Leonard 'Just taking it all in'

No need to decide to hurry off to the NFL right now, Leonard Williams says, he's enjoying this time with his teammates. He'll have plenty of time to make the call when it comes to him.

Yes, Leonard Williams was saying after being named a second-team Walter Camp All-American this week, he "was disappointed."

"But not in anyone else, just in myself," Leonard said in typical self-deprecating fashion after Saturday's practice. If his numbers were down a bit, it wasn't the scheme or his team, just himself.

"I understand statistics are important," defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said, but . . . " But the double teams and teams having to account for him every play against a USC defense that didn't come up with other playmakers on the front line did slow him a bit.

Steve Sarkisian said he wished he'd had a clue about Leonard, then a freshman, the one time he coached against him at Washington, when Leonard separated the UW quarterback from the football on the 2-yard line to stifle the Huskies' comeback bid. "I wish I'd known more about him."

"He's a phenomenal player," Wilcox said, "and he's getting better . . . he's not close to being topped out . . . and he's a great teammate . . . a pretty special guy."

Indeed, as the draft boards that have him possibly going first overall make clear, should he decide to come out after his junior season.

"Everybody is asking me about that," he says, at home, at school, and right now, he has no answer. Just thoughts.

"It's never going to be the same," in the NFL as it has been at USC "and with these guys," Leonard says. "I'm factoring all that in."

He plans to talk to his family and to former USC players, mentioning Willie McGinest as one of those who've gone through this.

But if you're one of the agents or runners trying to contact him, better hold on. "I've got so many messages on my phone that I haven't answered," he says with a laugh. And he's not going to -- not right now.

Sure, he's been thinking about the NFL for a long time. "But definitely not the first round . . . I've always had dreams and goals and now I'm just taking it all in."

As to how or when exactly that will happen, Leonard says it'll happen like this: "Whenever my heart tells me," he says, "like when I decided to come to USC' as someone out of SEC country.

Calling on Cody 2


With nose tackle Antwaun Woods straining his pec Saturday, it meant one more chance for Cody Temple to step up and step in. That's much the way this season has gone, the first that hasn't seen him sidelined by injury.

"I'm sure Antwaun will be back but it's a window of opportunity for me to put more on tape for the coaches," says the 6-foot-2, 310-pound redshirt junior from Bakersfield whose increased game time has produced eight tackles, two for losses and a sack.

"I've been able to put in a lot of work this year," Temple says. "It's been great. This team has been working hard and it's physical getting ready for the bowl but it's also been a lot of fun. Yesterday in the rain was like a play day."

And yes, Cody plans to return next fall after a couple of big events this spring. He's going to get his degree and in his words, "I have a little Trojan, a little boy, on the way," says the proud papa-to-be. "Then I can get ready for the fall."

Hayes P. on Holiday Bowl opponent Nebraska


"It's a rivalry without being a rivalry," USC senior linebacker Hayes Pullard said of the matchup with Nebraska. "It's going to be a fun matchup."

Footnoted


The Trojans will practice at 8 a.m. Sunday, then take Monday and Tuesday off with a return Wednesday when Sark said the Trojans will do the first Nebraska gameplan installation . . . Leon McQuay III, out of his knee brace, was still in a yellow jersey and running back with the first team . . . Correction to Friday info: That wasn't tailback James Toland on crutches, it was fellow walkon, also No. 26, Davonte Nunnery, a safety from St. Bonaventure . . . Toland did miss Friday for exams but was back Saturday and running well . . . Both Sark and Wilcox mentioned how Josh Shaw is starting to work out the rust of missing three months of the regular season . . . Lots of players back at practice although not practicing including Chad Wheeler, Jordan Austin, Jordan Simmons, Jabari Ruffin and Kenny Bigelow, who has been here most days, all back one way or another from surgery . . . Back in pads and starting his prep for the winter and spring was senior linebacker Lamar Dawson . . . Also back from the recruiting trail was assistant Marques Tuiasosopo . . . Woods suffered his strained pec in a two-on-one drill going against an offensive double team . . . linebacker Uchenna Nwosu got taken down on a sweep and rolled his ankle and after getting iced down like Woods for his pec left the field on crutches allowing Olajuwon Tucker to move to outside some . . . really nice catches Saturday made by just about everybody: George Farmer, George Katrib, Steven Mitchell, Nelson Agholor and Bryce Dixon . . . Asked for a quick take on Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, Sark said the one thing that separates the Oregon quarterback is not his great arm, his accuracy, his poise, his smarts, his athleticism, all of which he has in abundance, it's this single thing that you must never forget: "He's the fastest guy on the field," Sark said. That makes him special.

For a wrapup of Friday morning's practice, check out SATURDAY HOLIDAY BOWL PRACTICE 5 GHOST NOTES.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


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