USC has begun preparing for the Holiday Bowl at the end of the month, but Trojans defensive lineman Leonard Williams has something else on his mind.
Williams, a junior, has been one of the top defensive linemen in the country the past three years and soon will enter the NFL draft process. Whether that will be in 2015 or 2016 is still in the air, but he is clearly giving it some thought with the deadline to declare just over a month away.
"I'm thinking about it all the time, more and more," Williams told the LA Times. "(Coach Steve Sarkisian) said ultimately that the decision is mine, and we talked about how he could help me through the process."
At 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, Williams has played defensive tackle and defensive end the past few seasons for the Trojans. His ability, even at less than full strength, to occupy multiple gaps or rush the passer will be highly coveted at the next level whenever he decides to leave Los Angeles. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah even thinks Williams is similar to former All-Pro Richard Seymour coming out of college.
Other NFL scouts agree with such an assessement, with one recently saying Williams is the "real deal." He is second on the team in sacks, tackles and interceptions, an impressive accomplishment, considering where he lines up on the field.
There are a number of factors that could keep Williams at USC, however, including the fact that he's never defeated crosstown rival UCLA nor won a championship with the team.
"It would be hard to leave these guys," Williams said of his teammates. "And never being able to beat UCLA and just being able to come back and fight for a national championship and Pac-12 championship."
No. 24 USC will close out its season Dec. 27 in the Holiday Bowl against Nebraska. Whether that ends up being Williams's final game in the cardinal and gold remains to be seen, but it's something that is clearly on his mind going in.