Greatest Trojans

 Now that the season has ended and we hope for a repeat of Do You Believe in Miracles in the Rose Bowl, I am posting my rating of top Trojans by position that I have seen.  Obviously, everyone has different opinions and I am sure I left out some noteworthy people.  I did it so others could join in on the fun.  I also noted  SI 2003 NC book picked all time USC team.  I also did it as a salute to these guys for all the entertainment and great moments they provided in my life.  In doing it, I realized in being a USC  fanatic.   I was lucky.  No other school produced as great a wealth of players at all positions.

            In doing this I am not rating who was the best player.  Pro careers were not considered.  Just what they contributed to USC.  By that criteria guys who played 4 years have advantage over those that played one, etc..  This is little unfair to JC transfers and to those who could not play when they were freshmen. 

            As this is by position, they are some other problems to consider.  Pre 1964 players went both ways and there were specific substitute rules.  It is amazing that the 62 undefeated team actually won more on its defense with  qb and rbs for a secondary.  But in those days few teams had qb’s with the passing gifts that most every one has today. Positions also changed, number of linebackers, rover, etc.  At one time USC had a left halfback and a right half back.  At one time they had 4 linebackers.  Another time, two. Earlier there was a back and a flanker which was a little different then 2-wide outs as played today.

Because of this some guys can be up for more than one position.  Also I am not including any underclassmen on this USC team that are still playing.  Please excuse misspells of any name.  Your disagreements and additions are welcome.  In this nobody is right or wrong.  It is how you saw it and experienced the players.


  1. Matt Lienart.


Ok…so I lied.  I did include one underclassman.  He is the only one and the reason was that in his two yeas he has already produced more that any college QB.  The only QB to back to back in college history.  His TD-interception rate is off the charts.  Leadership, poise and intelligence were also off chart.  His first year he had crutches in BMW and Colbert and in a great offensive line.  What he did this season, with BMW gone, Whitney lost, Jarrett learning and Byrd and Smith out multiple games was incredible.  Not only did he have to do his reads and find the open receiver, he had to put the ball on the money.  And he did.  Besides, next season is not hard to predict.  He will have a better OL and the best 6 set of  receivers, best collection of running backs, in Al American tight end, and a pass-happy fast fullback.

2.  Pat Haden

            Surprise, surprise.  Carson Palmer was best athlete, best arm and had one of best years ever, and first Heisman QB.  But this is based on USC total career. Haden, was pin point, smart and a leader.   He provided three years, three rose bowls and 2 national championships.  While not a starter on the 72 dream team McKay went to him when they were down a touchdown and a field goal up at the Farm and at other times with game on the line.   Haden was also at a disadvantage.    These were running teams, so his passing opportunities were not as much.  He didn’t have game plans to get him in rhythm.  He had to throw when rusty.  He was also small and would have a deep drop so his balls had to go further.  His second half of the ND miracle 74 comeback (55-24) remains the best single half qb performance (but Lienart was close in 1st half against Bruins in 2003 and may have matched it in OB first half).  At time, ND had best defense in the nation when Haden did this.  Whatever Haden through, it was caught.  Then he led the “drive” as the clock ran out to toss a TD to his life-mate J.K. McKay in the end zone, followed by his 2-point jump toss to Shelton Diggs. (18-17). Result: 2nd National Championship in three years.  He didn’t have greatest arm, but was a leader and competitor (as well as Rhodes Scholar).  He went on to lead LA Rams for a few years.  Trivia Question:    What QB did he replace?  Hint.  Haden had to come in when his knees finally go no more.   Win a McDonald’s toy.

Haden’s numbers would be far greater in today’s game.  .  Wouldn’t it be nice to get him from ND broadcasts to replace to USC games (or would we just think Tom Ramsey had been re-hired?)


.  He led USC to Nat championship 1978.  And regardless what those Southern Bear loving reporters voted in the AP, this team left no doubt by Dominating Crimson Tide at Alabama.   McDonald came so close to a back to back.  In 79 there no losses and only a 21- point comeback  by Stanford to tie prevented repeat the 79 repeat.  They were the best team in 79.  Ironically Alabama got the back to back having gone undefeated in 79.   But USC would have been a 7-point favorite given the bruising they gave Tide in 78. As to USC title in 78, McDonald was the final hero. USC had 17 point lead on ND in 78 in 4th quarter when Joe Montana did his thing and the Irish went up by 1 with about 5- seconds left.  USC had no time outs, but McDonald passed them into field goal range and a kick to the national title on the game’s last play.  A lefty, he played smart, read defenses and was a great leader.   Like in Haden years , USC was still primary running, so McDonald didn’t throw as many passes and the game plans were based more on stabling running then passing rhythm.


         Criticized some for earlier years, the fact is he had to carry the team.  Didn’t have as great receivers and without rbs and OL was easy target.  He was off to great start his soph year before knocked out.  A lucky “break” because otherwise he would not have had that final year and got the big bucks. After Chow arrived,  Carson learned not to try to do it all on his own and throw on confidence when it was wiser to throw it at the players bench.  The fact is Palmer has made the QB a glamour position and his 2002 year has led Troy to return to glory.


            If Carson brought on the Return to Glory, Beathard stated it.  McKay bombed in his first year with a team of high expectations.  But he was out recruiting for his own type of players.  In l960, Soph Bill Nelson took over midway and led the upset of UCLA that saved McKay’s job.  But McKay benched him in 61 in favor of Soph Beathard.  USC showed its future promise by being down 21-0 to No. I  Iowa at Coliseum and then losing on a failed 2-point try 35-34.  In l962 he led Mckay to first title and unbeaten season.  Some times Bill Nelson relieved, or came in on the “Green team” which  played offense only.   Pete was the ideal college qb at the time.  He could run and pass and pass on the run.  At times USC resembled a single wing with roll-out option run or pass.  When he tossed 4 touchdown passes in the Rose Bowl against  No. 2 Wisconsin he was the first at USC to do it.  Bill Nelson was a high draft pick by the Pros following 62.  The scouts said Beathard was the perfect college QB, but Nelson fit the pros.  Nelson did go on to star with Cleveland Browns. Beathard had a journeyman pro career mainly as a back-up.

His roll out options not fit for the pros, he was not the drop back thrower Nelson was, proving the scouts right on this one.  Beathard probably should have gone to the pros as a safety.  The “red unit” which played majority game went both ways and Beathard was a great safety.  Few teams scored any points on USC and Troy pitched several 3 shutouts while allowing only 55 all year (then Wisconsin got half of that total in the,4th qt of RB in losing effort) despite being small, particularly by today’s standards.  USC had also a “Gold” unit that played only defense and would give relief as the green team did.  This was a happy squad as every played and contributed.   The Gold team made stops, the Green team scored in the Rose Bowl and produced the only touchdown in 7-0 rematch at Iowa.

            SIXTH RODNEY PEETE. 

He and Beathard were similar in style. Rodney was a better scrambler.  Peete took over as a freshman from a QB who would play in the pros (Salisbury) and led Troy for 4 years and into two Rose Bowls.  He upset top UCLA in 85.  What he is best remembered for is that outstanding 87 come from behind defeat of what I believe was the most loaded Bruin team of all time, led by Troy Aikman.   He saved a touch down at the end of the first half chasing down a Bruin d-back who had intercepted on the goal line and was sprinting the distance.  Peete caught him from behind inside USC 20.  Fortunately the refs could not keep and didn’t see to get him down Rodney grabbed the face mask.   The next year he got up from his bout with the measles to defeat Aikman again.  Poor Aikman, all those super bowl rings but no victory bell.  Rodney came within a Lou Holtz ND victory of the NC in l988.  Won the Unitas Award that year and runner up in Heisman.


He was 3rd or 4th string when UCLA coach Tommy Prothro said he would start Sogge if he had the choice.  Injuries gave Sogge that opportunity in his junior year ironically making Prothro a twice loser to Troy in 67 and 68.  In 67 his main job was to hand off to O.J. with an occasional throw to Earl McCullouch.   He brought home McKay’s second title. He was not fast, nor strong armed, and he was Haden-sized.  But a true leader and a player.   Like Street at Texas, he won games.  In 68 he passed well enough to be first string all league (whatever Pac 10 was called then) and his passing brought back USC against ND when Irish game plan stopped OJ and preserved an unbeaten regular season.


 Based on statistics it would be easy to rate him as high as No. 2.  Strong arm with pin point accuracy and great athlete.  Unfortunately did not play on great teams and just did not win enough in the clutch.  What ever haunted him here seems to have followed him to the pros as he has as much talent as most Qb’s.  Was injury prone.

            NINTH MIKE RAE

  A sub for two years, he quarterbacked the best college team ever in 72 and got himself a pro contract.  Didn’t hurt he got to throw to Swann, McKay, Charles Young and Edesel Garrison. Or that AD, Rod McNeil and Sam Bam were in backfield.

            I am stopping there but mentioning a few others.  Brad Otton stopped the ND-Holtz domination with an inspiring performance.  The UCLA comeback that year would not have happened if Otton had not been knocked out of the game. A year earlier he lit up the Rose Bowl against Northwestern.   He was an over achiever.  So was John Fox who’s true grit ended UCLA’s 8-year reign and began a streak with no foreseeable end.         Someone help me here….a JC transfer took over for imjured Salisbury and led Troy with great leadership to win title and Rose Bowl upsetting OSU.   After a bad 75 year,      Vince Evans became a star in 76 and led USC to RB win and No. 2 rating.  In 1967, Toby Page, second string at the time but forced into duty, was smart enough to audibolize on 3rd and long in the fourth quarter from a pass to giving the ball to OJ.   Jimmy Jones threw that pass to Dickerson in the corner against the Bruins in 69 as the wild bunch took USC to No. 2 finish (they were the best team). Craig Fertig redshirted to have one year after Beathard left.  And what a year.  The fourth down pass to Sherman and the fall of No. 1 Irish in 64. Rob Hertel passed well for an under achieving 77 team. Todd Marinovich…the sky was the limit but his plane crashed.



