January 3, 2007

Trojans snag receiver

Freshman wide receiver Damian Williams played against the Trojans in the season opener for Arkansas, catching four balls for 62 yards.

But the 6-foot-1, 188-pound SEC All-Freshman selection was given his release from Arkansas last month and has now decided to join forces with the Men of Troy.

Williams finished the season with 19 receptions for 235 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but was disappointed in the direction of the Hawg's offense. This despite playing for former high school head coach and current Arkansas offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

Williams originally committed to Florida in 2006, but then de-committed in favor of the Razorbacks - joining Springdale High School teammates Mitch Mustian, Andrew Norman and Ben Cleveland at Arkansas.

Per NCAA rules, Williams will be forced to sit out a season and will be available to play in 2008 for USC. Because he played as a true freshman, Williams will practice with the team as a redshirt freshman.

Rivals.com's Mike Farrell originally broke the story on The Peristyle, which was then later confirmed confirmed by the Los Angeles Times this week.

Williams was listed as a four-star receiver by Rivals.com out of high school - ranked among the top-10 receivers in the country in 2006.

USCFootball.com Recruiting Analyst and Editor, Gerard Martinez, had the privilege of watching Williams play in high school during the NIKE 7-on-7 Passing League Championships at USC two years ago.

"The best word to describe Williams is smooth," said Martinez. "He glides through his routes and doesn't lose much speed on his breaks.

"During the NIKE passing tourney, Williams was probably the second best athlete on the field next to Oaks Christian safety Marshall Jones. That tournament also included Long Beach Poly, Valencia, Edison, Hart and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, so there's some pretty high praise.

"You could see Damian was clearly Mustain's go-to receiver, and despite playing against some very good competition, no one could really stop him."

While Williams' impact at USC won't be seen immediately on Saturdays, it will be felt on the practice field this spring.

"This is another good receiver USC's defense gets to see every day in practice," said Martinez. "You can't overlook the value of that as a coach."

Style wise, Martinez thinks Williams fits in well with USC's offensive scheme.

"He's a skinny post guy, and I think that's where Lane Kiffin wants to start throwing the ball more often," said Martinez. "Williams is a 4.50 40-yard dash guy with long arms and great leaping ability.

"Playaction doesn't work unless you've got wide receivers who can stretch the field. Williams is a guy that can stretch the field and find the crease in a cover-two defense.

"To put it in a recruiting perspective, he was rated No. 95 in the Rivals100 in 2006. This year, Williams would probably end up rated in the low 70s. He's a very good player and this is a weak year for receivers."

Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for more on the transfer of Williams to the Trojans.


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