1999: Williams has earned a starting assignment at a defensive tackle spot as a senior in 1999 after starting there part of 1998.
PAUL HACKETT SAYS: "We expect Aaron to provide our defense with senior leadership and consistent play. He performed well last year despite being nagged by injuries."
1998: Williams started 5 late-season games (California, Washington State, Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame) at defensive tackle as a junior in 1998 and was a key backup the rest of the time. Overall in 1998 while appearing in 11 games, he made 44 tackles, including 9 for losses of 11 yards (with a 1-yard sack), plus had a team-high 4 fumble recoveries (with a TD), 2 forced fumbles and 1 deflection. He got his big chance when starter Marc Matock broke his ankle against Arizona State and he played well while filling in. He had a big impact at Stanford (he was named Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week) as he recovered 2 fumbles (returning 1 for an 18-yard TD and forcing the other). He then posted a game-best 11 tackles (2 for losses) at UCLA. Earlier, he had 6 stops against Arizona State, California and Oregon. He missed the Washington game with a neck sprain, he was limited against Notre Dame after spraining his ankle in the game and he did not play against TCU in the Sun Bowl because of that injury. He won USC's Bob Chandler Award (for the underclassman with outstanding athletic ability, academic achievement and character).
1997: Williams backed up George Perry at a defensive end spot and also was available to play defensive tackle as a sophomore in 1997. Overall while appearing in all 11 games in 1997, he made 15 tackles, including 3 for losses of 8 yards, and had 1 deflection. He had 4 tackles (2 for losses) against UCLA, 3 stops at Washington and 2 at Oregon State. He missed part of 1997 spring practice because of a hip strain.
1996: As a redshirt freshman in 1996, Williams was effective as an often-used backup defensive end. He even started at Washington State for an injured Cedric Jefferson. He missed USC's first 2 games (Penn State and Illinois) after spraining his left ankle in pre-season practice and he did not play at Houston. Overall in 1996 while appearing in 9 games, he had 19 tackles, including 5 for losses of minus 23 yards (with 4 sacks for minus 22 yards), and recovered a fumble (against Washington). He had 6 stops (2 for losses) at Arizona State and 4 versus Oregon State. He was moved to defensive end (from linebacker) prior to the start of 1996 spring practice.
1995: Williams redshirted as a freshman linebacker in 1995, his first year at USC.
HIGH SCHOOL: His 1994 honors included Super Prep All-American, College Sports All-American, Super Prep All-Farwest, Blue Chip All-Western, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West second team, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, Student Sports All-State second team, Long Beach Press-Telegram All-State, All-CIF Southern Section first team, All-CIF Division II first team, Los Angeles Times All-South Bay first team, South Bay Daily Breeze All-Area first team, and All-Bay League Defensive MVP as a senior at Leuzinger High in Lawndale (Calif.). He averaged 10 tackles a game on defense in 1994 (he had 8 sacks) and ran for 1,029 yards with 16 TDs as a fullback. Leuzinger went 9-2-1 in 1994.
As a 1993 junior, he made the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Underclass, All-CIF Division III, Los Angeles Times All-South Bay, and South Bay Daily Breeze All-Area first teams, and was the All-Bay League Defensive MVP while making 88 tackles (8 stops per game) and 1 interception on defense and catching 14 passes for 380 yards (27.1 avg.) and 3 TDs as a tight end.
He averaged 4 tackles and had 15 catches as a 1992 sophomore while earning 1992 All-Bay League second team honors. He was a 3-year starter. He also played on the basketball and track (with a best of 171-2 in the discus throw and 55-0 in the shot put) teams at Leuzinger.
PERSONAL: He's an economics major at USC. In the spring of 1997, he was selected to participate in the NCAA Foundation Leadership Conference in Florida, where 300-plus student-athletes gathered to discuss solutions to critical issues facing the nation's student-athletes. He likes to write poetry. His sports hero is Junior Seau.
AARON WILLIAMS ON:
Playing defensive tackle instead of end: "I like tackle, now that I'm playing it. You take on double teams and stuff like that. It's physically demanding. You have to stay low and work the moves you do best to be effective."
USC's attacking style of defense: "I love it. You still have your responsibilities, but you have more opportunity to get after them. It lets you play. I'm not a 300-pound guy at defensive tackle. This style gives me an opportunity to use my speed and quickness."
Improving: "Coach (Ed) Orgeron keeps telling us, 'Bring your hard hat and lunch box. You have to get better.' I have to bring my tool belt to practice and games. I have to work to be a success. I'm just trying to get better, each day and every week. Defense wins championships. You have to be smart. You have to work hard."
His size: "You have to be strong physically, no matter how big you are...You can't be timid. You just get after it and take it as you go."
Attending the NCAA Foundation Leadership Conference in 1997: "I was so enlightened by the whole leadership conference. I didn't think other student-athletes had the same type of problems I was facing. I didn't feel like a lot of people felt like I felt. We hears a lot of strong voices from people who had difference problems. And it wasn't just football. It was basketball, tennis and golf and both women's and men's sports...It was very interesting, informational and inspirational. We talked a lot about athletes' image in society. A lot of the off-the-field stuff has given us a negative image...I was there to soak things up, but I did address the fact that student-athletes, as far as job experience, don't have a lot of extracurricular opportunities. It's hard to succeed with a degree and no experience in your field...We talked about things like how student-athletes who do not play professional sports can help themselves get jobs. We talked about the importance of seeking internships. We talked about the student-athlete image and how we can improve it. We talked about taking responsibility for your own actions."
Responsibility and being a role model: "I grew up in a single-parent household and had to learn to take on the male role model at an early age. I had to take on a lot of responsibility because of the absence of my father. I knew my little brother was looking up to me. I knew I would be a role model and I had to be a positive figure for him. I had the opportunity to join gangs. It was a choice I had to make...The things I've encountered, I haven't let them step in the way of my goals and my dreams and the things I want to obtain. It's a long story, but life is what you make of it. It's all about what you want to do."
His mother, Tushana: "I take my hat off to my mom. My mom is my inspiration and my heart. She has taught me a lot and what she has taught me has given me lots of opportunities. In my eyes, she went from rags to riches. She was once in the projects and now she has a nice house. If my mom can do it, I can do it."
WHAT OTHERS SAY: USC offensive tackle Brent McCaffrey: "Aaron's perfect for the style of defense we have. It's tough to play against him in practice. He's awesome. He gives me fits every day in practice. He does a great job attacking because he's so aggressive. He reads offensive linemen so well. Other guys see him give 110 percent all the time. It makes you pick up your own level of play."
AARON WILLIAMS CAREER STATISTICS