Clay de Leon Speaks with Thomas Williams About His Trojan Career
In a long line of departing seniors, Thomas Williams is probably the most underrated of this class. Playing in the shadows of Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and an emerging Clay Matthews, some of the shine is off of Williams' profile. But he is a player, make no mistake, and this Trojan ball club will feel his loss.
Williams arrived at USC as a Scout.com 4-star linebacker and a high school All-American. He was ranked 14th in his position. Williams red-shirted his first year at USC. In his career he has played all linebacker positions and played fullback in 2006 when there was a rash of injuries to the postition. Williams has been a leader on special teams and is one of the more vocal leaders of this football team.
His willingness to contribute and play any position asked of him typifies his strength of character. While desiring to remain a linebacker in 2006, and after some hesitation, he finally agreed to switch to fullback, for the sake of the team.
In 2007, Williams was asked to play all linebacker positions after Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga, Clay Matthews and later in the year, Keith Rivers all suffered various injuries. He played each position well, although he doesn't carry the star-power of the aforementioned linebackers.
At times this season, Williams has been the vocal leader of the ball club.
SCPlaybook met with Williams to discuss his career and what may be in store for him once he graduates from USC.
What is the significance of the Rose Bowl to Williams? "It's not just about me, it's all the seniors, fourth year guys, fifth year guys, everybody who's put a tremendous amount of effort, work, guys who's been around here four or five years from all over different parts of the country." He continued, " It's like a ‘going away party' for us. We, we deserve it, you know, a lot of guys been here sweating, starting at the bottom of the totem pole, now we are at the top of the totem pole for everybody in the country."
How does it feel to be winding down his career here? Williams responded, "It's exciting, you know, looking around at the guys and this is our last practice at Howard Jones Field in pads, so it's bittersweet."
We asked Williams what his best Bowl Game experience was, and he responded, "Best bowl experience was to travel with everybody, to the Orange Bowl, being out there together in just a different environment. Go to a hotel, it's something we'll never forget."
Thinking about USC and what it's meant to him, he said, "I'll miss this environment, you're in an environment with someone for four or five years, you're going to miss them. It's rare on the next level or in life after football, that we get a chance to go through situations like this. I'm just going to miss it. Lawrence Jackson, Keith Rivers, Sedrick Ellis, Sam Baker, Drew Radovich, Matt Spanos, all those guys I came in with."
We asked Williams what's in his immediate future. He replied, "Whatever God has for me to do. If God sees fit (pros), if not, it's a goal since I was I was a kid. When you're five, six years old, you want to be a professional athlete. But that's not all I can do, play football, being around here at USC and all of the guys, I think I've become more-well rounded."
Thomas Williams has been a superb linebacker for the Trojans. He's played in the shadows of great linebackers, but in his own right, an excellent linebacker.