LONG BEACH, Calif. (BVM) – One of the first things Lincoln Riley did when he was hired as USC’s next head football coach back in November was stop by a place that has historically meant so much to Trojans’ football.
Dating back to the 1920s with Roy “Bullet” Baker, Long Beach Poly has been at the core of much of USC’s football success. Willie McGinest, Jurrell Casey, Juju Smith-Schuster are just a few Jackrabbits (nearly 20 in all) who have gone from the hallways of Long Beach Poly to the Coliseum to the NFL.
That connection suffered under Clay Helton, who was fired by USC two games into the 2021 season, but Riley appears focused on reinvigorating the Long Beach Poly-to-USC pipeline.
“When Lincoln first came out here to USC, he came straight to Poly that same week and he let me know that the first thing he wants to do to rebuild USC is by getting the Poly kids back,” four-star linebacker Dylan Williams said. “I want to start the Poly pipeline to USC back up.”
Williams is the perfect prospect for Riley to start with.
The freakishly athletic sophomore is the nation’s No. 14-ranked linebacker in the Class of 2024 by 247Sports and held offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Michigan State, Utah and others before committing to the Trojans during an on-campus visit on Saturday.
— Dylan Williams (@Dwill_2024) April 11, 2022
The 6-foot-3 Williams said USC has been recruiting him harder than anyone else since January, and for good reason. His versatility and ability to not only rush the passer and stop the run, but cover slot wide receivers and tight ends makes him one of the most coveted linebackers in the country.
“I feel like I’m the most athletic linebacker in the country; there’s not too many linebackers who can cover, come off the edge, blow up plays in the backfield and get strip sacks,” Williams said. “I also feel like I’m the best at covering; that’s my specialty. You can line me up with a slot or tight end in man-to-man and they’re getting locked.”
Williams said he’ll be deployed at Will linebacker for the Trojans and it’s there where he’ll plan to accomplish a pair of massive goals: help USC return to the top and get himself to the NFL like many who came before him.
“I’m just trying to rebuild USC and get it right back to how it was,” Williams said. “I’m real close with Coach Odom (USC’s inside linebackers coach) and I feel like playing for him, he’s going to develop me and get me right. I feel like I’ll be able to get to the league from USC.”
Not only will Williams be close to home, but he’ll also be teammates with a familiar face.
Jason Robinson Jr., a four-star wide receiver at Long Beach Poly, committed to USC back in September and Williams has been hearing about it ever since. It marks Long Beach Poly’s first team with two future Trojans in a decade.
“Man, it’s going to be great,” Williams said of teaming up again with Robinson Jr. at USC. “Since he committed, he’s been on me like, ‘You know what to do.’”
Williams still has two seasons of high school football left and the focus will be on bulking up his 195-pound frame. The plan will be to arrive at USC at around 210 pounds without losing a step of speed or athleticism. Running track like Williams does will certainly help in that regard as he hopes to drop some time off of his 4.67 40-yard dash.
Despite the commitment, Williams still has plenty to prove before he graduates from Long Beach Poly. He missed nearly half of last season after getting injured in the opener so the future Trojan will be out to make up for lost time as a junior when the Jackrabbits kickoff in the fall.
“I just want to show that I can make plays with pick sixes, strip sacks,” Williams said. “I just want to show that I’m an athlete and a ballhawk. That’s my goal for this year, to make big-time plays.”