2021 Interim Head Coach for USC football, Donte Williams, was the only coach retained by new USC Head Coach Lincoln Riley.
Williams will be the Defensive Backs Coach and Defensive Passing Game Coordinator, which is a great spot for him. Many forget how good of a cornerbacks coach he was at USC in 2020--his first season here. The corners performed way better at his time here when he was directly working with them, as opposed to when he had to switch his focus to be the head coach of the whole team.
Arguably the No. 1 reason, however, that people infer he was brought back for was his ability as a recruiter. He was Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year in back-to-back seasons. He really turned USC around--helping them go from the 63rd class in 2020 to the seventh in 2021.
Williams was recently named Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year once again on February 5th, making it a third consecutive year where he won the award.
Lincoln Riley made the right call by keeping Donte Williams with USC football.
Lincoln Riley clearly wanted Donte Williams' recruiting prowess at USC football. After all, what if Williams was allowed to walk and then a rival like Oregon picked him up? That would be SC losing their best recruiter, and then a rival gaining an elite guy; it would be two blows in just one punch.
Williams has been directly credited by many recruits as to why they chose USC. It's especially honorable that Williams won this award with the situation he was in. He was thrown into a job he did not sign up for, and an awful situation for a program that almost completely butchered the recruiting class that he had largely built up in the offseason.
Despite USC having arguably their worst year in history, he remained as respected of a recruiter as he's always been. And just to be clear, SC did not have arguably their worst year in history due to him. He didn't do the best job as a head coach, but he should have never been put in that position in the first place.
It was a result of poor hiring practices dating back to the days of Pat Haden as the Athletic Director. There should have been no expectations placed on a first-year head coach in Donte. No interim should be thrown in two games into a year and be expected to contend.
Williams finishing as the No. 14 recruiter in the nation despite the awful situation he was placed in speaks for itself. He was credited to four total commits on a high school class that was purposefully light.
Moving forward, you can continue to expect big things from him. The program he coaches for is of course in a much better and more stable spot, and he's already been credited to a 2023 commitment.
The only two coaches in the Pac-12 who are listed ahead of him for 2023 are USC's own Riley and Dennis Simmons--pretty tough competition. Williams is still ranked in the top 20 in the country.
SC is off to an outstanding start in the 2023 recruiting process, placing in the top ten with THREE five-star commits already (all recruiting rankings and ratings in article are as of 247Sports). Expect this momentum to continue with Williams still in the fold.