Catching Up with Damian Williams

USC wide receiver Damian Williams is poised to have a breakout year in '08 after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. Williams talked with SCPlaybook about his transition from the SEC to the Pac-10, his goals and expectations for 2008 and USC's quarterback competition.

Q: Last year you weren't able to play because of NCAA transfer rules but you really opened a lot of eyes with your performance on the scout team. What are your goals and expectations for the 2008 season?

A: Basically to get on the field. We have a lot of talented receivers so it is going to be a competition throughout all of spring ball and all this summer. We have been working hard during winter workouts and so it's just going to be a competition and everybody is battling. Hopefully, I can get a spot out there.

Q: How has your transition been from playing as a freshman for your hometown school (Arkansas) to now being out here on the west coast?

A: Right now it's good. At first it took a little adjusting. It's kind of hard just getting used to west coast life. It is a lot different being at home in the South. I think I have made the transition pretty well and the team has been real receptive of me so that has helped a lot, too. So now I am just part of the team.


Damian Williams makes the grab.
Q: You have been in the USC program for over a year now. How would you describe Pete Carroll as a head coach and how he runs the USC program?

A: One word to describe Coach Carroll's coaching style is just ‘success.' He has proven year after year for the last seven or eight years that he is the man. Usually people aren't really happy to go to practice and excited for practice but I think our team is excited for practice everyday. We are ready and get up to go compete and he runs each day based on competition and that is what it is all about.

Q: USC has a lot of very talented receivers on the roster. How do you see yourself fitting into the rotation?

A: I am just going to try and be an all-around guy and try and fit in wherever they need me to play. I will learn the playbook and try and learn all three positions so hopefully wherever the gap is they will throw me in there. Eventually maybe I will make it to a starting spot. That's what we are all out here for, to try and make that starting spot.

Q: How would you describe your style as a wide receiver and what would you say is the strength of your game?

A: I like to be pretty well-rounded. I am pretty intelligent so it's easier for me to pick up things like learning coverages and stuff like that. Basically if you can read the coverages and you know what to do you will make it on the field at some point and then my athleticism can take over from there. I just basically try to get on the field and produce. That's all I ever try to do.

Q: Last year you could only participate on the practice field. How exciting is it for you to have the chance to compete for a starting spot in spring practice?

A: Man, that was a long year. Just sitting out for a year from something, anything that you love, even if it isn't a sport is tough. The guys got me through it and the coaches got me through it and now I am really hungry to play. I have been out for a year so I haven't got to do anything and now I kind of feel like it is my turn.


Williams races up field.
Q: You grew up playing with Mitch Mustain and now you have seen what Mark Sanchez is capable of. How would you compare them as quarterbacks?

A: They are kind of different. Mitch is real efficient, he is a general on the field and he's got a really big arm. At the same time Mark's got a really big arm. Mark is a playmaker and is a great captain on the field as well. They are similar in some ways and different in others and they are both great quarterbacks. The spring is going to tell, it is going to be a great competition.

Q: You have played in the SEC and now the Pac-10. How would you compare the two conferences and the different styles of play?

A: Coming from the SEC you are always just taught that the SEC is the best conference and nobody even compares but out here the Pac-10 is on the up and up. They have proven that the last couple of years. Of course the style of play is more west coast and run and gun type stuff out here, and the SEC, a lot of it is based on smash mouth football.

Q: When you decided to transfer from Arkansas you could have gone to pretty much any school you wanted. What was it about USC that stood out?

A: Coach Carroll is a good salesman; he is very good at what he does. He sold me a dream and so far I am living it. I can't complain. Everything they told me has come true so far.

Q: Last year USC's young wide receivers struggled at times and no one really stepped up to be the go-to guy. Do you think you can come in and assume that role?

A: We were really young last year and we really didn't have any guys that had a whole lot of experience. Basically we all know that we need to step up this year, and so like I said, that competition is going to be all of us competing to be that go-to guy.

Q: Lastly, what does being a Trojan mean to you?

A: Tradition. Tradition and competition, that's basically what this program was founded on and what it has been based on for years and we do it everyday. We are in the weight room, we are in the classroom and we are on the field just competing everyday. There is so much tradition at this school that is hard to not want to be a part of it.

Damian Williams goes up high to make the catch over Kevin Thomas.


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