            Despite all the great ones, top choice was not difficult.  Even though he had only 2 years, they were truly amazing.  OJ Simpson was the first big back with little guy moves and track speed.  But he had more.  A strong determination to succeed and an iron will to win.  We all know about the run to the National Title against the Bruins in 67, the greatest play in USC history given the game importance and time on the clock.  But 68 was even a more amazing season.  Gone were Ron Yary and Mike Scarpace to block for him.  And in these days everyone was up on the line to get him.  The games were close, USC often coming from behind in the 4th quarter to win.  Today, those last minute drives would be on Qb’s.  But then it was OJ student body right and left against stacked lines.  The Huskies were a typical game.  Tied late in the fourth quarter USC stops Wash on the one yard line and then marched down the field behind power running of OJ for the win as the game expired.

Any such comments as later he changed his nickname to Orange Slice will be deleted on orders of Gary.


            Most would probably think Marcus Allen.  But he only played position 2 years, and although he gained yardage his firs year  there were many who thought he should go back to fullback and Michael Harper go in as TB.  Allen gave us then  in 81 the greatest of all RB years.  But it wasn’t three.  Or two like OJ.

In my system it was a toss up between Anthony Davis and Charles White for No. 2.  White got the Heisman, the yards, and had an extra year.  Both played in 3 Rose Bowls.  I go with Davis because he was so dynamic and explosive.  He was maybe the most exciting back to watch since OJ and before No. 5 arrived.  Like Allen and White is college football hall of famer.

            In his  sophomore year in 72 the dream team, fighting Dan Fouts, was amazingly in a 0-0 tie when Davis  entered very late in the third quarter.  It was here he would take over from senior Rod McNeil for the rest of the season and gain over a 1000 yards.  What Davis did should be as legendary as his ND games. On two consecutive carries, he ran 55 yard for a TD.  Who did that before or since?   Bush did longer twice against UCLA but not back to back carries breaking open a scoreless tie.  Then came the knee dances against UCLA and the 6 tds against ND to put away the title.  ND made a rally against the dream team until Davis took back the kick-off all the way.  It was the second time he did it that game.  He did the same with the opening kick off.  His junior year he tried to hard to go all the way at first (probably do to Heisman watch) but then settled back into hitting the hole with as much if not more explosiveness as any Trojan back.  One of the pushes to No.2 position is of course the addition of his kickoffs.  He set the NCAA record at time for touchdown career returns..  Two years later, legendary Irish coach Ara Parseghian, ahead 24-6, in memory of 72, told his team to start the second half by kicking it to Davis and then ramming the ball down his throat.  Unfortunately, for the coach, his team did as it was told. After wedge blocks by freshmen Mosi and soph Bell, Davis went all the way to spark a 55-24 comeback. Parseghian then announced his retirement after 10 seasons at the helm.   Davis always out played Archie Griffin who won 2 Heisman’s over Davis. Davis was clearly better back in 75 Rose Bowl before being hurt.  Davis exploded through the whole.  That was his trademark plus  moves like the funky chicken.  He had no real NFL career because he went with the WFL where he played with Haden.  Paid too much money, Davis drove Rolls Royces  and never returned to playing shape when WFL folded.

Third Charles White

            Charles White had a tremendous 4 seasons.  As a freshmen he led USC to Rose Bowl victory over Michigan when Ricky Bell went down.  As a junior he made the long TD run that broke open the game against then No.1 Alabama and gave USC a Nat title in 78.  In 79 he led an unbeaten season.  And then there was that  drive, down by 6….against undefeated Ohio State in the Rose Bowl battling the clock and starting on I think was Troy’s 17 yard line.  In two sweeps he gained over 50 yards.  Tired, Allen and his sub took it to around the 10.  Back came Charlie holding a NO. 1 finger in the air.  Three White carries later USC remained unbeaten. One of the most amazing moments in USC history.  In his goal line leap and he had to re-grasp a bad-handoff.  But this time this was no phantom TD ala the prior Rose Bowl.  John Robinson called him the toughest guy he ever coached.  He did not have blazing speed, but once he got past personal problems he managed, reunited with Robinson,  to lead the NFL in rushing one year.


  He started out as a linebacker, then played fullback and was switched his junior year to tailback.  The strongest of all Trojan runners he simply plowed over them and ran by them.  Probably had more yards gained after first hit then any back.  Think Lendale White. Bell led 76 team to No. 2, in opening game loss preventing a championship. Great heart and amazing to watch poor defenders try to stop him.  When McKay went to Tampa he made Bell his No.! choice. Too bad his pro career was with a terrible team and that he died so young.  Truly a great Trojan.  A movie was made about him for TV.


            People may be surprised I bring in Marcus Allen at No. 5.  Arguably he was the best all round back in USC history.  But this isn’t the basis here.  His career as a great running back was really only one year.  Marcus played mop up to White as a freshman and fullback as a sophomore (one of best USC has ever had).  Too his credit, he didn’t want to play fullback, but Robinson asked him how much playing time did he think he would get playing behind White.  He quickly learned to block. This probably made him a better player later, and a better pro. His junior year was good but night and day compared to his senior year that was probably the most prolific running of any Trojan tailback. His single season all purpose yards record survived Bush’s challenge this year.  He was multi-talented, a pure football player.  Probably would have been All American at split end or safety.  Played QB in high school.  He has honored USC by his class in post graduate career and remains a great supporter.  Probably looked upon today by many as USC’s greatest player.


           The guy today who reminds me of Garrett is UCLA’s Maurice Drew.  Garrett wasn’t as fast, but he could cut, had moves and was incredibly strong.  Sometimes more fullback then half back.  Played his heart out every down and was the first of the Heisman run and Tailback U.  In 64 was one of the heroes in the 0-17 to 21-17 victory over No.l ND in last game. Broke a tie with Stanford in 65 with a 65 yard TD run late in the game.  Maybe the first college runner to carry over 20 times a game consistently.  Backs were not considered as durable back then.  Greatest Trojan feat, however, was hiring Pete Carroll.


  What was he like?  Think Reggie Bush.  Ran 98 yards (or was it 92) for touchdown as sophomore. Trojan record.  Ran back kickoffs for TDs.  As a junior led USC to NC in 62.  Ken Del Conte ran, too, as two running back formation but Del Conte was known more as great blocker for Willie.  Wisconsin players in Rose Bowl said Brown was what made USC great. He was also great defensive back as well.  As a junior he became the first back McKay would send out in motion to catch passes from Beathard.  This was new in 62.  When Garrett arrived in 63 Brown became more of a flanker, possibly the first one for USC.  He played all 3 positions in the pros he played at USC.  Running back, receiver and d-back.


More remembered for his catch in the NFL playoffs it is sometimes forgotten at USC as he had to replace OJ.  But he was a star for 2 years.  In l969, the second year USC was the cardiac kids, he made the key fourth period runs instead of OJ.

            NINTH SULTAN McCULLUCH.  As a frosh he contributed behind Chad Morton and as a sophomore was the first 1,000 yard runner in a long time. He did that on not so talented team and without a great offensive line.  Like Bush, if he got out in front it was a TD.  While his junior year was cut short, he was a great contributor as a senior.  Some didn’t think he hit the line hard enough or danced too much.  But after Fargas took over, McCullouch  was motivated and changed.  When he was at full speed and he made people miss.  Never complained when Fargas took over..  And against ND and Iowa he had one-man touchdown drives, like White did in OB.  Went all the way in an allstar game.


By my criteria it is hard for Fargus to break the top ten.  His entire career was half a season only.    But in doing so he brought back what a Trojan back was suppose to be.  His spirit has carried over as a model for the backs today.  He helped bring Troy back.  He performance was probably a reason Bush, White and Washington came. Remember that determination on the 50-second drive at the end of the Ist half vs. ND.  His explosion in the same game and then again against an Iowa team that supposedly could not be run against.  So they said.  If from beginning he went here instead of Michigan no telling where he would rank.  Gutsy move to follow his dream and give up a year of eligibility.  Paid off with a pro career.

            Others to remember. 

Ricky Ervins career was cut short.  But remember that key run with the pass into the flat against the Bruins in his first game.  A human bowling bowl and a great runner.

Remember Scott Lockwood, Evins teammate.  Watch him in the 88 Washington game.  A real gamer. On a team with many  talented runners.  Not as flash but this kid was an over achiever and all football player. Moved to full back his senior year and was great.  Shawn Walters had a great year for Robinson but his senior year was ruined by an agent.    Mazio Royster showed brilliance but was one of many players who did not get along with Larry Smith.  Don McCall had a good one year in between Garrett and Simpson and Steve Grady was a great back-up to all three.            

And then there is that walk-on surfer Sonny Byrd.  Some say he was 3-yards and a lot of a dust and he never got that promised 30-yard run.  But what he did was step up in 2001 when all backs were down and knocked defenders backwards with hard runs and blocks.  Defenses had to stop him, which finally opened the air game.  And time and time again he would make a ten yard timely run or pass catch-run as a safety valve.  Matt Ware wishes he never tried to tackle him. Byrd’s guts and desire allowed USC to go unbeaten that November, beat UCLA and build Trojan confidence, as well as starting all the recruitment.  Troy owes a debt to Sony Byrd.  We know it and that is why we rejoiced in the Byrd drive against Iowa.  McKenzie had a great last season while sharing time with talented players in 2002.  His two draw runs were the key to beating UCLA in 2000.  Chad Morton gave it his all for several years playing on weaker teams.  Alan Shields wasn’t bad in l959 and was McKay’s first back in 60.  But in one game, the one against the Bruins in 60 it was 3rd string 175 Cark Skvarna, who was so skinny he also place kicked, that made the big runs.

