It’s The Donte Williams Show — For Now

Five things you need to know about new USC interim coach Donte Williams

Thuc Nhi Nguyen (LA Times)  —  For the fourth time in the past eight years, an interim head coach will take the reins of USC’s football program.

Donte Williams was named USC’s latest interim head coach Monday after Clay Helton was fired following an embarrassing loss to Stanford in the second game of the season. Williams will lead the Trojans through at least the final 10 games of the regular season.

“Donte is an experienced and well-respected coach who is renowned for his ability to develop relationships with student-athletes, and I appreciate his willingness to take on this challenge,” athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement.

Here’s what to know about the new man in charge at USC:

He’s made an immediate impact at USC

The 39-year-old Williams joined the Trojans staff in February 2020 as the cornerbacks coach and defensive pass game coordinator and added the associate head coach title less than a year later. In 2020, he led a USC secondary that gave up 216.3 passing yards a game, its fewest since 2013. That average ranked 43rd in the country, an improvement from 96th the year before.

He’s a recruiting ace

In addition to his work on the field, Williams has earned a reputation as a top recruiter. For the class of 2021, he helped USC jump 50 spots in the national recruiting rankings and was credited as the primary recruiter for five-star prospect Korey Foreman. The defensive lineman was the No. 2 recruit in the nation and top prospect at his position.

While at Oregon, where he coached cornerbacks for two seasons before coming to USC, he was 247Sports’ top recruiter in the Pac-12 for the class of 2020 and the seventh-best in the nation. He lured such top Southern California talent as five-star linebacker Justin Flowe (Upland High) and Lancaster’s Mykael Wright to the Ducks, who have had the Pac-12’s top-rated recruiting class for three straight years, according to 247Sports.

He has history with previous USC head coaches

Former USC coaches Pete Carroll and Steve Sarkisian played early roles in Williams’ coaching career.

Williams, who started coaching in 2007 at L.A. Harbor College, was a graduate assistant under Sarkisian at Washington in 2010 and ’11 and worked as a summer coaching intern for the Seattle Seahawks in 2012. Carroll was in his third year as the Seahawks head coach and Williams used the experience to get his first full-time assistant job at the Division I level the following season when he joined San Jose State.

His other college coaching stops include Arizona (cornerbacks in 2016), Nebraska (cornerbacks, nicklebacks, and dimebacks in 2017) and Oregon. He has never held a coordinator position.

He’s back home

As a player, Williams was a team captain and two-time defensive most valuable player at Culver City High, less than three miles away from the Coliseum. He continued his football career at Pasadena City College as a defensive back in 2002 before transferring to Syracuse, where he played one season that included five games and one tackle. He came back west to play for Idaho State, where he was an All-Big Sky first-team defensive back.

He’s the first Black head coach in USC football history

Even with the interim tag still attached, Williams will make history as the first Black head coach in USC’s storied football history. He is the fifth Black head coach in the Pac-12 this year, joining Stanford’s David Shaw, Arizona State’s Herm Edwards, Washington’s Jimmy Lake and Colorado’s Karl Dorrell.

latimes.com

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TrojanMPA90
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TrojanMPA90 (@trojanmpa90)
September 14, 2021 9:25 am

The only way Donte Williams gets the permanent job is winning the Pac-12 championship and getting us to the CFP. He does that ala what Steve Fischer did at Michigan and the job is his.

RialtoTrojan
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RialtoTrojan (@rialtotrojan)
September 13, 2021 7:54 pm

I remember when Ed Orgeron took over the team. It was as if a switch was thrown. The players loved him and he got a lot of mileage out of his team. But then Haden turned his back on him. I hope this doesn’t play out again. I want Donte to succeed, but I don’t know if he’s ready to take the reins full time.
For now give him respect and support and see how it plays out.

Jalenbuck1
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Jalenbuck1 (@jalenbuck1)
September 13, 2021 6:30 pm

It will be interesting to see how the team looks this coming week! Maybe Nick Saban will renew Helton’s career. If not I can see him joining Tyson at Western Kentucky

Last edited 5 days ago by Jalenbuck1
RialtoTrojan
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RialtoTrojan (@rialtotrojan)
September 13, 2021 7:47 pm
Reply to  Jalenbuck1

I’m thinking Helton can get a job as a writer in a fortune cookie plant. He has enough platitudes to last him years.

Jalenbuck1
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Jalenbuck1 (@jalenbuck1)
September 15, 2021 7:59 pm
Reply to  RialtoTrojan

exactly, but we felt that way after Kiffin was fired and when Sark was removed but each went to Bama Saban helped them.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
September 13, 2021 5:33 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

If we are this jacked about Saturday, think how the players feel. The substitute teacher is gone, time to get down to business. Helton should feel blessed being in the right place at the right time and a perfect storm of events allowed him to stay much longer than he should have. He should have a nice financial nest egg and can do what ever he wants with the rest of his life. USC is a $5billion annually institution, they can afford it.

illinoisusc
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illinoisusc (@illinoisusc)
September 13, 2021 6:12 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Nothing against Clay at all…..heck…..if offered the chance to do something for 50 million guaranteed…..what would most say. Nah, I’am no good at it.

Steveg
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Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
September 13, 2021 6:13 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I am feeling the same way, Helton did good his first three years, but that should have been the end then. It was evident at that time he was not qualified, but he brought some calmness after the storms from Kiffen and Sark. Best of luck to him, I feel only regret he didn’t have the character to resign for the good of the program 3 years ago.

UtahTrojan
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UtahTrojan (@utahtrojan)
September 14, 2021 12:18 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I’m with you Allen. Clay who?

Chris
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Chris (@chris)
September 13, 2021 4:58 pm

He deserves this shot. I think he can help repair and establish a better culture immediately. Good for him.

illinoisusc
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illinoisusc (@illinoisusc)
September 13, 2021 4:33 pm

As long as he is until the end of the year ok…..after the way the db’s played we definitely need to clean house. The entire house.