This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
This is not the easiest of topic to write about. There have been so many great Trojan players that when compiling any list you are bound to leave someone off. Some of the players listed will be obvious...their place in firmly cemented in the Trojan Lore. Others may be obscure to some and will be for sentimental reasons, reminding me of the days that I went to games with my dad.
So here they are...in no particular order.
Anthony Davis - While we all know Davis' talents on the football field he was also just as talented on the baseball diamond. Davis played outfield on USC’s 1973 and 1974 College World Series champion baseball teams. Davis hit .273 with 6 home runs, 45 RBIs and 13 stolen bases for the Trojan’s 1974 National Championship Baseball team...and he did it with wood bats!
Pat Haden - Probably the best known QB in all of of SC's history. Rhodes Scholar, JD and successful businessman. Haden has continued to represent USC in the highest possible manner even as a commentator for Notre Dame football on NBC. Haden is so well respected that he has been rumored to possibly be the next AD at USC when current AD Mike Garrett departs.
O.J. Simpson - No list is complete without O.J. Simpson. His personal life and despicable crimes aside, O.J. will always be a respected athlete in the eyes of many Trojans. His performance in the 1967 UCLA game is one for the ages. His 64 yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter tied the game, with the PAT the margin of victory. This was the biggest play in what is regarded as one of the greatest football games of the 20th century.
Chris Limahelu - One of the first names I remember as a kid growing up when I attended my first few games at the Coliseum. As a junior in the 1973 season, Limahelu set two Trojan records: He was successful in 14 of his 18 field goal attempts, six more than any previous Trojan kicker in a season, and in the 1974 Rose Bowl against Ohio State, he kicked both a 42-yard and a 47-yard field goal, both of these being his longest kicks to date, and the 47-yard field goal becoming at that time, the longest field goal ever by a Trojan place kicker, breaking a 64-year-old record. He was also successful in completing 31 of 34 PAT's overall.
Shelton Diggs - Another name from my youth! His diving catch on a 2-point conversion with under two minutes left from Pat Haden's low pass in the end zone gave USC an 18-17 victory over Ohio State in the 1975 Rose Bowl.
Mosi Tatupu - Tatupu's key block sprung Anthony Davis for a 102-yard kick-off return that opened the second half at the Coliseum in USC's huge comeback win against Notre Dame in 1974...the game dubbed "that California Earthquake" by Sports Illustrated.
Ricky Bell - Bell led the nation in rushing as a junior in 1975 with 1,875 yards. He was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy as a senior in 1976 to Tony Dorsett after finishing third in the voting in 1975 as a junior. Bell was voted Pac-10 player of the year in 1976. Bell also held the single-game rushing record of 347 yards, set against Washington State in 1976.
Anthony Muñoz - Considered to big for football as a youth, he was barred from the local Pop Warner league team; he instead concentrated on baseball. Muñoz was one of USC's best offensive lineman earning himself the 3# pick in the 1980 NFL Draft. He was so talented that he played both Football and Baseball at USC, pitching for USC’s national championship team in 1978.
Bruce Matthews - A future NFL Hall of Famer, Matthews played every position on the offensive line at both USC and the NFL. As we all know he is the brother of former USC Linebacker Clay Mathews and the uncle of Former USC DL/LB Clay Matthews III.
Marcus Allen - Originally recruited as a defensive back, head coach John Robinson converted Allen to a tailback backing up Charles White. In 1981, Allen had one of the most spectacular seasons in NCAA history, rushing for 2,342 yards, becoming the first player in NCAA history to rush for over 2,000 yards in one season. He also gained a total of 2,683 offensive yards, led the nation in scoring, and won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Award. He was also the Pac-10 Player of the Year. Allen went onto tremendous success in the NFL which led to his induction to pro-football Hall of Fame in 2003.
Ronnie Lott - Lott was a unanimous All-American and team captain in 1980. His style of play earned him a reputation as a ferocious hitter and tackler. The Trophy that bears his name is a tribute to just how much of a special player he was. In 2002, he was inducted as one of 15 new members (I-A class) of the College Football Hall of Fame. He was also a 1995 inductee to the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.