Ken Del Conte was on the 62 NC  team as the two back set with  Brown and Ben Wilson.  His main job was to block for Brown and he was great.  In the showdown with the Huskies  he and Brown took turns darting through the line in a ball control dominated 14-0 win.  Another shut out for the Red and Gold units.

Jon Arnett belongs somewhere up there. But I don’t have many memories of watching him play.  I remember as a kid his running back the opening kickoff for a touchdown against UCLA, the jaguar weaving and bouncing, only to have it called back and then Troy losing.  His senior year was cut short by some league penalties.  Still made college football hall of  game.  Teammate C.R. Roberts held the game rushing record until Bell broke it.  Frank Gifford , another CF Hall member, was great but I never saw him play until the 1958 Giants-Colt game.  Angie Coia  was fast and made it in pros as a receiver.  Jerry “Peaches” Traynham was a fighter as was Rod McNeil 72 and  Aaron Emanuel 88..  Best back who never was a starter was Allen Carter.  Highly recruited, he played behind Anthony Davis for 3 years.  But in the 75 Rose Bowl game, when Davis went down, Carter responded with a career second half that landed him a pro career and USC a NC title.   Steve Webster played hard in late 80’s.



            First choice here is again easy.  Sam Bam Cunningham may have been college football’s all-time fullback.  He in in college football Hall of Fame He occasionally, when needed, played tailback and pounded out 100-yard games.  McKay called him the best runner he ever turned into a blocker.  And he was the best blocker at this position I ever saw.  Still he was dynamic on short yard goal line runs where he flew through the air (4 times v. Ohio State in 73 RB) a feat begun by OJ.  He is part of history for the tale of Bear Bryant using him to desegregate Southern football teams.  Arguably was MVP of the 72 Trojans, a team considered by some the best ever in college.  His brother became a famous NFL QB and as great as they both were it is odd what different type of players they were.


 The first “Refrigerator” Mosi was a stud blocker and hard to bring down runner.  Look for the block he through as frosh on Davis kick return TD in 74 vs. the Irish. Great contributor to 76 team  that finished No. 2.  Also great special team.  Had a long Pro career where he got more carries.

            THIRD: BEN WILSON

Big Ben Wilson, as he was called, would be the first BMW.  He ploughed through defenders for John McKays first national championship team.  When he tore up Notre Dame in season finale he spoke to the cheering section and said if anyone doubted USC was No.1 he could meet him outside tunnel No……


How good was he?  Ricky Bell played behind him.  He had a key long run to set up touchdown in national championship game against OSU in 75 Rose Bowl.  He was the smartest of the Farmer family.  Only family member who knew which school to go to.

            FIFTH  DANNY  SCOTT  

Fifth might be a surprise as only old timers will remember him.  Scott  was pug sized and second string when future No. I draft choice Mike Hull went down for the season in l967.    He became the model for lead blockers plowing the way.  He always got his man which made life easier for the guy behind him, O.J.  Rarely ran, but had success when he did, occasionally caught a pass, he was a tough guy who over achieved.

            SIXTH LEROY HOLT

    Was a star on 87-89  teams that went to Rose Bowl.  One of best runners, he slashed like White.  Was fiery.  Good  blocker and a guy who didn’t fumble. A cheer leader on the field.

            I am calling it a three-way tie for seventh place between three one-year wonders.  If any of these guys played the position more than one year they would be moved up the list. Two were converted to the position from running back for just one season.  Both blocked for the same guy, Charles White.  Lynn Cain did it well enough in l978 to gain a 1,000 yards, unheard of for a Trojan fullback.  It got him a pro contract.  Next year Marcus Allen moved over to the position and got the toughness that would make him one of football’s all time athlete and players.  Marcus was a dynamite blocker who could catch the ball, too. And, of course, he could run.  During these two years USC had a single loss (caused by fumbled snaps after the center went down) and one tie.   The third man in this tie is MacKenzie who played both tailback and running back his senior year in 2002.  What a job, blocking for Fargas, protecting Palmer, running for TD’s and catching those passes out of the backfield and scoring.

            Then there was Dean Strothers who caught all those passes under John Robinson’s system.  Can you believe he was the leading receiver?  Terry Barnum was a star in l995.

            Special mention  is made of  that Colorado kid  Scott Lockwood again who converted to the position for his last year and became a great blocker.  This guy was a dedicated Trojan who would do whatever was asked from him.

 Ron the Horse Heller was one of best runners, just not too great a blocker (McKay said he couldn’t block his sister… If you read this Ron, hi…I am Lewis brother.  First time I saw you you were flexing in the living room mirror at my Mom’s house).  He scored the games only touchdown in 7-0 win over great Iowa team on 62 national title team  running in from 25 yards out. and ran for a touchdown of similar length  for the green unit in the Rose Bowl.  Starter in 64.  In those days, shouts of the “Horse, the Horse” had two meanings. Tod Steele was a player on 85 Rose Bowl team that upset OSU..


            The distinction between flankers and split ends has melted.  Flankers begin as running backs who would carry the ball and/or flank out.  They reversed a lot from flanker to carry the ball as well.  Johnny Rodgers of Nebraska was the proto type in 71.  ND’s Rocket is another.  Arguably Bush is a return to this mold.  So I am going to carry that distinction here as artificial as it may be this day.


            Colbert rarely ran the ball but I am not sure how many.  I do remember one play he did two seasons against the Bruins for a long TD on reverse..  Probably a surprise choice over Lynn Swann, but Keary Colbert had 4 great years.  Swann 3.  Colbert had more speed.  Both could make the acrobatic catch.  If you think my placing him here is artificial, move him to No. 1 receiver and up Swann to top spot.

        Colbert’s work ethic was so great as to affect the entire team and bring it to Return to Glory.  He is USC all time receiver, although Jarrett and/or Smith will make a run at it.   He is also possibly the best blocker USC had at that position.   Watching “Trojan Tradition Continues” I was amazed he had as many big plays as BMW made.  Was the true most valuable player in the Rose Bowl.  A classy Trojan.


Woody Hayes said he was the player who made the difference in the 73 Rose Bowl and he was a Heisman contender in 73.  He would catch anything near him and make an occasional run where he was equally dangerous.  Played on 72 dream team. Also a great punt returner.  Troy’s answer to Johnny Rodgers and he had a better pro career than Rodgers.  Was first to be of two Heisman contenders on same team.  Swann and Davis.  College foothall hall of famer.  I met Swann on campus during his junior year.  I always remembered the conversation.  He was going to be, he said, the best receiver ever in the game.  Pointing I was bigger than him at 6 foot, I asked if this was a reasonable expectation.  His response was every football player should believe that about themselves or don’t play the game.  Swann went on in the pros to make his point.


He started playing when Jim Lawrence got hurt.  Turned out he was not as good as runner as Lawerence, but a better receiver.  Had Matt Lienart Hollywood looks. Married the head cheerleader.  Not a speed burner he was the ideal 3rd down player.  Great patterns and great hands.  His catch, move and run won the 70 Rose Bowl.  Went on to Super Bowl glory with the Raiders. A great guy, his early death to cancer was a loss of a great pain to all Trojans who knew him..  Something at USC should be named after him.  Actually I think there is.  If you knew him…he was the true All-American kid.  Had great pro career. And he is a member of college foothall’s hall of fame.


Fourth is the man who first started to play like a flanker although called a halfback at the time.  Willie Brown.  USC was behind 3-0 to UCLA in the fourth quarter in 62. The Bruins had ruined a USC undefeated season in 59.  They were about to do it again. Having stopped Troy earlier on 4th and goal it was 4th down again near the Bruin goal.  McKay replaced Beathard with Nelson, the better passer, but everyone there knew the pass sailed too high.  Some one in the stands was more likely to catch it.  Nelson was swearing when he saw where it was going.  The, somehow Brown leaped in to the stratosphere and got it.  He was cut down in mid air by a hard tackle but held on and fell down on the two yard line.  First down.  It was like Jarrett’s fourth down catch against Cal, only not being as tall he leaped as high as any receiver ever did. Big Ben Wilson, who had been stopped on the previous 4th down, was mad. He stormed into the end zone, ala Lendale Whie, on the next play and McKay got his first national title.  UCLA’s comeback try ended with a Beathard interception.  Wilson, still made, than bulled and ran until it was 14-3.


Was a rare pure flanker at Troy.  He caught passes and ran for touchdowns.  Teammate to Iron Mike Garrett, he went on to fine pro career as a wide out. Also was extremely bright.  After playing on the UCLA frosh he sat out a year and transferred.  In those days he didn’t lose a year of eligibility. Best remembered for 4th down catch from Fertig that took away ND’s national title in 64 and started Parseghian’s continuous nightmares of playing the Trojans.


Curtis may have been the most talented.  He didn’t play on great teams and often his reverses and catch and runs literally won games single handedly.  Had he not given up his senior year he would probably be higher on the list.


Again, he played when flankers ran the ball more, too.  He was tough enough that when the TB’s went down, McKay moved him to TB and he responded with 100-yard games.  A great receiver.


