again and the receiver said he'd rather quit, the source said.
Williams, 22, played in seven games this season and registered 49 catches for 746 yards and six touchdowns.
Blessed with prototype size (6-feet-2, 210 pounds) and speed (estimated 4.4-second 40-yard dash), Williams is well-suited, the scouts said, for the NFL game. Citing the league's confidentiality guidelines, and the fact Williams has yet to formally apply for the 2010 draft, the scouts declined to speak for attribution.
In 31 career games, Williams had 133 receptions for 2,044 yards and 20 touchdowns. In 2007, he established a school record by posting touchdown receptions in nine straight games. He had career bests that season in receptions (60), yards (837), and touchdown catches (10).
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.