Reggie Bush - Regardless of our current feelings toward Reggie in light of the NCAA recent ruling against USC it is hard to deny that Reggie was very talented and very special player. In 2003, he was a consensus First-team Freshman All-American selection and became the first Trojan since Anthony Davis in 1974 to lead the Pac-10 in kickoff returns. In 2004, Bush was named the team's MVP, earned consensus All-American honors and was a finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. He finished second on the team with 143 carries for 908 yards (6.3 avg) and six touchdowns, adding on 509 yards and seven scores on 43 receptions (11.8 avg). He returned 21 kickoffs for 537 yards (25.6 avg) and 24 punts for 376 yards (15.7 avg) and a pair of touchdowns. He became the first Trojan since Marcus Allen to lead the Pac-10 in all-purpose yardage, totaling 2,330 yards. In 2005 Bush was a unanimous First-team All-American. He was also named the Associated Press College Football Player of the Year, Pigskin Club of Washington D.C. Offensive Player of the Year, and Touchdown Club of Columbus Player of the Year. Bush also won the Walter Camp Award and the Doak Walker Award; which is given to the nation's best running back. He led the nation with an average of 222.3 all-purpose yards per game and finished fourth in the NCAA Division I-A ranks with an average of 133.85 rushing yards per game. He set the Pac-10 record for total yards from scrimmage with 513 (294 rushing, 68 receiving, 151 return) in a game against Fresno State on November 19, 2005.
Matt Leinart - Leinart had a storied USC career backing up Carson Palmer and beating out Matt Cassell in 2003, his sophomore season. His first career pass was a touchdown against Auburn. Leinart would win the first three games of his career before the then-No. 3 Trojans suffered a 34–31 triple-overtime defeat at Cal. Leinart and the Trojans won their final eight games and finished the regular season 11–1 and ranked No. 1 in the AP and coaches' polls. 2004 was a magical season as USC went undefeated and Leinart won USC's sixth Heisman Trophy. 3 weeks later Leinart led USC to win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl 55-19.
Carson Palmer - He was at the helm at the start of the Pete Carroll era. After three underwhelming years at USC, Palmer had a breakout senior year under the tutelage offensive coordinator Norm Chow. Chow's influence helped Palmer win the Heisman Trophy, USC's fifth and the first award won by a USC quarterback. Palmer completed 309 of 489 passes for 3942 yards and 33 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions during the 2002 season, and later led the Trojans to an impressive 38–17 victory over the University of Iowa in the Orange Bowl. His completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns were all USC single season records. In a November 30 game against Notre Dame, Palmer threw for 425 yards and led his team to 610 yards of total offense, the most ever gained against Notre Dame in each category. Palmer left college as the Pac-10 Conference's all-time leader in passing yards (11,818), completions (927) and total offense (11,621), along with 72 career touchdown passes, a USC record at that time.
Charles White - When Charles White came to the USC campus the Trojan running game was in it's heyday of dominance after Mike Garret, O.J. Simpson, Anthony Davis and Ricky Bell all took turns in what was college football's glamour position. By the time he left, he had the most productive career of an Pac 10 running back ever. During White's freshman year, he had to play second fiddle to Ricky Bell who ran for 1,417 yards and 14 touchdowns. Even though Bell finished 4th in the Heisman Trophy voting, White made a name for himself rushing for 858 yards and 10 touchdowns. White made himself a legend in the biggest games ... the Rose Bowls. In the 1977 Rose Bowl, he stepped in for an injured Ricky Bell and ran for 122 yards and a touchdown in a 14-6 win over Michigan. In the 1979 17-10 win over the Wolverines, White ran for 99 yards and an infamous phantom three-yard touchdown dive. In 1980, he saved his best for last tearing off a Rose Bowl record 247 yards with 71 coming on an epic eight play, 83 yard drive with 5:21 to play culminating in a one-yard touchdown run.
Keyshawn Johnson - Key was a two-time All-American selection. After the 1994 college season, Johnson helped lead the USC Trojans to a win in the 1995 Cotton Bowl Classic, after which he was named the game's Most Valuable Player. The Trojans then played in the 1996 Rose Bowl, during which Johnson caught 12 passes for a Rose Bowl record 216 yards and one touchdown in the Trojans' 41–32 victory over the Northwestern Wildcats. He was named the Player of the Game.