            His catch set up first score against Irish before half in 74 comeback.  He will be best remembered for “the catch.”  Before coaches played for overtime, USC only one twice making a two- point conversion to win a  game.  This was the first one.  Haden rolled right the OSU rush was on.  The 5-10 QB had to jump to float the pass over and into end zone where Diggs made a catch like Smith’s first TD in the OB.  With it came the NC title.


            So much talent makes choices difficult.  One of the reasons I for a flanker category was to help weed it out.

FIRST CHOICE  (be surprised)

            My pick for No. 1 will certainly be called controversial.  His pro career was not hall of fame, and he was never a speed burner. But he belongs in college football’s Hall of Fame.  His statistics are not high up because during his three years USC primarily ran.  But remember my main criteria is what the player produced for USC.  I may be acting sentimental because of who is father was, and because he is part of a legend of two kids who grew up tossing the ball around on the street, going to Bishop Amant together, who lived together during high school in the same home when the QB’s family moved,  and then going on to win two national titles, but J.K. McKay is my top choice based on what he gave in his 3 years. 

His father said he had an edge in recruiting him:  “I dated his mother.”

            I don’t think JK ever dropped a pass.  His moves were sharp.  How he got open without great speed was amazing.  And he made so many key third down or other historical catches. As a sophomore he beat out speedster Garrison for the starting spot on the dream team. The one handed score against UCLA in 73 was long before BMW and Byrd.  All those incredible catches in the 2nd half vs. ND in the great 74 comeback..  His final 38-yard TD catch against OSU in 75 Rose Bowl gave USC the National Championship, the second he contributed to.  Played in 3 Rose Bowls.  Not having the physical aspects of great receivers, McKay committed himself.  And he did this while playing on running teams. A clear over-achiever.  I know his father had to be proud.  A star on two national championship teams.  A brief career with Tampa he returned to the Coliseum to play the Rams and caught a TD pass thrown by Mike Rae.   Now a lawyer, as is the high school buddy, he has also has a brother who has done OK as an NFL GM.


BMW.  Enough said.  We know he was best to ever play the position.  If he stayed all college  records wee his for the taking. When he was  a freshman, Keyshawn would complain that as Mike would play 4 years, andas Keyshawn  played just 2, Willams would break the records, but Keyshawn, Keyshawn said was the best.  Well, Keyshawn, you got your wish, Mike only played two, but your still No. 3 on this list. If the pros could trade with colleges you would have gotten back those extra two years. But for BMW not playing this year, he would probably be No. 1 by my criteria.  He would have matched McKay’s 2 NC, 3 Bowls, clutch catches and then overwhelmed him.

            THIRD:  Keyshawn Johnson was hurt by this criteria as only having played two seasons, but certainly next to Williams had the most  talent.    He showed up every game and single handily won many games, including the 96 Rose Bowl.   He brought back USC against Stanford in 95.  I am not a great fan of many of his comments but those are his right.  Overwhelmed college d-backs. 

            FOURTH: DAVE MORTON.  A great hands end he made two leaping touchdown catches as a freshman at the end of the 1990 UCLA game to win what some say was the series most exciting game.  Worked hard to improve every year, including his speed and had a great four year career. Unfortunately he did one of those win a date things on TV.


  Like J.K. McKay, lacked the speed and physical aspects. Probably even better  technician than McKay.     Caught everything within radar and didn’t manner how many defenders were hanging on him.  Great moves with the ball.  A real gamer.  Wasn’t really discovered until his junior year.  Had one of the great games in USC history in the upset of UCLA in 87 and almost got us to a title in 88.  A true All American.  Sentimentally, the way he played, he was my favorite. Never got a real shot in pros due to his lack of speed.  I think that was the pro’s loss.

            FIFTH  HAL BEDSOLE

The Prince did not have great numbers because limited throwing in the early 60’s, but most of his catches went for touchdowns. He was All American in 62 and now is a member of the Hall of  Fame.  He, Brown, Beathard  and Damon Bame  were the first fab four, the B-boys.  Against favored Duke in 62 opener Bedsole caught the game winning bomb and the momentum of the catch carried USC to a NC.   In the Rose Bowl he took one over the middle against Wisconsin ran to the sidelines and turned up field on an end zone jaunt.

            SIXTH: KAREEM KELLY:

  This, too, may be controversial.  Some see him as an underachiever.  At one point someone called him R.J. Kelley.  But what made him great was that he changed.  He started out as No.1 receiver in 2002 but became No. 3 because he just may have teamed with the two greatest in USC history.  He accepted the role and became a true team player.  He blocked and ran deep.  And he made key catches. He was responsible as much as anyone for USC reemergence.   Against Auburn in first game he caught the key third down catch on winning drive.  He caught the bomb to open second half against Oregon..  And the bomb to open first half against UCLA.  Then another one on the third play of the second half.   His most memorable play was stealing back the momentum from Iowa’s opening kickoff TD return by catching the biggest bomb of the all in the Orange Bowl.      I think it was Fargus, I am not sure, but someone in locker room at season end , seen on DVD Return to Glory, says similar things about Kelley’s change and giving it up for the team.


            Randy was an Affholter type who ran precise patterns and could always be counted on when it was third and long.  Dropping a pass was not possible. If the ball was aimed at his shoe lace he caught it.  There had to be glue on his feet to explain all the sideline grabs keeping one foot in.


            The bug didn’t catch a lot of passes, but, like Bedsole,  had some amazing statistic like every 3rd catch was a TD.  In the red zone he always got open in the end zone.  And he could catch the bomb.  Made big catch in 80 Rose Bowl, similar to Kareem’s against Iowa. Died young.


He caught enough Peete passes to temporally own the career record.  Was consistent.  A Colbert type.  Played on the  better late 80’s team.


Like Randy, another McKay-Affholter type.  Didn’t  play on great teams in early 80’s but was a sure handed receiver you had to love


USC was a running team, so not great numbers, just great catches that won or tied games.  He always did it in the West North corner, tying ND, or beating UCLA for Rose Bowl with miracle grab (how did he keep those feet in) in 69.  It was his own patch, and it was called Sam’s corner.  For Pigskin review I photographed Sam in the corner, in civies in a rocking chair with table and lamp, etc.

            Others:  Ron Drake was a great possession receiver although in his senior year he was bounced from first string by Earl the Pearl McCullouch, who was moved as a senior from a db sub to offense by McKay (who had a gift for those things) after fitted with contacts that suddenly eliminated McCullouch’s bad hands rap.  The Olympic hurdler McCullouch, and a member of then world title holder mile relay, became a star in 1967. If he had more years he would be high on the list.  He went on to a fine pro career.  But for  Drake Troy Winslow might not have completed a pass.  Gary Wellman had a great senior year.   Calvin Sweeny , Dan Garcia and Raymond Butler were go to guy on 78 and 79 great teams.  Fred Hill was on the Green team on the NC 62 champs and a star in 64.  Caught key passes, including a TD in the second half comeback to unseat NO. 1 Irish in 64.  Dave Moton played on 64 team that beat Irish and was inventor of now illegal Crach Back block.  R.J. Soward….all that talent but went the way of Marinovich. 

           Luther Hayes is a memory in late 50’s.  My first fooball memory was his running back a kickoff  for  TD against Bruins.



Again, an easy first choice.  Charles Young was the prototype for all that would follow.  Big, fast, strong, a great blocker and great hands.  Part of the mystical greatest ever 72 team. Like Byrd, he could go deep.


  Perhaps the best blocker of them all, Bob had soft hands and a gift for making key catches.  Part of 67 national champs. Watch the 69 Rose Bowl and see him leading OJ down the field.


            One of the famous Mckeever All American  twins, his brother Mike died tragically young during his last season in 60, McKay’s first.  Both are members of college football hall of  fame.  Both played both ways. The McKeevers Inn would later be where McKay had his own table and would do X’s and O’s on napkins.   Marlin went on playing both ways in the pros.  He caught key passes from Bill Nelson in the 17-6 USC 1960 win over the Bruins that saved Coach McKay’s job and thus allowed the dynasty to begin.  Played both tight end and linebacker in pros.


            Some may disagree, but  I  base this on what players gave USC and no one gave more of himself..  When he couldn’t play he went out and recruited future all Americans. This guy bled cardinal and gold.  He is a true Trojan.  He had great hands and at one time good speed.  Back injury held him back a season but this season, despite slowed by hamstring,  he caught clutch 3rd down passes when it seemed tight ends were all we had healthy and was a mainstay blocker.  Even with bad wheels had 50 yard catch and run against OSU to seal the game.  Well always be remembered for holding off Birdsong with one arm and asking him if he still thought Matt was overrated.  Should be a coach at USC.


Played with wild bunch team of 69.  Had Jimny Jones as QB but still made clutch catches.  In 69 with clock running out caught pass at 17 yard line to set up one of most dramatic field goal in USC history (see Ayala below).


One of the most reliable receivers at the position.  Tight end star on 74 NC team.  His agility came from doubling as a beach volleyball player.


            A blocker and catcher on team that saw Marcus Allen set records.  Robinson created the H-back.  A second tight end who would go in motion, and might reverse, to lead the ball carrier, or decoy.

            Other stars included Paul Green and John Allred in l988 .  John Thomas in 60’s and Joe Comier stood out in early 80’s and in 81 Fred Cornwall was remembered for one catch.  It beat OU.  Triva question:  Who threw the pass.  Win a Big Mac.

            Special tribute to Kori Dickerson who unfortunately had only one year at the position.  His 2001 catch and run against the Bruins is a memorable film highlight.

            Byrd in a year could replace Young.


            This and defensives backs  and linebackers are the hardest.  Too many great ones.  I am not bothering to separate guards and tackles, right or left.  Center is  separated.

