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The Lion of USC's Defense, Big No. 94 Leonard Williams

Big Leonard Williams has been a rock on USC's defense.
Big Leonard Williams has been a rock on USC's defense.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Ever wonder why Leonard Williams is so dominant week-in and week-out?  The secret sauce to his success, besides an outstanding frame, great coaching and tremendous motor is the "Inner Lion" that spreads between his powerful arms.

When Williams first arrived on USC's campus back in 2012, touting himself a talented five-star prospect from Florida, he was best known for a somewhat immature persona on the field and a shy, unassuming personality in the locker room. That has all changed, and big No. 94 is now always in the middle of friendly conversation.

Fast forward two years, after back-to-back All-Pac-12 campaigns, and the engaging defensive monster has turned himself into one of the faces of the USC football program. Whether it be a big-time photo shoot for USC's RipsIt blog or an appearance at Pac-12 Media Days, Leonard Williams has been a major centerpiece of the program.

He spent most of last season battling through a shoulder injury (a torn labrum that required offseason surgery), but that has not slowed down the number and quality of plays Williams has impacted here in 2014. In the midst of logging 94 plays against Arizona, Williams made one of his finest, late in the fourth quarter, stuffing the Wildcats' two-point conversion on the second-to-last drive.

Leonard Williams has been in and out of the training room almost all season but his steadfast preparation for each and every week has allowed him not to flounder under the spotlight of being the NFL's top defensive line prospect. Mental toughness has carried LW to this point, and a persistence to being on the field (and making an impact) could continue to mold his legacy into a two-time All-American award winner.

From Ed Orgeron to Pete Jenkins and now Chris Wilson, the Trojan defensive line prospect has been inspired by the hard-working, all-guts-no-glory mantra of these hard-nosed defensive line coaches. Williams is currently second on the team in tackles (51) and would love to add to his 4.5 sacks this weekend against the Cougars.

Listen to what Leonard Williams has to say about the season, his work ethic, where his big-play celebration came from and his appreciation for lions on Trojans Live, the weekly USC Athletics Radio program on The Beast 980.