USC’s Leonard Williams Declares for the 2015 NFL Draft


Leonard Williams has played his last game as a USC Trojan. The junior defensive lineman announced today that he will declare for the 2015 NFL Draft, where he is widely projected to be a top five overall pick.

The early entry comes as no surprise, as Williams started getting draft buzz as early as last season. Currently, CBS Sports has him as the No. 2 overall pro prospect behind Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

More from Reign of Troy

On Saturday night after the Holiday Bowl, the Florida native told reporters that he had ‘likely’ worn the cardinal and gold for the last time but would need to talk to head coach Steve Sarkisian about it. That discussion has apparently taken place and he’s now set to begin training for February’s NFL Combine.

Here’s what Williams had to say in USC’s official release on The Ripsit Blog:

"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."

Williams came to USC as a four-star defensive end on Signing Day in 2012 and leaves as the Trojans’ first two-time All-American in 54 years.

He totaled 20 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss in three seasons, while capping off his career as the Holiday Bowl’s defensive MVP with a nine total tackles performance vs. Nebraska.

Aside from the honors Williams racked up in college, he may be most remembered for his gutty performance at Stanford back in September. Despite playing with a high ankle sprain that made him a game-time decision, he had a season-high 11 tackles and was a catalyst in limiting the Cardinal to their worst rushing performance vs. USC since 2007.

Williams also recorded four forced fumbles, a pair of interceptions and a punt block at USC. The Trojans will look to replace him internally with Claude Pelon and Delvon Simmons in 2015, along with Kenny Bigelow.