Leonard Williams was born in Daytona Beach, Florida on June 20, 1994. A defensive lineman for the USC Trojans, he was a first team All-American selection in 2013 and was also named as the school's Defensive Lineman of the Year for that season.
During his youth, Williams played football at Mainland High School. As a senior, he was credited with 103 tackles in total, including 19.5 for a loss, with 10.5 sacks. He was subsequently named as an All-American by both Super Prep and PrepStar and was a Class 6A All-State selection by the Associated Press. Considered one of the best defensive end prospects of his class, he received offers from numerous schools all over the nation, but was successfully recruited by the University of Southern California.
Williams was able to make an instant impact at USC, playing as a defensive tackle and appearing in 13 games as a true freshman, starting nine of them. In the process, he became the first true freshman to start a game at defensive tackle for more than ten years. Over the duration of the season, Williams registered 64 tackles in total, including 13.5 for a loss, eight sacks, four deflections and one interception. As a result of his impressive performances, he was voted as the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year.
Ahead of his sophomore season in 2013, Williams was switched to defensive end and went on to enjoy another impressive year, despite being affected by a shoulder injury for part of the season. He started 13 games for the Trojans in total, missing only the game against California. Williams ended the season with 74 tackles, including 13.5 for a loss, which was the highest total on the team. Additionally, he recorded six sacks and two forced fumbles.
A semi finalist for the Bednarik Award, his performances throughout the 2013 season were further rewarded with inclusion in ESPN's All-American first team and the All-Pac-12 first team. Moreover, he received the Defensive Lineman of the Year Award from USC and was projected to be a high draft selection in the 2015 NFL Draft by various sources.
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