Leonard Williams leaving for the NFL

Leonard Williams said Monday it's time for the junior All-American defensive end to leave his USC family and join the family of USC alums in the NFL.

After meeting with Steve Sarkisian Monday, USC junior defensive lineman Leonard Williams, a two-time All-American, announced that he will be leaving school and making himself eligible for the NFL Draft. He's considered a certain Top 10 pick, probably the top defensive lineman selected and possibly as high as No. 1 overall.

Here is Leonard Williams' official statement:

"This was a very hard decision for me. I love USC, Coach Sark and the coaching staff, my teammates and the fans, and I love the game of college football. It's hard to leave all of that. I know life is never the same once you leave college.

"But I feel like it's the right time for me to go. I feel like I'm ready. I'm looking forward to the new challenge that the NFL presents.

"I had a great experience at USC and enjoyed all three of my years here. I was coached by outstanding coaches and I played with great teammates. I'm thankful to all of them, as well as to the support I got from the fans. I'm proud and happy to have been a part of the Trojan Family. I'll always be a Trojan. Now, I get to be part of the great tradition of USC alums in the NFL. I'm excited to see what's coming next for me."

Head coach Steve Sarkisian:

"We wish Leonard the best of luck. We know he will represent USC well in his professional career. He was a great player here for all three of his years. Just like all of our players, Leonard is a Trojan for life and we will always support him."


*** Williams finished as a two-time USC All-American first-teamer, the first Trojan defensive end to do so since Marlin McKeever in 1959-60.

*** Williams had 80 tackles in 2014 (second on USC), including 9.5 for losses with a team-high seven sacks.

*** He also had a team-high three forced fumbles this year, plus he had an interception, a fumble recovery and three pass deflections.

***In his three-year career, he 218 tackles, including 36.5 for losses with 21 sacks.

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