USC's Donte Williams is promoted to associate head coach

Ryan Kartje
Cornerbacks coach Donte Williams works with players during NCAA college football.
Donte Williams calls out to players when he was a cornerbacks coach at Nebraska in 2017. (Nati Harnik / Associated Press)

When Donte Williams was hired away from Oregon last January, his arrival as USC’s cornerbacks coach was hailed as a huge victory for a staff that struggled on the recruiting trail.

A year later, a retooled operation has the Trojans competing again for top talent, and Williams has a new title to show for it, reflective of how instrumental USC sees him to its success.

Williams was promoted to associate head coach, USC announced on Thursday after a season in which the program surged 50 spots up the national recruiting rankings and its pass defense improved significantly.

“This promotion reflects the immediate impact that Donte has made and the respect he has earned since joining our program,” USC coach Clay Helton said in a statement. “We have seen that impact both with the improved performance of the players he has coached and in his recruiting accomplishments.”

The promotion should help keep the Trojans' top recruiter from leaving in the near future. Williams, currently ranked second among Pac-12 recruiters according to 247 Sports, was credited with being the lead recruiter on seven of USC's 12 four-star signees in the 2021 class.

His work as USC’s cornerbacks coach hasn’t received the same plaudits, but the Trojans took a major leap forward in that regard in 2020. USC allowed just 216 passing yards per game this past season, improving from 96th nationally in yards allowed per game to 43rd.

While Williams will return in 2021, the fate of the rest of USC’s staff remains up in the air. No staff changes have been announced following a season in which the Trojans (5-1) fell just short of a Pac-12 title. But no assurances, outside of Williams’ promotion, have been publicly offered either.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.