Donte Williams named interim head coach

Now-interim head coach Donte Williams stands holding a football and looking ahead.
Former cornerbacks coach Donte Williams will become interim head coach following former head coach Clay Helton’s departure. Williams’ first game will be against Washington State. (Image courtesy of USC Athletics)

Associate head coach Donte Williams will take over as interim head coach of USC football, USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn announced on Twitter Monday. The decision follows former head coach Clay Helton’s firing the same day and begins USC’s “national” coaching search.

Widely regarded as one of the nation’s best recruiters, Williams will now lead the Trojans in their remaining 10 games this season. Prior to his role as interim head coach, Williams held positions as associate head coach, cornerbacks coach and defensive pass game coordinator for USC. 

“This season is just getting started and we have the opportunity to really do something special with this team and this program,” Bohn wrote in a statement Monday. “Donte is an experienced and well-respected coach who is renowned for his ability to develop relationships with student-athletes, and I appreciate his willingness to take on this challenge.”

A native Southern Californian, Williams went to Culver City High School and Pasadena City College before his coaching career. He grew up watching the Trojans play on television. Now, he will be the one on screen leading USC.

His college coaching career began at junior colleges such as Los Angeles Harbor College, El Camino College and Mt. San Antonio College. After 10 years, he was named cornerbacks coach at Oregon before joining the Trojan coaching staff in 2019. During his tenure at Eugene, Williams was named top recruiter in the Pac-12 of the 2020 cycle by 24/7 Sports. 

In recent years, Williams has been part of USC’s quest to “Take Back The West,” a campaign to retain homegrown talent. Williams played a prominent role in bringing five-star and No. 2 recruit in the nation Korey Foreman to USC last summer. He also helped jump the Trojans’ recruiting ranking 50 spots for the class of 2021. 

“Successful time here: I see all the guys I coached get their degree. That’d be first,” Williams said in a Q&A with the Daily Trojan last fall. “The second is to win a national championship, so that’s more of a team goal. The third thing is all these guys that play in these games for us and play at those spots, that they get drafted and make their dreams come true.”