USC football progress report: Max Williams showed promise in redshirt year

Max Williams redshirted in 2019, but still showed immense promise for USC football. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
Max Williams redshirted in 2019, but still showed immense promise for USC football. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

USC football saw only four games from Max Williams in 2019, but they were promising.

The USC football recruiting class of 2019 featured six defensive back additions. The highest-ranked among them was Max Williams.

The Serra-product is hoping to be the next in a long line of successful Trojans from that high school pipeline.

Williams is the latest player Reign of Troy is checking in on ahead of the 2020 season.

USC football progress report on Max Williams

What USC got as a recruit:

There was quite a bit of disagreement on Williams’ rating as a prospect. The 247Sports composite listed him No. 186 nationally and 23rd in California. He was 21st among cornerbacks.

However, the 247Sports independent rankings set him well below those marks. They had him No. 450 nationally, No. 66 in California and 46th among cornerbacks. He was a three-star prospect.

Rivals was much more favorable to Williams. They ranked him 147th nationally, 23rd in California and 14th at cornerback.

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ESPN also recognized Williams as a four-star recruit, putting him 183rd nationally, 23rd in California and 16th at cornerback.

The discrepancy could be linked to a couple of factors. The DB was decidedly undersized at 5-foot-8. He also suffered a season-ending knee injury during the first game of his senior campaign.

What he’s accomplished:

Williams was an early enrollee at USC, but his spring arrival was largely spent rehabbing from his high school knee injury.

He wasn’t available to play until two games into the season at which point he emerged as a promising freshman contributor. He started against Washington and Arizona, making impact plays like a sack and a forced fumble.

After playing four games, Williams’ redshirt was ensured when he suffered an ankle sprain against Oregon.

What to expect in 2020:

The Trojans return every starter from the 2019 secondary, including three starters for two jobs at cornerback, veteran nickelback Greg Johnson and both safeties. That will leave limited opportunities for Williams to latch onto a starting role as a redshirt freshman.

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However, new cornerbacks coach Donte Williams could certainly take advantage of his super-high football IQ and find a place for him in the rotation. If injuries come into play, Williams could be first in line for an opportunity, most likely at nickelback.

The issue of his size may always make him an underdog, but Nickell Robey-Coleman is proof of what a short-but-tenacious defender can accomplish.

The one thing we can be certain of? Williams will be rocking a new jersey number in 2020. He’s making the switch from No. 24 to No. 4.

Where he goes from here:

Williams may have to wait a little while to become a featured player in the defense since Johnson still has two years of eligibility remaining as the presumptive nickelback starter. Still, he looks like the heir apparent for that role.

When the time comes, he isn’t likely to be a major NFL prospect. Afterall, Robey-Coleman didn’t get drafted coming out of USC. He was forced to fight for a place on the Bills roster as an undrafted free agent before establishing his career.

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