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Williams on List for Biletnikoff

Times Staff Writer

USC sophomore Mike Williams was selected one of 10 semifinalists Thursday for the Biletnikoff Award, presented annually to the nation’s top receiver.

Other semifinalists are Pittsburgh’s Larry Fitzgerald, Oklahoma State’s Rashaun Woods, Washington’s Reggie Williams, Texas’ Roy Williams, Miami’s Kellen Winslow, Oklahoma’s Mark Clayton, Louisiana State’s Michael Clayton, North Carolina State’s Jerricho Cotchery, and Florida State’s Craphonso Thorpe.

Mike Williams has caught 54 passes for 786 yards and eight touchdowns. He ranks second in the Pac-10, and 10th nationally, in receiving yards at 98.3 a game. He is second in the Pac-10 and tied for 14th nationally with 6.8 receptions a game.

Williams said some of the other semifinalists probably would benefit from being the focal point of their teams’ offenses.

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“If they base it on numbers, I’m definitely not going to win it,” Williams said. “If they base it on talent, I think I’m right there.”

Williams, who is nursing a high right-ankle sprain suffered last week against Washington, was held out of only a few drills on Thursday and said he would be fit for Saturday’s Pacific 10 game between the third-ranked Trojans and sixth-ranked Washington State at the Coliseum.

Asked to assess the condition of his ankle, Williams said, “Ninety-nine percent. 100% if I take the brace off. Definitely enough to go out there and play hard.”

Williams said he would keep the brace on against the Cougars, who rank first in the conference in total defense.

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“We held him back a little bit to make sure we didn’t get him in a bad situation, but he made it through [practice] beautifully and he’s ready to go,” Coach Pete Carroll said.

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Junior linebacker Matt Grootegoed practiced for the first time this week, but Carroll said sophomore Dallas Sartz would start in Grootegoed’s place against Washington State.

Grootegoed, who sat out the Washington game last weekend because of a high ankle sprain, was held out of most drills.

“I don’t know how much I’ll be playing, but I’ll be ready if they need me,” Grootegoed said.

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Senior defensive end Omar Nazel played a limited role last week because of a cast on his right wrist, but Carroll said Nazel had become more comfortable and would start against Washington State.

He is expected to split time with redshirt sophomore Frostee Rucker, who started in Nazel’s place last week.

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USC announced that all 92,000 seats had been sold for the game against UCLA on Nov. 22 at the Coliseum.


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