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Williams will return in 2009

USC will have its leading receiver back in 2009.

Damian Williams said Tuesday that he would return to the Trojans next season regardless of where he might be projected to be chosen in the NFL draft.

“I’ll be here next year,” said Williams, a third-year sophomore who transferred from Arkansas.

Williams, junior quarterback Mark Sanchez, junior running back Stafon Johnson and junior safety Taylor Mays are among the Trojans’ draft-eligible players awaiting projections they requested from the NFL. Players have until Jan. 15 to decide whether to make themselves available for the April draft.

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The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Williams has caught 48 passes for 707 yards and eight touchdowns. His preparation for Thursday’s Rose Bowl game against Penn State has been limited because of a shoulder injury suffered against UCLA.

Williams has been cleared to play, but said he probably would take a pain-killing injection to ease possible discomfort from what will be his first contact in nearly a month.

“When it comes, it comes,” he said of being hit. “I’m probably not going to feel it anyway.”

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It’s over . . . for now

The back-and-forth spurred by Ken Norton’s accusation that UCLA told recruits he would join the Bruins’ staff if DeWayne Walker left for another job is “over,” according to Trojans Coach Pete Carroll.

UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel has denied Norton’s accusation.

“Everybody wanted to see a rivalry,” Carroll said. “Well, when you’re this close stuff’s going to come up now and then. . . . But I would bet there will be more stuff because I tell ya, they’re across the town, we’re right across town.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just stuff that happens. And if it wasn’t like that nobody would care. And guys care a lot in all phases and everybody’s battling and competing.”

Asked if the situation was over, Norton said, “My take is the head coach’s take.”

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Final workout

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The Trojans’ final full practice included a mock game and concluded with seniors making a traditional run to the exit gate through a tunnel of teammates.

“I like their demeanor the last couple days,” offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said. “They’re focused and into it but yet they’re relaxed and they’re having fun. And that’s confidence and hopefully we can just continue that on for the next 48 hours and be ready for the game.”

Sarkisian is headed to Washington after the game.

“I’ve been able to get part of the staff assembled, I’ve been able to get recruiting done but I’ve also been able to put together a game plan that we think is one that’s going to help us win the ballgame,” he said.

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Quick kicks

Fullback Stanley Havili will not play in the Rose Bowl because of academic ineligibility, Carroll said. Freshman D.J. Shoemate, sophomore Rhett Ellison and junior Adam Goodman have practiced in his place and will share the spot. . . . Sophomore Butch Lewis will start ahead of Nick Howell at right tackle, offensive line coach Pat Ruel said. Howell, who suffered an ankle sprain against Notre Dame, will also play. . . . Former USC receiver Keyshawn Johnson, the 1996 Rose Bowl MVP, attended practice.

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gary.klein@latimes.com


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