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Damian Williams again is considering entering the NFL draft

Receiver will explore his professional prospects and might be playing in his last Coliseum game with the Trojans on Saturday.

December 01, 2009|By Gary Klein
  • Trojans receiver Damian Williams is brought down by UCLA cornerback Alterraun Verner after a reception in the fourth quarter Saturday.
Trojans receiver Damian Williams is brought down by UCLA cornerback Alterraun… (Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles…)

USC's regular-season finale against Arizona on Saturday will be the last Coliseum appearance for Trojans seniors.

It might also be receiver Damian Williams' final home game.

"I've kind been like, 'Wow. It could be,' " the fourth-year junior said Monday. "But right now, I'm just focusing on getting through the season. After the bowl game, we'll sit down and make some decisions."

Last January, Williams had considered making himself available for the NFL draft, especially after quarterback Mark Sanchez decided to turn professional.

But Williams returned and has been the Trojans' most dynamic player. He has caught 50 passes, six for touchdowns, and also has returned two punts for touchdowns.

Williams, though, has suffered several injuries, including a hamstring strain that slowed him against Oregon and a high-ankle sprain that sidelined him against Stanford.

So Williams, who will graduate this month, again will consider entering the draft.

"For me it's kind of like, 'This could be it. You've been hurt so you need to get out of there.' " Williams said. "And on the other hand, it's, 'You've been hurt. You could have hurt your stats and next year you could play better.' "

Regardless, Williams will once again seek a draft projection from the NFL.

"Right now it's 50-50, a toss-up," he said. "After I get the evaluation and more feedback I'll know more."

Most of the feedback Williams received over the weekend was in regard to his last-minute 48-yard touchdown catch that punctuated the Trojans' 28-7 victory over UCLA.

Quarterback Matt Barkley had taken a knee with 54 seconds left, indicating that USC was willing to run out the clock, but UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel countered by calling a timeout, one of three he had at his disposal.

Trojans Coach Pete Carroll answered by signing off on Barkley's bomb to Williams.

"A lot of people don't realize that when you're wide open and trying to catch a ball it's different," Williams said. "It's almost instinctive when you're in a crowd to think 'OK, focus, focus focus.'

"But when you're wide open, just running by yourself and waiting for a ball that's up there, it's actually really difficult to catch."

Mixed reaction

Carroll said he continued to get "a certain amount" of response in the wake of his decision to go for the long pass against the Bruins.

"I heard some papers did polls and things like that," he said, chuckling. "I don't know who would ever want to do that."

A poll on The Times website Sunday asked readers whether they agreed with Carroll's decision.

More than 15,000 had responded by 9 p.m. Monday, about evenly divided between those who considered it a bad move that showed poor sportsmanship and those who had no problem with the call and thought that Neuheisel asked for it when he called a timeout.

"You want to know how many times I voted?" Carroll said, chuckling. "It's a lot of work to keep it 50-50."

Weis reaction

Carroll said he felt for Charlie Weis, who was fired Monday by Notre Dame.

Carroll was 5-0 against Weis.

"I know how hard it is, I've been there before," said Carroll, who was fired after stints coaching the New York Jets and New England Patriots. "But it's a great program and their expectations are such that they're going to make moves when things aren't meeting up to their standards. It will be interesting to see what they do."

Carroll said he was not interested in coaching the Fighting Irish.

Quick hits

Tailback Joe McKnight did not practice because of a thigh bruise suffered against UCLA. . . . Receiver Garrett Green had an MRI exam on his right knee and said he expected that results would reveal a torn ligament that would require surgery.

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