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Max Williams' devastating injury is a big blow to USC football's defense

Apr 7, 2021, 11:52 AM PDT
USC football DB Max Williams.
USC football DB Max Williams. | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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Up-and-coming nickelback Max Williams suffered a season-ending injury during USC football's Tuesday practice, which is a bigger blow to the Trojans than you might think.

The last thing anyone wanted to see during a USC football practice at the Coliseum on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon was a promising young player helped off the field with an injury.

The last thing anyone wanted to learn on Wednesday was confirmation said injury was a torn ACL.

Unfortunately, that's the reality for USC and defensive back Max Williams, as Williams' father confirmed on Twitter.

Williams may not have been a household name at this stage in his career, but he was on his way to becoming one. The nickleback took first team reps to start Spring Camp and was well within reach of pushing Greg Johnson for the starting job once the veteran returned from his own injury recovery.

While Johnson had the edge in experience, Williams started three games last year in his absence and showed a real proficiency for the position. Undersized as he is at 5-foot-9, the redshirt sophomore proved aggressive and instinctual.

The most troubling part of all this is Williams' injury history. He tore his ACL in high school and missed his senior season as a resut. He enrolled early at USC and spent most of the offseason ahead of his freshman season rehabbing.

Even then he showed serious potential when he started against Washington and Arizona.

How will USC football cope without Max Williams?

The good news here is Johnson is slated to return. He'll now have a clear road to start assuming he can stay healthy. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees on that front, especially since Johnson has missed games in each of his four previous seasons.

Williams' absence means USC will lack proven cover and competition for Johnson.

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Of course, this will open opportunities for others on the roster. Briton Allen took reps in place of Williams on Tuesday and likely has the most to gain in a direct sense.

The Trojans could also turn to any number of freshman additions. Anthony Beavers would be an intriguing option in that role as a spring enrollee, while Jaylin Smith will arrive in the fall with a chance to compete as well.

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