            FIRST RON YARY

            Arrived as a def tackle.  McKay, like Carroll, knew better, and switched him to offense.  The rest is history. USC’s  only Outland trophy winner.  Key blocker to 67 championship team.  Once my car was stalled on Figuora.  He pushed it by himself until it started.  Those poor sleds.


            There are better that played here, but this over-achiever worked hard and was a stalwart contributor to Return to Glory.  As he didn’t give up sacs he helped Carson win Heisman and Matt mature into the greatest QB.  His contributions, the main category, take him to this spot over clearly superior players.    


Maybe the best of them all.  He flattened college players the way Keith Byers did high school kids.  Did not play on great teams and that is all that drops him to 3rd.

            FOURTH RON MIX

            Had to play both ways, so was an iron man.  Not nearly as good on defense as he was on offense.  USC would run a lot of tailback s in 59 and they all gained yards.  Hall of  famer as Pro. 59 Trojans were 8-0 and No.2 until upset last two games.  Was a running team that used a lot of different backs.  Team average was something like 7 yards a carry.  On long side of him were McKeever twins.


            When Anthony Munoz went down at beginning of  79 season this freshman took over and nothing changed.  A star for four seasons.


If he had played his senior year he probably would be No. 1.  After missing season he returned in RB against undefeated Ohio State.  The offensive line dominated on an 83 yard winning drive with less than 2 minutes, every play a run.  A dedicated Trojan his son, an All American, opted for Tennessee.  Thanks Hackett.


Played alongside Munoz and Moosebar.  Now you understand that last drive against Ohio State and why White won the Heisman and USC was the true one and only in 78 and 79.  To understand better this golden era of OL there was Keith Van Horne, Chirs Foote and Roy Foster.   Budde is only USC Lombardi award and is in CF hall of fame.


            A star on USC 72 Dream team.  UCLA had a great team that year , too.  After USC blew them away, the Bruin Coach Pepper Rogers was asked what the turning point in the game was and answered, “When USC recruited its offensive line.


            Started every game for 4 years and twice All American.


  Get out of the way Buckeyes.  Here comes Charlie running over fallen bodies.


One of  the best run blockers on that incredible 79 line.  All American in 81 blockking for Marcus’s Heisman run.

            From here it is anyone’s choice as it seemed USC had at least one super stud ever year.  Roy Foster, Steve Smith, John Grant, Mike Scarpace (played with Yary and his hustle 50 yards down field allowed him to recover McCulloch’s fumble after long run on a reverse while the other four around wore baby blue) Marvin Powell, Pat Howell, Steve Reilly. Bill Fisk  (best on 62 to 64 teams), Marv Marinovich (both ways in 62) Btuce Matthews (who maybe should be in top ten), Steve Riley, Otis Page, Dave Cadigan,  Mike Taylor, Steve Lehmer,  Chuck Arrobio, Donnie Hickman, Alana Graf  and Mike Ryan( both members of 72 dream team) Booker Brown, Fred Khasigiian., Trvais Hannah. Steve Knutson, Bill Bain, Travis Claridge, Bob McCAffery  (last 3 teammates on 74 NC team) John Vella. Booker Brown, and Marv Montgomery.  Despite his career cut short by injury his senior year Mike McKeever made the college football hall of fame with his brother. Played both ways.   Any of these guys could move to top ten. The differences are minute.

Recent addition to this honor list: John Drake.  Only pizzas and cookies kept him from being a No. 1 pick.  But John was star on back to back, and one could see the difference when he was out injured.   Came back his senior year from high ankle injury to kick some Sooner butt.

Most  recent memories are Lenny Vandermade  and Zach Wilson.  Return to Glory.

While I never saw him play, I saw a lot of him growing up on TV.  No…not John Wayne (he didn’t letter), but his side kick Ward Bond. 1928-1930.



Star of 72 dream team.  See Pete Adams for Pepper Rogers comment.


            May be only center to make All American.  And did this not playing on the 80’s better team.  May have been best center talent wise to play.


Another of the 79 studs.  Over  looked  due to his linemates, Robinson knew the job he did.


            What can you say.  He wasn’t exactly over recruited  but when  Coach Davis arrived so did Norm.  You might think of him as the “center” of the return to Glory.  Anchored an offensive line of freashmen and misfits who became for two years one of the best in USC history.  A high over achiever who wanted it bad.  A tributer to Palmer-Lieneart careers.


            Tough center on exciting 87-89 teams.



Frank never missed when seconds only on board.  He beat UCLA with a 38-yard game winner with 2 second left.  He won a NC with 2 seconds left  on a 37-yarder also with 2 seconds left to beat Notre Dame in last game in 78.  To help preserve that title he hit one on the last play of the first half against Michigan in Rose Bowl.


Some may disagree, but this is about what they did.  What they contributed.  Sometimes maligned, he cost us one against WSU in 2002.  He had a slump that almost benched him in 2004.  Then he became possessed by a kicking devil.  Two against ND, Five that beat the Bruins and put USC in NC game, and then 2 more to add to Sooner misery.  Ryan was also the best weapon USC ever had in kickoffs consistently going deep.  His kick-offs, and there were a lot of them were a great contribution to the OU shutdown.


            Probably not the greatest leg, but consistent.  His position here is based on one moment.  USC vs. Stanford.  Wild Bunch  vs Plunkett.  Plunkett seemed the winner with an almost end of game TD to college great Randy Vataha.   No times out were left, but this was the only way it could be for Jimmie Jones to complete a pass.  If it was not the last drive and USC losing, Jones was lucky to complete a hand off.  But now Golden Arm took  USC to 17 yard line.  The last pass stopped the clock for the chains but the field goal team had to run on the field and get in position as the last seconds tipped off.  It was more dramatic then turning off the bomb switch in Goldfinger. There the clock got to 007.  Here as Ayala’s leg swung the clock hit 0.00.

            In the parking lot I found some Stanford fans who left less than a minute early celebrating their win.  They wouldn’t believe me the Indians lost  (before western Indians protested…when will Seminoles get some dignity and stop that awful chant at FSU games).  They said I was a typical Trojan fan who couldn’t admit defeat.


THEY were perhaps the two most reliable kickers.  I think I remember one more.  He played for the Raiders but his last kick was a real bomb through some window in Vegas.  I think it housed a few tigers at the time.

Another Jordan, Steve did his chores well in not so glamorous early 80’s.  David Davis, too.



Yeah, I know.  I lied again.  An under classman.  But how could I name someone else with a straight face.  How many punters get a Heisman following?  Who else lost the national punting title for lack of qualifying punts.  Obviously he does not get rusty.  He is great at the inside 20 kicks.  Just ask Mark Bradley.

            I know there are many deserving.  I can’t remember our punter in 69 but he was a boomer.  Someone write in the name..  But to be truthful there is no second place after Malone.  Jim Lucas was good in 74.



            No brainer.  All he did was set the NCAA career record.  Like Bush there was this crowd anticipation.  But he ran unlike Bush.  Arguably he ran as one would want your kicker to run. (unless you had moves like Bush).  He ran straight ahead and looked for the gap the wedge made and go through it with one cut, exploding through it like he did the offensive line.  The hole would be there or it wouldn’t.  He always ran into it full speed totally without fear.


Ok…one more lie doesn’t hurt if you don’t tell.  But can you remember anyone better?  He is already in this position after 2 years.


            One of the fastest of the day Brown beat teams in every way.  One was kickoffs.  He opened a tough road game in 62 NC year taking it to the house.


            He had the talent.  Could have been one of the best if he wanted  to bad enough.  But he didn’t.


            Dangerous every time he got the ball. Too bad no fourth year.


            I probably remember him more with the Rams then I do USC.  But I remember his kickoff TD called back against the Bruins.  Great open field runner who reversed  directions like Gayle Sayers or Reggie Bush.  But not at same speed.  If I remembered him better, he might be higher up.

Don’t remember any others, except Luther Hayes ran one back I think in 58.



What does it matter…I have cheated already with him in kickoffs.  Don’t have to describe him. You all have seen it.  Has great yardage even when fair catches or ball bounces, as punters trade yardage for no return.  But Remember Stanford, OSU, Washington State. Oops, said the punter.


Lynn had such balance he was great for this and took many all the way.  He did so for Pittsburgh until they realized he was too valuable as a receiver to risk injury.


            Mike always got yards on his punt returns and, like Bush’s against Stanford, set up the winning TD in late 4th qt upset of No. 1 ND in 64.  In 65, he was rested for punt returns, as from scrimmage ala Bush was used as decoy, against Cal so he ran two back  All….The…..Way.  His second was a magician act.  He should have fair catched it  as he was surrounded by ¾ of the Bears defenders.  When he caught it they jumped on him like he was the ball in a Rugby scrimmage.  Somehow he got out, probably between some legs (Iron Mike was only 5-9) and trotted to the end zone.  Boos and cheers came from the Cal rooters.  One student explained it after the game.  “The boos were for the Bear team, the cheers were for Mike.


How does a thin wiry guy who runs in slow motion return punts for TD’s.  Battle had his own way.  When the guy lowered his head to cream him Battle did not slow down but instead hurdled him.  That’s right.  Hurdle. McKay said he wouldn’t do it…what if the guy’s helmet came up?

Paled around with Joe Namath on the Jets (hope that name dropping didn’t cost me a prize) and returned one all the way with a hurdle in his brief career.  The NY fans went wild when they saw it.  Why did Broadway Joe like him.  Because he was crazy.


Another guy who could win a game on a return.


Actually I have no memory of him returning punts, but I imagine he must have.  And if he did I know he was great.

