"Last night I dismissed Duke Williams from our team," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said during his media availability on Tuesday. "I gave him a chance to prove himself, and I'm disappointed it didn't work out. Our team will be fine. We will move on."
Malzahn said that Williams will not remain in school following his dismissal.
"Any time you have to make a tough call and dismiss a player, it's not easy," Malzahn said Tuesday. "At the same time, this is a team sport, and you're always going to think about the team first. You give people chances, you give opportunities for people to prove themselves, and the bottom line [is they] didn't. It's not easy, and it shouldn't be easy for a coach, but you've got to do what's best for your team."
Williams arrived at Auburn in January 2014 as the nation's No. 1 junior-college recruit.
He was among the SEC's best receivers last season and contemplated leaving early for the NFL draft after recording 45 catches for 710 yards and five touchdowns despite playing in only 10 games.
It's been a tumultuous road ever since.
First, Williams was suspended for Auburn's bowl game, the Outback Bowl. Then in August he was suspended again during fall camp following an undisclosed "discipline issue."
Williams suited up for the season opener against Louisville but has struggled to regain his form from a year ago. Through five games, he had just 12 catches for 147 yards and one touchdown.
Cornerback Jonathan Jones said the team is trying to stay positive.
"You want to try to keep all distractions out of the way and try to stay positive as a team," Jones said. "[Losing Williams] was unfortunate, but as a team we got to come together and continue on. We still have the season to continue, continue these games and finish out and play."
Malzahn said that Williams had changed during his time with Auburn.
"I've seen him grow as a person when he was here, and I think this place was good for him," Malzahn said. "We wish him nothing but the best for the future."
"This is a team, and this is a strong team," Malzahn said. "We've got good leaders moving forward. There was great energy in practice today, and the guys responded extremely well. And I feel like we got better."
The Tigers are off this week but will travel to Kentucky on Oct. 15.