June 23, 2008

Williams feeling great this summer

It's a Friday morning in June. The sun's hot, and the Trojan football team is working its way through a hellish workout.

Covered in sweat, the offense and the defense battle in drills led by quarterback Mark Sanchez.

One Trojan, Damian Williams, is on the sideline for a moment late in the workout.

He looks to his right, and spots a young fan walking near the sideline.

"I'm Damian," Williams said. "What's your name little man?"

Life, for Williams, is good.

The sophomore wide receiver is fresh from a redshirt transfer year, and he's hungry to get on the field. But first, he said, it's time to work.

"I'm feeling good. I understand the offense, and I'm moving around a lot, trying different ways to get onto the field," Williams said. "I'm healthy now, and I'm working hard in the weight room."

"We're out working hard, really. We're just trying to get ready for camp."

Even though the offense struggled during last Friday's seven-on-seven drills, Williams still managed to make the day's best catch - a leaping grab down the middle of the field in the middle of traffic.

Still, the catch wasn't enough.

The Trojan defense, it seems, isn't all that fun to work against.

"Honestly, sometimes it gets really frustrating. When you have guys that good, our timing has to be perfect," Williams said. "To be honest, we're a little rusty right now. We're just getting back into the swing with throwing and stuff like that."

And, the defense let Williams and his offensive teammates know that it had been dominant.

"They love to talk, especially on a day like today. They were making all the plays," he said. "It's hard when you have to compete and your timing isn't perfect and you're playing a defense that's one of the tops in the country."

Still, Williams said it's a taste of what's to come during the season, when USC brings out the best in each of its opponents.

"We always have one of the best defenses in the country, and that's a credit to the coaches and the athletes," Williams said. "But against us, teams always come after it.

"We have a bull's eye on our back."

With Sanchez leading the way, Williams is confident the offense will get to where it needs to be. The Trojan starting quarterback hasn't let his new role get to his head.

"I wouldn't say there's a difference in him. Mark's always been a leader, especially last year," Williams said. "He'd take the underclassmen under his wing and show us what we need to know."

Without stepping out onto the field on Saturday last season, Williams got a chance to study the other Trojan receivers.

Friday, using a Frankenstein approach, he built the perfect one.

Hands

"I'll say Garrett Green. I don't remember seeing him drop a pass."

Mouth

"If you want to talk a little trash, I'm going with Vidal Hazelton."

Speed

"Obviously, I want (Ronald Johnson's)."

Route Running

"Patrick Turner's the man."

Hair

"I'll take David Ausberry's afro all day."

Heart

"I got to say mine. If it's leadership and heart, I'd go with myself."

Despite never taken an official snap as a Trojan, it hasn't stopped Williams from stepping up.

"I was trying to lead by example. I was the new guy; it could be hard," he said. "Some guys learn by seeing, but with some guys, you just have to be vocal with. I've figured out which guys you have to push and be vocal with.

"Sometimes, I need people to pick me up too."

And with his former teammate from high school and college, quarterback Mitch Mustain, with him at USC, Williams knows there's always one place he can turn.

"It helps because a lot times, you just want someone from home, someone you've played with before," Williams said. "If all else fails and you're having a bad day, you can always go to them."


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