Former Nevada quality control coach Donte Williams was named USC's interim head coach Monday after the team fired Clay Helton.
The 38-year-old Williams has been a fast-riser in the coaching ranks since being a part of the Wolf Pack's historic 2010 staff. His one-year stop at Nevada was Williams' first season at the FBS level. He helped coach the team's linebackers that season, a group that included two future NFL players in Brandon Marshall and James-Michael Johnson. Williams had served at three California junior colleges (Los Angeles Harbor, El Camino, Mt. San Antonio) before getting the job at Nevada.
He moved on to Washington for the 2011-12 seasons as a graduate assistant before getting his first full-time assistant job at San Jose State from 2013-15. Williams also has coached at Arizona (2016), Nebraska (2017), Oregon (2018-19) and USC (2020-2021), where he was the team's cornerbacks coach and defensive pass game coordinator. Williams has been heralded as an outstanding recruiter.
"This season is just getting started and we have the opportunity to really do something special with this team and this program," USC athletic director Mike Bohn said in a news release. "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. We still have control of our own destiny in the Pac-12 Conference, a tremendously talented group of student-athletes, and complete faith in the phenomenal assistant coaches and outstanding support staff in the John McKay Center."
Williams is the seventh former Chris Ault assistant to become an FBS head coach, joining a list that includes Nick Rolovich, Tim DeRuyter, Bobby Petrino, John L. Smith, Jeff Horton and Jeff Tisdel. James Spady and Nigel Burton also became FCS head coaches after being an assistant under Ault.
Helton was fired after the Trojans' 42-28 loss to Stanford on Saturday. Helton went 46-24 overall and 36-13 in the Pac-12 over six full seasons and parts of two other years.