- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Jafar Williams has size, speed and moves that can dazzle. He has a knack for getting open and being in position to make game-changing plays. The problem? Once he breaks free, he often lets down his Maryland teammates by dropping the ball.
"I used to have great hands, but somehow something happened," Williams said. "I got lackadaisical with it. I needed to focus on catching the ball now. I start thinking about running it first instead of catching it first. It's getting lazy and not focusing."
The Terrapins' leading receiver is known more for his failure to catch the ball than his successful grabs. For example, he had five catches against Notre Dame but also three drops, including two that would have been at least first downs and could have changed momentum in the 22-0 loss. And one of the defining moments of his career came last season at Florida State when he broke free late in the game for an apparent touchdown only to have the ball bounce off his facemask and fall incomplete.
The fourth-year junior is an enigma. Terps coach Ralph Friedgen said Williams has the potential to be All-ACC, but that "potential" almost seems to be a curse. In yesterday's practice, receivers coach James Franklin became enraged after a failed play and was screaming, "Make the play."
"I'm kind of sick of talking about Jafar's potential," Franklin said last week. "He's been here long enough that it needs to happen. There are not too many guys in the country that are 6-foot-2, 215 pounds that run a 4.52 with a 360-pound bench press and a 41-inch vertical jump. He's got everything you need. He needs to do it."
The Terps are hoping this is the week that Williams, a former high school track star, lives up to that "potential" with No. 5 Florida State coming to Byrd Stadium, especially since Maryland doesn't have a proven quarterback or tailback. The Seminoles (2-0, 1-0 ACC) are 14-point favorites even though the Terps won the ACC last season and ended Florida State's nine-year conference reign.
For Maryland (1-1, 0-0) to stay close, Williams and the receiving corps will need to turn short passes into long gains and stretch the field. The Seminoles, who have won all 12 meetings with the Terps, tend to stack the line to stop the run, daring opponents to pass.
"You go back and look at the teams that have beat Florida State, and there have always been plays out of the wide receivers," Friedgen said. "They're the people that are one-on-one [in coverage]. Traditionally, they have great corners, so they can take those wideouts out of the game. If your wideouts can make some big plays, it will really enhance your chances."
Williams, who missed spring practice because of academics, had five catches for 68 yards against Notre Dame and one reception for 46 yards against Akron despite a sprained left shoulder. The Philadelphia native was the team's third-leading receiver last season with 39 catches for 425 yards and two touchdowns, including a 64-yard touchdown reception against Florida in the Orange Bowl.
This is supposed to be the year Williams assumes his role as top receiver; last season's leading receiver, Guilian Gary, completed his eligibility. Maryland is also without its second-leading receiver tailback Bruce Perry hasn't played because of a torn groin and is not expected to return for another week. However, Perry has practiced since Monday in limited capacity.
Thus far, Williams has had flashes of brilliance tempered by deflating drops. Still, he feels he has improved since last season and has become a mentor to less experienced receivers like Latrez Harrison.
"My routes are much better than they were last year," Williams said. "I just have to focus on the little things and I'll be fine. My role is to make plays. I didn't do that too well in the Notre Dame game. I'm just going to make the plays, and everybody will be happy."

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