USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams was added to the College Football Performance Award’s (CFPA) 2012 National Freshman Performer of the Year Watch List on Wednesday. Williams is one of four Pac-12 freshmen on the list, along with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, Oregon State running back Storm Woods and UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley.
The watch list is meant to highlight freshmen whose performances merit recognition. All of the players are eligible for weekly, annual and career awards. The CFPA chooses their candidates by using objective scientific rankings that determine how individuals increase the overall effectiveness of their teams.
Past winners of the award include Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller in 2011, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore in 2010 and Oregon running back LaMichael James in 2009.
Williams has 21 tackles (13 solo) and 5.5 sacks this season and has served as an important piece of USC’s revamped defensive line. He was ejected in the first half of the Trojans’ 50-6 win over Colorado last Saturday for punching a player, but he was recently cleared to participate in this Saturday’s game at Arizona against the Wildcats.