It didn’t look good Tuesday when redshirt sophomore nickel Max Williams had to be helped off the field during practice and then had an ice pack on his left knee over on the training table, and indeed the news is bad for the Trojans.
Williams’ father Maxzell Williams Sr. announced on social media that his son sustained a torn ACL — his second in that same left knee.
“As a parent, one of the [worst] feelings in the world is when your child is hurting. Unfortunately, with that being said, my son Max Williams III tore his ACL at yesterday’s USC practice,” the elder Williams wrote on Twitter. “We’ve been down this road [before] and back to the road to recovery.”
In a separate Facebook post, he wrote that it was a non-contact injury.
“He’s going through a rough time right now,” he wrote.
Williams sustained his first ACL tear during the opening game of his senior season at Gardena Serra HS. He committed to USC after the injury as the Trojans remained undeterred in their interest in the 4-star DB.
Williams has 28 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections and a forced fumble while mostly playing behind starting nickel Greg Johnson the last two years, or coming onto the field when USC uses an extra defensive back.
But Williams had made a strong impression on the new defensive staff over the last year and seemed to be building momentum toward a larger role. With Johnson out this spring recovery from his own injury, Williams had been taking all the first-team reps at nickel.
When he got hurt Tuesday during the early team period, Briton Allen moved into that primary nickel role. He should get a long look the rest of the spring, and USC may also consider experimenting with some of its other young safeties.
As for the fall, incoming 4-star DB Jaylin Smith, who will join the program this summer, has been talked about as a likely nickel. He could move into a key depth role early in his first year.