This is somewhat old news, but I thought I would pass it along and give you my thoughts.
C.J. McWilliams, a 6th year graduate transfer from Florida, has been added to Purdue’s roster. McWilliams appeared in 8 games over his 5 year Florida career, and has 16 tackles and 4 passes defended on his resume, most coming in the 2018 season.
To say McWilliams’s career at Florida was tumultuous would be an understatement. The oft injured corner was talented enough to get on the field, which is no small accomplishment at Florida, but could never stay healthy enough to stay on the field.
Grantham on C.J. McWilliams: "He's a guy that quite honestly has always gotten hurt and not been able to finish. To the guy's credit, he's really busted his tail and worked hard."— Nick de la Torre (@delatorre) September 22, 2020
"He's really earned it (starting at Star/nickel).
He’s best known for his 2018 season in Gainesville, that saw him under siege on talk radio and message boards after coming on in relief for an injured starter against Georgia and getting ruthlessly picked on by Georgia in route to a Bulldog blowout victory.
To his credit, McWilliams was well regarded in the Gator locker room, and star tight end Kyle Pitts came to his defense in the press.
“C.J. is a guy that people kind of overlooked,” Pitts told the media. “I feel like, after that Georgia game everybody was just bashing him, but that’s not the real C.J. The real C.J. is how he’s playing now, 100 percent.”
McWilliams was slated to play a bigger role in the Gator defense in 2019 but ruptured his Achilles tendon before the season and missed the year.
Hopes were high in 2020 for McWilliams after he was named a surprise starter at the STAR/nickel position for UF. Then...something happened. He played the first 15 snaps of the game, came off the field, and never returned. It was later revealed that he opted out of the season after the game.
What It Means For Purdue
Guys, I’ve got no clue on this one. He basically hasn’t played in 2 seasons, and when he did play, the results weren’t exactly good. At the same time, he’s been with new secondary coach Ron English for several years, and I assume that’s why he’s at Purdue now. Coach English must like what he brings to the defense.
He’ll be a 1 year player for the Boilermakers, making him a low risk, high upside pick up. If he’s good, Purdue gets a boost in the secondary for a season. If he’s injured or struggles, it’s only a 1 year scholarship investment.
The the two potential downsides to this pick up is having 1 less available scholarship (still have no idea how many Purdue has available) for the transfer portal this season, and the potential for McWilliams to take time away from former Purdue recruits who have yet to see time on the field.
At some point, I’d like to see if guys like Kadin Smith, Nyles Beverly, and Anthony Romphf can play. That can obviously still happen, and those three will have plenty of time after this season to see the field, but I’m a little leery that the coaching staff thinks brining in a lightly used, 6th year senior with a long injury history is a better option than any of those 3. You don’t bring a grad transfer in if you don’t intend to play him, so I expect McWilliams to play a substantial role in the defense.
This is a “wait and see” type of pick up. I can see the upside (potential on field boost) and the downside (less time for guys already on the roster) and we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out on the field.
This is McWilliams last shot to show everyone what he’s got. That’s often a strong motivating factor for a player who obviously has some talent that he hasn’t been able to get onto the field for a variety of reasons.
I’m willing to give Coach English the benefit of the doubt on this one, and am cautiously optimistic on this addition to the roster.