A special mention to that Palisades kid still on the team.  Only dropped one in 3 years and caught under a lot of pressure times.  Had two Mike Battle speed runs in 2002 against ND and Iowa.  Contributor to Return to Glory.  But I am prejudice.  I live in Palisades.  And I doubt that Cal receiver was a local.



I know you all thought I would cheat and say Bush.  But Brown has an edge.  He played D-back, too, and was one of the best in USC history.  Most interceptions those years were by Brown and QB-safety Beathard.  If Carroll wants him to win BAAP he could make Bush a 3rd down blitzer.  He did it with Frank Strong.   As a freshman remember Reggie recovered one of two WSU hikes over the punter’s head.  Bush might win it in the end anyway.  Brown didn’t throw touchdown passes.

That’s it.  It  is very late and I am going to sleep.  After I read everyone who says I was wrong and doing crack when I wrote this I will do the defensive team.  All though having read this, I don’t expect a lot of repeat readers.           

            On the other hand , while this only March I expect to win the l995  Tommy Trojan Award Statue for best post  by a guy who has lived long enough to remember games in the 50’s.

         Don’t worry this won’t be too long. I am warn out doing offense, and you can’t write too much about a defensive player without sounding like an NFL scout (“Quick feet,…Can’t block him….uses hands too much…. relies on Spin….eats too many cookies.”).


         Don’t worry this won’t be too long. I am warn out doing offense, and you can’t write too much about a defensive player without sounding like an NFL scout (“Quick feet,…Can’t block him….uses hands too much…. relies on Spin….eats too many cookies.”).

For those who thought I didn’t pick the best player as No.1 when doing offense,  remember that was a factor  not the sole basis of selection. My preamble:

        “In doing this I am not rating who was the best player.  Pro careers were not considered.  Just what they contributed to USC.  By that criteria guys who played 4 years have advantage over those that played one, etc..  This is little unfair to JC transfers and to those who could not play when they were freshmen.”


Starting here because I feel more comfortable.


        This is an easy choice.   In the McKay era, he played 5 up front with 2 LB and a rover who choose to be a 3rd LB or DB after he saw the formation (Troy P. had this freedom too under Carroll).   Gunn and Charles Weaver members of the linebackers were a new breed at the time.  Part of McKay’s genius.  They were built like big linebackers but played defensive end (ala Rivers this year at times).  They were faster then most opposing teams running backs and on sweeps could come around from behind and catch them before cut up field.   Also there was some identity confusion because they could play like linebackers at time shifting to 3DL and 4lb.  These McKay type Defensive ends all played linebacker in the pros.

        Gunn was the first as a sophomore in l967.   Then on opposite side was Tim Rossovich a senior All American who was the more convential type.  Big, strong  and nasty to Qb’s. 

        But It was Jimmy who to this day deserves the Trojan all time Blood and Guts award.  Every one knows about OJ’s winning run for NC over Beban Bruins.  But forgotten in lore was another hero.   UCLA outplayed USC that day for 3 quarters.  One of the reasons was that Gunn tore ligaments in the first quarter and was on the bench replaced by 6-9 Bill Hayhoe.  And QB Steve Sogge got knocked out of the game in the 2nd half. What kept USC in the game was an interception for TD by Pat Cashman and a long reverse of 50-some yards by Earl McCullouch.  O.J. was stopped most of the day.  USC”S defense however made stops when time and time again Beban drove them into USC territory.  UCLA’s soccer style kicker (doubt I spell this right) Andrusyhsan, one of the best, if not the best, in the land,  missed three times trying to clear Bill Hayhoe.  Bill blocked one.  After the last TD the kicker added a missed extra point.  That would decide the NC championship.  

          With Sogge out it didn’t look good and then with about 8 minutes left  on 3rd and long QB Toby Page audibilized to a draw and the famous run.  21-20 but plenty of time for Beban.  While everyone cheered, Jimmy Gunn walked up to Coach McKay and said put him back in, torn ligaments and all. He promised McKay he would get him.  McKay put him in and Jimmy kept his promise.  Three times he sacked Gary Beban.  The USC OL now dominated a smaller and worn out Bruin D  line and USC OJ led a clock run out drive, with Page adding on keepers.  With a minute left the game was won, but then Toby fumbled (ala Bush this year) and everyone remember 65.  (Then USC had 11 point lead and the ball and was running out the clock with Garrett. Troy Winslow fumbled.  Then Beban through a TD bomb on first play.  UCLA recovered onside kick and Beban won game on second bomb).  This time, 67, there would be no bomb.  On first Play Beban was dropped for a huge loss and the game was over.  The man who got him, Jimmy Gunn, his 4th sack in the last 7 ½ minutes, playing on one leg.

        Today his image is bronzed with 69 Wild Bunch statue outside Heritage Hall.  Look at him the next time you pass by.  He was the best.  Surgery kept him out of 68 Rose Bowl, but he played in 69 and 70 RB.  In the last one Wild Bunch held Michigan to 3 points.


        Not much have to say.  You saw it all.  Probably the best player and might have been No. 1 if he stayed 4th year and gave us 4 years of  Wild Bunch 2 with Patterson and Cody and Oziel.  As a junior Udeze led nation in sacks.  Significant contributor to Return to Glory.   No one played both run and rush QB like he could.  Amazing ability to move down the line and get the runner.  Also amazing ability to get his sacks when needed the most to end a threatening drive.  Thrived on 3rd downs.


        Was a terror on 67 team.  Played DE and LB in pros.  Rossovich described his pass rushed as holding his arms high to make it difficult to pass, while trying to run through the QB.  He was about 6-5.  Great run stopper as well.  Famous on campus for odd ball.  He could give a Goux like stare, but was a gentle guy behind the glass.  He liked to show off eating strange things like fire or glass or QB’s.  One of  four all Americans in 67, Young, OJ and Yary rounding out and one of four first Round picks.


        McKay continued the Gunn mold with players like  Weaver and Willie Hall. Sims was probably the lightest of all, but the fastest.  Was a sack master on 72 dream team that had a defense second to Wild Bunch  in the McKay era.  People remember 72 dream team offense, But 7 opponents were held to 10 points are less.


        The twin bookend to Gunn on the Wild Bunch.  As fast and hit harder.  Made the famous hit on UCLA Dennis Dummit in 69 that lifted him into the air and yards backwards.  It stopped the game.  To Dennis’s credit he came back and through a TD at end of game that appeared to give UCLA  a 12-7 victory.  There were few seconds left  in the game but as I said on other post, this was the only time Jimmy Jones could complete a pass.  After a 4th down pass interference call on a Bruin defender on a clearly overthrown ball, Jones hit  Sam Dickerson in Dickerson’s corner (West-North) for TD.


        Marlin made the top ten as both TE and  DE,.  One of  the famous legendary McKeever twins, played out senior year after his brother Mike died.  Was all over the field both on offense and defense in 60 game that saved McKay’s job.  The year before Billy Kilmer (Washington Redskins) led the 10-3 upset of unbeaten Troy).  Now the Bruins were heavily favored over injury-riddled Trojans. McKay was expected to get the axe after the game.  What McKay did, who may have been more defensive genius than offense for which he is remembered, was flip McKeever  to which every side the Bruin single wing favored.  After Kilmer were be eating dirt, the head cheerleader would scream, “Who killed Kilmer” and the student body would scream, “McKeever killed Kilmer.”  Played TE and Lb for Rams in long pro career.


Over shadowed by BKU. Omar teamed up with BKU to make the best pair of ends since Gunn-Weaver.   BKU had a knack for being in right place and making plays like Groots.  Was emotional player, team leader and gave 110%.   His last year he was supposedly out for season with hand injury.  But he taped it and returned to put the heat on WSU then the big game in 2003.  He reinjured the had that day but returned again (by begging Carroll) for one more game against Michigan in RB where he once again made big plays in limited action.  Great Trojan.


Played opposite Sims on 72 dream team.  Another McKay mold fast but not big.  Amazing nose for the ball.  Played on two NC teams, 72-74.


        This is impossible.   Too many great ones.  Penn State was known as LB U but USC was and is right up with them, or surpassed.  I have  two categories middle and outside.  Also some years USC  played 4 with 2 inside backers.  They are counted here.


        Richard Wood was a rare steal  from out of  New Jersey that never produced a star for Troy until Jarrett this year.  Stolen from Penn State itself.  Wood today I believe remains the only 3-time All American.  Starting as a soph he was the leader of the USC dream 72 team.  Amazing speed took him  from sideline to sideline.  As a senior played on his second NC team in 74.  If there is another Batman it will be Rivers.


One of most dominating defensive player in USC history, if not the most. Offensive coaches would  try to come up with game plans not be beaten because of him, but none stopped him.  It helped that playing along side was another All American LB Duane Bickett.  Together that led a not so strong offense to the Rose Bowl in 84 and on NY’s day stuffed the Heisman Trophy winner from OSU and won the game.


        Lofa, as he preferred being called, was driven it seemed to pass his father’s great name and accomplishments.  I think having done that in college, he left early for the pro’s with the goal of over taking him.  Nobody had heard of him.  Carroll looked at film of his freshman year play at Maine after his father called and took him based on the film and Trojan genes.  When Lua was hurt, Lofa found himself the replacement for Pollard in 2003.  He played his first game at Auburn like he was fifth year senior.  From the start he brought amazing instincts to read the play and get to the ball.  In two years only 2 backs got over 100 yards.  His showcase game was OB where he read OU plays consistently, barking out orders that moved defenders to right position.  No one who played this position could timely drop back and cover middle passing lanes.  This resulted in many key interceptions.  The Rose Bowl and UCLA stand out.  His deep drop made Cal QB miss on 4th down over middle attempt.  He matched Woods 2 NC.  If he had returned for senior year might have won Butkus award and with 3 NC would have challenged Wood for best ever.


