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Debo Williams on impact of NIL: 'You can change your life'

In 2020, Debo Williams planned on playing his freshman season at Delaware. He was staying close to home to begin his college career, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to change course after the season was canceled.

Williams then entered the transfer portal and enrolled at South Carolina for the 2021 season. As he made his way to Columbia, the college sports world saw a major shift when the NCAA announced its interim NIL policy in June of that year. It opened the door for athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness for the first time – and Williams watched as the SEC adjusted to the new landscape.

Williams didn’t venture too far into the NIL space to start his South Carolina career, but signed with the Gamecocks-focused NIL collective, the Garnet Trust, in December 2023 and is gearing up to host a football camp. Speaking with GamecockCentral’s Mike Uva in a Garnet Trust exclusive interview, he reflected on the impact NIL is making on his life.

“It’s a blessing, man,” Williams said. “NIL-wise, if you’re doing the right things, you can change your life, you can change your family’s life.

“I know a lot of negative stuff comes with it because you’ve got players that will just up and leave a school. I know a lot of people don’t like it for that aspect. But it’s definitely a blessing.”

Williams is hosting a camp June 22 in partnership with the Garnet Trust. He’ll be at White Knoll High School in Lexington leading a group of 3rd-8th grade students as they learn the game of football. Through the Garnet Trust, teammates LaNorris Sellers and Tonka Hemingway will also be in attendance.

Those camps are possible through NIL, and it’s another reason Williams is keeping things in perspective. It’s another way for him to give back as he gears up for his fourth season at South Carolina.

“Camps-wise, to be able to bring that to South Carolina or even what I was doing in Delaware, to be able to have opportunities like that, it’s just a blessing,” Williams said. “That’s all I can say. Thank God for all the opportunities that are given to me.”

Debo Williams is coming off a breakout junior season at South Carolina, totaling 113 tackles to go with 9.0 tackles for loss and a sack. Those numbers earned him honorable mention All-American honors from Phil Steele. He’ll look to carry that momentum with him into the 2024 campaign, which starts Aug. 31 against Old Dominion.

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