Williams, McKnight Declare For NFL

Jan. 8, 2010

USC junior wide receiver Damian Williams, who led the Trojans in receiving the past 2 seasons, and junior tailback Joe McKnight, the team's leading rusher in 2009, announced today (Jan. 8) that they will forego their senior years of collegiate eligibility and declare for the NFL draft.

'After a great deal of thoughtful discussion and prayer, I have decided that I will forego a fifth year of eligibility at USC and enter the 2010 NFL Draft,' said Williams. 'It was a difficult decision, but I am blessed to have some great people around me to counsel me, including my family and Coach Carroll.

'The NFL has been a dream of mine since I can remember and I feel that it is my time to take this step to the next level. I am proud to have earned my degree from USC, and that was an extremely important part of this decision for me and my family.

'I want to thank Mr. Garrett, our athletic director, Coach Carroll and the entire staff for preparing me to take this next step. I want to thank my teammates who will always be my Trojan family. I also want to thank the USC fans who embraced me and made me feel like home, and the Arkansas community who supported me throughout my career.'

Williams was an All-Pac-10 first team selection in 2009 as both a wide receiver and punt returner. He also won All-American third team honors and was USC's team MVP in 2009. He had 70 receptions for 1,010 yards with 6 touchdowns this past season and was sixth nationally in punt returns with a 14.2 average. His 2 scoring punt returns were 1 shy of the school season record set in 1952. He was the Emerald Bowl Offensive MVP following his 12-catch, 189-yard performance.

As a sophomore in 2008 in his first year as a starter, he caught 58 passes for 869 yards with 9 TDs. The native of Springdale, Ark., sat out the 2007 season at USC after transferring from Arkansas, where he had 19 catches for 235 yards and 2 scores as a part-time starter.

He ranks 11th on USC's career receiving list with 128 receptions. He had 7 games in his Trojan career with 100-plus all-purpose yards.

McKnight became USC's 26th 1,000-yard rusher in a season when he had 1,014 yards on 164 carries with 8 TDs in 2009 as the starting tailback. He also caught 22 passes for 146 yards.

As a 2008 sophomore, he had 659 yards on 89 carries with 2 TDs, plus 21 receptions for 193 yards with 1 TD. He ran for 540 yards on 94 carries with 3 touchdowns, caught 23 passes for 203 yards with 1 TD and returned 19 punts for 160 yards (8.4 avg.) as a freshman in 2007.

He had 2,213 career rushing yards to rank 14th on USC's career list, with 7 career 100-yard rushing games. He had 14 career games with at least 100 all-purpose yards. He had 66 career receptions.

'The time is right,' McKnight told ESPN earlier today. 'This was my first healthy season and I really don't want to come back and risk injury.'

In the lockerroom after last month's Emerald Bowl, junior defensive end Everson Griffen announced he was passing up his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

Griffen had 84 career tackles, including 21 for losses (with 18 sacks). As a starter in 2009, he made 45 tackles, including 9.5 for losses (with a team-best 8 sacks), plus he had 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 1 deflection.

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