        Who? You ask. A 5-11, 190 pound guy who played  center and linebacker on  62 NC team.  The leader of the Red unit, an All American,  he is probably most comparable to Groots.  The main reason opponents only got  a combined total of 55 points all year.  Hell, USC gets that much playing one BCS game.


Arguably alongside Del Rio the best to player.  But he played only 2 years at USC, and as a soph  didn’t start.  His junior year may have been the best single season performance.  Went on to an incredible pro career., but that doesn’t count in this criteria.


Came all the way from Georgia..  230 pounds of speed and power.  Also played Outside LB where he rushed even as frosh on 78 NC team.  As a senior was defensive star while Marcus won Heisman.  Lot of interceptions, some taken to the house.



The only Butkus award winner, he accomplished this on weak Hackett teams.  Had 6 interceptions in l998, some for TD’s.  Could make unbelievable plays.  But sometimes missed tackles as it seemed at times was not every down player.  Some may argue that, but I saw in 98 UCLA’s frosh running back go right by him to TD.  Saw other plays that he lunged as if tired.  To his credit, he was a star of a weak defense and probably had to much pressure to make all the stops.


        Always played his best against Bruins, and said USC should never lose to UCLA, a prophecy not reached until the arrival of Pete Carroll.  His first two Bruin games were UCLA upsets, but got the last one in 67.  Spirited player.  All Trojan.  After UCLA 51-0 win at Coliseum no one gave Troy a chance in return match in 67 at South Bend where Troy had not won since 1939.  USC by now had wised up and moved this road game to October to avoid playing in the snow.  Led by OJ USC upset the Irish that day 24-7, scoring last 24 points on the way to NC.  Norte Dames Terry Hanratty was All American and would be paid a $200,000 bonus to New York Jets, the same year they paid  Joe Willie an unheard of $400,000.  But this day Adrian Young picked off a record 4 interceptions thrown by Hanratty as he tried to duck Rossovich and Gunn.  This was more than any Irish receiver caught, including All American Jim Seymour, who was corresponding with a USC coed he met after the 61 game in L.A.  Remember Notre Dame did not have female students back then and the girls of nearby St. Mary’s looked liked the ones in the Bing Crosby movie.


        He and his brother Bruce would top NFL longest career records. Played in pros from 78 to 96. But that doesn’t count here. A frosh played on 74 NC team and 76 team that was best in country at season’s end (ala 2002 Trojans).


All American in 79 he led defense on great 78=79 Pau;l McDonald teams that  were the best in the nation (sorry Bear Bryant).  Came all the way from Flint, Michigan.  He was raised there  while the auto makers were still there and before Roger and Me made Flint famous for Ms. America and visits from Pat Boone.


 All American Scott Ross  played on great defense in Rodney Peete years that beat Troy Aikman twice and almost won NC.

Marcus Steele gets a mention. So does Steve Busick  and Ricki Gray


        There are not so many to be listed as middle Lb.  Part of the reason is that during McKay era they were called DE although at times played like OB.


   Yes not fast, only 205 but had Troy P closing speed.  Troy himself declared Groots the better player.  Both were human turn over machines.  If there were statistics for turnovers  (Its, fumbles recovered and fumbles forced) this man would hold NCAA record.  A four year started and a leader in Return to Glory.  Missed part of  freshman year with broken leg.  As a sophomore led team in tackles, sacks, and tackles behind the line of scrimmage. And this on a team that had Cody, Patterson and BKU.  His junior year in reality was cut short by a Stanford cheap shot.  Was in a few plays in RB but mainly dropped back in pass defense.  The injury effected this year.  He compensated with interceptions, amazing instincts like that dive for bounced ball in second pick against BYU.  But he was still not the same as a sophomore.  Then, suddenly he was, but only better.  Groots was back, causing fumbles, recovering fumbles, a human heat seeking missile.  Saved his best game for last, bringing Peterson down on the spot every time they met.  Two plays to remember before the end of the second half in OB.  On second down White threw to Peterson on the flat who carried to within one yard of a first down.  He was still struggling for it despite three hits, one from Lofa, when a torpedo knocked him backwards.  Groots of course. Significance of the play?  OU had to now on 3rd down try to run up the middle to pick up the yard. The back slipped and the handoff was fumbled.  Guess who recovered it.


        Hard to believe USC had two All  American linebackers in 84.  Bickett and Del Rio.  But these two put a so-so Trojan team in the RB where it  whipped OSU.  Bickett that year was named Pac 10 defensive player of the year over Del Rio.  Played some inside linebacker as well.


        Unfortunately played on 70 and 71 underachievers, and graduated just before 72.  Still part of 70 team that desegregated the South.  Six year pro career and played in Super Bowl.


        The Browners were an Irish clan until Joey wised the family up in 79.  Keith followed a year later.  Both were tremendous.  Unfortunately the clan last seen moved up North to OSU.  Hopefully they will come back.


        Another of the great 84 linebackers, played then as frosh, and star on 87  upset of Troy Aickman.  What a  name for a linebacker. 


Another in the Gunn–Weaver mold. Incredibly strong and fast and could toss a QB to the ground.   Did not play on great teams and had too much pressure on him. On 3rd and long fans would think “Come on, Willie.”  In contrast, this year, it could be anyone that gets him.  Also made it easier for teams to focus on him.  For these reasons he was better in pros.

        Others include Sam Anno, Charles Anthony (72 dream team), Mark Cusano, Zeke Moreno.  Melvin Simmons had the sense to move South and be part of Return to Glory.  Eric Scroggins and Brian Williams  and Eric Williams were great, too.

Though I never saw him play I did know him later, a two-way center-linebacker in early 50’s named Marv Goux.


Different alignments, different years make this a hard group.  I am using nose guard and tackles as separate categories, although some years there were no official NG.  The list here is shorter as I am wearing out and I have to save for myself for impossible task of rating safeties.



        Officially listed this year I believe as a tackle, to me he played like a NG.  He plugged the middle of the line and no center could block him, causing the need for double teams which was just fine for LBs.  Four year starter and key to Return to Glory.  Two time back to back NC.  If I didn’t put him at NG he would be fighting Cody for No. 1 tackle and I would never decide between them.  Patterson saved the season with  one of the greatest games ever by a tackle in the Cal game.  Penchant for recovering fumbles that he stripped.  Had  unlimited number of pressures to go along with sacks.  Pressured White toss the floater that Leach grabbed  in OB.  White never saw the IT as he was ran over by a  speeding train as he let go of the ball in self defense, hoping Mike would then give him mercy.  We all saw him.  There is really no close second.  Dedicated ball player.  Wild Bunch 2.  True Trojan find.  And to think, Coach O had to convince Carroll to take him.


Four year player and all conference three years.  Blocked the field goal on game’s last play in 81 to give Troy win over Bruins.  Lombardi runnerup.


   A big star for four years, led the interior line on the 78 Nat. Champ team that swallowed up Alabama’s all American runner down in Bear country.


Silent man but steady leader of the Wild Bunch.  Plugged the middle like Patterson but not as fast.  Dedicated player.  Few years ago I digging out a closet I find a story I wrote for Pigskin Review on the Wild Bunch (I was the one who came up with the idea of the photo in Western gear on the Coliseum turf, but McKay, not happy ND came from behind to tie us 14-14 in SB would not give me permission for the picture to go with article.  I mentioned it to Steve Harvey of the now defunct Herald Evening News who in turn mentioned it to Trojan fan and writer Bud Furrilo.  Furillo later asked  McKay for permission, after a win, and got it).  The same day I found the article in my closet I read in the paper Bubba had passed.  I sent the magazine to his family.


Ralph was middle guard on 67  National Chanps that had great defense.  How quick was he? Went on to play linebacker for Raiders


        Part of USC defense that  stopped Archie Griffin, ala snuffing Adrian Peterson..

Don Gibson deserves mention as does Ty Sperling.



        Enough said.  Don’t we love that expression since hearing Keith Jackson use it.  What can you about the guy who probably deserves to take away the title “Noblest Trojan of them All” from some guy named Morley Drury.  He came when everyone said he was crazy too.  Had the brains to believe Carroll could do it.  Seemed like he was faster as a frosh, but was lighter than, and had to rebound from bad injury his sophomore year.  Not only started as frosh but defense best player and that brought in other 5 stars.

Probably the key to Return to Glory and definite star of back to back.  Like Patterson, had to be doubled team, which opened it for lbs.  Like Patterson, wasn’t just sacks, but rushes that led to ITs. Even when completing passes, hits from Patterson, Cody and BKU wore down opposing QB’s.  You could see as the game won on the Qb’s throwing the ball quicker and too soon to avoid the pain.


        Woody Hayes not only let this guy get away from Ohio but he watched him make big plays in Rose Bowl to beat Buckeyes as a frosh. In senior year part of great 76 team that was best at end of the season.  Four year player.  11 year pro career.  Fifth overall pick.


        Unfortunately he had injury during his senior year, McKay’s first.  Defensively  up until then he was rated above his brother Marlin.  Would have been outstanding pro. The Twins put USC on the map in 59.  Died in 69 after long coma from accident. Member of College Football Hall of Fame.


Star of defense on great Rodney Peete teams in 88 and a star again in 89.  These two teams were great defensively, with Junior Seau and Mark Carrier.   During career USC 34-13-1..


