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Leonard Williams Deserves to Declare for the National Football League

Williams will follow his heart while making this crucial decision.

Leonard Williams will make his decision after the Holiday Bowl.
Leonard Williams will make his decision after the Holiday Bowl.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Forget National Signing Day, the USC coaching staff has their biggest targets on the field right now. The largest prospect, is junior defensive end Leonard Williams, who will follow his heart before making a decision on his future.

Leonard Williams is a smart man, evaluating all his options and see what's best for his future. But once Williams looks through some of the NFL Draft evaluations and recognizes what he already has in terms of an NFL frame, things will become clear.

Does the standout AP Second Team All-American and ESPN.com First Team All-American want to return for that "championship" run against UCLA and Oregon, or does he want to begin an NFL career as a top-five pick in the upcoming draft?

It's no easy choice, by an means, but the smart choice means leaving Los Angeles.

"I think about it all the time," Williams told reporters. "Everyone's asking about it. It's going to be the hardest decision I will probably ever make.

Williams has epitomized the "Fight On" spirit, playing through should issues and still dominating the college football landscape over the past two seasons. While imagining a defensive line without Williams in it would be difficult, the prospects of watching him get hurt (or derailed) in one final season would not do him justice.

Poll any USC fan and they will agree with this sentiment. No player, maybe outside of Matt Barkley or Hayes Pullard, has been more loyal to their university over the past five years. Let's face it, watching Leonard Williams grow into an elite force has been very fun to watch and rather scary for opposing offensive coordinators.

Sure there were so growing pains in the freshmen year, but the second Leonard started making plays and cleaning up his act, opposing coaches jaws dropped and studied closely how that No. 94 from Florida was so dominant.

Williams, once the face of the USC RipsIt Blog, has epitomized the brand of physical, dominating football that Trojan fans want. That persistence on the field made him an adorable figure, someone who would put their heart and soul out on that field every single play. And the past two seasons have been an absolute treat, showcasing the return of that prized first round pick that USC once controlled almost every single draft class.

It's been far too long since the Trojans' last first-round pick, since 2012 to be exact, and Leonard Williams will surely break that mark whenever his time comes. This year or next, Williams is going to be one highly coveted prospect.

All I'm really arguing is that Williams should not feel bad about leaving USC a year early, even though he never beat UCLA nor won a Pac-12 title. No. 94 has done everything, and then some, for the University of Southern California. He should focus on getting healthy, bulking up and crafting what should be a nice legacy in the National Football League.