AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — D'haquille "Duke" Williams felt the love from Auburn fans after his first big catch.
The chants of "Duke" cascaded from the stands for the junior college transfer who turned in a sensational debut with the sixth-ranked Tigers in Saturday's 45-21 win over Arkansas and got louder as the game went on.
"It just made me feel like they love me," Williams said. "I never thought I'd have a chant like that. When they chanted that, I caught the chills. My heart just started beating faster. I'm just like, there's no way 90,000 just chanted my name. I ran to the sidelines and just had to take a seat, put a towel on my head and start thinking, 'It's really here. Everything I worked for.'"
The nation's top-ranked junior college prospect lived up to his billing, and then some, in his first game. He was targeted nine times, and that resulted in nine catches for 154 yards and a touchdown. It was the most yards by an Auburn receiver since Darvin Adams gained 217 in the 2010 Southeastern Conference championship game.
"This would have to be the best feeling of my life," Williams said. "When I was at the Iron Bowl last year, I was just like, 'I can't wait 'til January.' And when January got here, I practiced during the spring and summer. When I walked in front of that crowd, I just got the jitters."
The performance also gave an indication that the Tigers can have a more potent passing game this season, with Williams pairing up with fellow receivers Sammie Coates and Ricardo Louis.
Williams did most of his damage across the middle, and eight of the receptions came from Jeremy Johnson, who played the first half with starting quarterback Nick Marshall suspended.
"Coach wanted to put me in the slot to create mismatches with the safety or linebacker," he said. "That's going to be hard on them."
Auburn relied more on the running game in the second half, limiting Williams' opportunities.