        When he met OJ in San Francisco OJ wooed his girl friend away and married her, somehow wooing Al into his life long friend who would be with him down to a lonely freeway drive.  OJ told McKay to bring Al here and McKay on that advice brought him in at 68 and he shored up a defense weakened by graduation.  By 69 they were weak no more and McKay had to thank the departed OJ.  With the arrival of the late Tody Smith, brother of famous Bubba Smith (“throw the ball you cowards), he was the All American on the interior Wild Bunch line.  Gunn, Cowlings, Scott, Smith and Weaver.

        OJ did the same thing in Buffalo, get Al Cowlings, and they used their First Round pick to do it.  Played pro for 9 years.  After that he followed OJ to the First and Ten series on HBO.   I have been fortunate enough to know this man in College and to have the luck of running into him about 15 times.  Truly a great guy.  I ran into him sitting outside alone at a coffee shop about a week after the Big Chase.  He was sad looking and those around him stared but afraid to speak.  I walked up and said, “So Al, anything new and interesting lately?”  While the tension in the shop turned to laughter Al smiled and hugged me.  No, I never asked him.  I knew his pain and I wasn’t going to go that.   Have not seen him now in a few years, believe he and OJ have gone that separate ways, but Al if you somehow get this, I miss bumping into you.


May have been most gifted of all.  Like Mike Williams was recruited after film of his stuffing a basketball.  Immediate starter, but took downs off.  Robinson told him to go pro after junior year and high pick.  Started with Raiders, but career went the way of Todd and RJ


        Star interior lineman on 72 dream team and key to great defense.   Was an over achiever who gave 100 percent.  Only 7th round pick but played in a Super Bowl.


The star lineman on Rodney Pete teams.  A four year player.


        Star on 74 NC team.  Against Griffin an start studded Buckeye offense, maybe the best in OSU history (remember Greene and that huge fullback) Riley played as good a game as any  Trojan in  history, setting up USC’s dramatic comeback for NC.  Watch him on the game tape.

Othea Bradely and Dennis Edwards get mention.  So does Bernard Riley for filling in for Cody in 2002  Return to Glory (I have a border collie named Glory)

           I am getting very tired.


        I have dreaded reaching this moment.  How do you do safeties.  It is like ranking the 10 best ever to play the game.  USC is tailback U, linebacker U and most of all, Saftey U.  And to think Carroll wants it to be Cornerback U.

        How about as all-time secondary  pick Steve Fate,  Marvin Cobb, Artemus Parker and Charles Phillips.  If you do, remember they all played on 72 dream team which had 28 interceptions.   Or try Phillips, Cobb, Dennis Thurman. Ron Bush (no relation) and Danny Reece in 74 (how did anyone complete a pass that year against Troy….answer not many….maybe slightly more than they caught combined…key to shut down of ND and OSU).  Team had  29 ITs, school record.  Or Lott, Smith and Fisher (boo) in 80.  By the way in Hackettt’s last year USC  only had 7 interceptions, a feat only outdone only by 6 in 57.  The next year, Carroll’s D got 20.

        I separated out Rovers, the position in McKay years.  While not too different than strong safety they were given freedom to roam and choose on their own where to line up.  Some Strong Safeties fit this mold and thus were placed here.  The other safties are listed here.



        Member of 72  Dream team and  All American.  Holds career record 20 ITs.


        A member of 74 NC he was a hard hitter and great at IT.  Took over for graduated Parker and there was no drop. He is second  career total IT with 18.  Also good punt returner.   These guys are at top and they could not play their freshman years.


Wasted on late 90’s team.  Single handily kept USC in the game vs. FSU.  Frustrated Bowden and his AA receivers.  Unfortunately, he frustrated USC fans too, dropping a sure TD interception with the game tied 7-7 in fourth.  It was only way USC could win.  It had no offense.


4 year starter who came with great expectations. First game ran back IT for TD .  Somehow it seemed like he never lived to hype and many wished he played TB like his Dad did for Rams.  Hard to be up though in the dark ages.  USC never beat UCLA during his career. Good pro.  Ten career picks.


Started 72-74 NC teams.  10 career picks.  Watch his punt return in 2nd half of ND 74 comeback.


Imagine you are undefeated but playing Iowa which held the No.1 position much of prior year and it is back there in the cold.  Ron Heller of the Green unit runs 25 yards for a TD.  It is 7-0 but Iowa is moving on his last ditch drive.  USC stiffens and its 4th and 8.  The Iowa  OB hits his back but before he can move an inch, Willie Brown comes out of nowhere and delivers a blow that knocks him backwards.  Out come the chains.  He was one inch short and USC wins first NC since 30’s.  Or the Rose Bowl.  Every one remembers it was 42-14 going into the fourth when Ron Vanderkelen goes beserk. Time runs out on Wisconsin 42-37.  But here is something that most do not know.  There was another Badger drive in the series seemingly headed for the end zone.  But Brown picked it off in the end zone.


Remembered mostly as a running QB, and member of NC baseball team, Willie ruled the secondary in the days of two-ways. Enough that it got Vince Lombardie’s attention. The rest is history (don’t you love clichés).  NFL Hall of Famer.


10 career picks.  As sophomore picked ND after Sherman’s TD pass in upset of ND in 64 to seal victory.  Unfortunately most remembered as guy who was beaten by Kurt Altenburg for Bruin upset in 65.


        Took over when Shaw graduated.  Pat put it this way, “Nate fell down, I caught the ball.”  In 67 it was all UCLA until Beban made the mistake of throwing back across his body.  Pat took it to he house to tie the game at 7-7, the most memorable pick in USC’s history and part of the greatest college game ever played.  His son played tight end, and was a good, at USC.


Another one who slipped the Irish to star for Troy.


        Only reason he is at this number is played just one year.  But he played as good as any d-back, maybe best.  Key interceptions and key hits.  Shut down corner.  By  passed pros for one year under Carroll.  We love you, Will.

        Mention goes to Antoine Simmons who came back from illness to around your legs, see it  now you don’t TD vs Bruins in 2001.  Ron Bush was good and Daryl Rideaux had great senior year.  Bill Jaroncyk was good in 60’s.  As much as it hurts, there has to be mention of Jeff Fisher, even though his tip of  pass could have been caught but instead went to a Bruin who scored and gave victory.  If that wasn’t enough, he played better in the pros then he did USC, became an outstanding coach who then plucked Chow from Troy. Larry Braziel was good as was Carter Hertwig and Jason Oliver (11 picks).



No. 6 all time with 13 interceptions, played on 72 and 74 NC.  When Phillips got the ball either by fumble (two for TDs I think in same game) or IT it usually meant touchdown.  When he hit someone they dropped the pass.  If they caught it first, then they fumbled.  Also had the knack for falling on fumbles.  There will be some they say Trop P., but Troy as great as he was really didn’t have senior year.  This guy won two NC.  Before you curse the choice watch the 2nd half of the 74 USC ND game.  He is everywhere.  Made a great Raider and played in SB XI.  He holds the school record in defense return yards of 365.


While played Strong safety, he was a true Rover, given more freedom perhaps than any player in USC history.  Sometimes a D back, sometimes a LB.   Could strip the ball like no one else.  He and Phillips were unstoppable once they had the pigskin.  I believe Troy would have been AA running back, he possessed such explosion and power.  Will probably be the new proto type in NFL.  Nothing much to say.  You all saw him play. 

But just think, if he had not dropped that clear TD vs. KS and Ryan made his extra point vs WSU we might now be looking at 4 in a row.


Had misfortune of  playing in 90’s..  But what a player.  One USC coach called him the best defensive player he saw at USC.  Played a little D-back, a little linebacker, but was a true Rover.  Came to USC after tailback brother  Ryan played. Ryan’s claim to fame was that because he chose USC, Gaston Greene chose UCLA.


Star in 72 dream defense.  All over the field.  This truly was the greatest team in college football history.


Goux  called him Wolfman after seeing him in the shower one day, hairy back and front.  Imagine a  wolfman named Rover.  Bet he liked night games under the full Moon. .  Probably McKay’s first star at this position in 66.


 Got 10 picks after King left.


Really played it only his senior year, but that was in 67.  Great day in 68 RB when defense raped Cinderella Indiana, holding the Big Ten team to 3-points.  Indiana has refused to come back to the Rose Bowl ever since.


How do you choose between Ronnie Lott, Dennis Smith, Dennis Thurman, Tim McDonald and Mark Carrier.  Answer:  It can’t be done.  Someone else do it.  I  did Rover section just to get Phillips and Troy P. out of here.  We are talking best of all time, not just USC.  Actually, I might have picked but I am too tired.

Lott is legend and played on 78 and 79 teams..  14 picks and countless bouncing heads I am sure he is the pick of most.  But teammate Dennis grabbed 16 out of the air.  Thurman had  13 including two fumble in air returns.  McDonald did same all though his total was 13.  Mark Carrier had 13 highlighted by those two against the Bruins as a frosh in great 87 upset of Bruins.  His hard hits caused a few drops that day, too.  Unfortunately left a year early.

A second tier includes Sandy Durko who backed up Wild Bunch, Ron Ayala with 11 picks, Cleveland Coulter, an All American safety teammate of Carrier and Mike Battle who snatched 13 despite not particular fast.  Battle was amazing whether it was hitting, hurdling or defending.  He believed he was the best. And up until he graduated he was. Included at this level is Jason Leach. Return to Glory, Baby.  Poor Iowa . Michigan and OU.  Big plays in all 3.

De Shaun Hill had great senior year.  Look out, here comes Wyatt and Wright.  The latter if he stays may move to No. 1.

And no one should forget the safety play of Pete Beathard

Best kickoff  “Web” breaker.  You are dumb if you miss this one.  Lee “Webb” of course.