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IMHO Sunday: Homegrown, baby

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think.

SoCal draft power: Take a look at the recently completed 2018 NFL draft and the USC Trojans homegrown SoCal talent certainly made the selection highlight reel. QB Sam Darnold (R-1, No. 3/San Clemente HS/Jets), OLB Unchenna Nwosu (R-2, No. 48/Harbor City Narbonne HS/ Chargers/photo above), and DL Rasheem Green (R-3, No. 79/Gardena Serra HS HS/Seahawks). Not bad SoCal haul at all for the first three rounds.

SoCal free agents: While the Trojans didn’t find any names called in draft rounds 4-7, homegrown SoCal Trojans signed as free agents included WR Steven Mitchell Jr. (Mission Hills Bishop Alemany HS/Rams), C Nico Falah (Bellflower St. John Bosco/Titans), S Chris Hawkins (Rancho Cucamonga HS/Seahawks), NG Josh Fatu (Lakewood HS/LBCC/Lions), WR Deontay Burnett (/Gardena Serra HS/Titans), and Viane Talamaivao (Corona Centennial HS/ Seahawks). Shout-outs to all and don’t underestimate some of these free agents finding themselves on an NFL roster.

The comparisons: No doubt the New York City media will begin scrutiny of Jets No. 3 selection, former Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold, and former Jets No. 1 selection if 2009, former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. If you want to start at the base comparisons, you could begin with the fact that both are from public high schools in South Orange County, California –  Mission Viejo HS (Sanchez) and San Clemente HS (Darnold), which not all that far apart.

No mercy: Regarding performing in the Big Apple, former Trojans and Jets quarterback QB Mark Sanchez has some words of advice for the family of Sam Darnold. In an article in Friday’s NY Post, Sanchez said, “I told his (Darnold) parents, ‘You guys have got to be his rock. After his big games and after the crappy ones, you guys have got to be there and strong for him, because New York is going to demand a lot from him — emotionally, physically, all that. I told them, ‘I guarantee he will get booed.’ It’s different than college. It’s a different atmosphere. It’s a different experience. I told Sam, ‘You’re going to love it, but understand that your life’s going to change.’’’

Musical advice: Being that Sam Darnold is a Southern California surfer kid, he might want to listen to the old Trade Winds song, “New York’s A Lonely Town,” when you’re the only surfer boy in town. Take a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRSe9fbzbFc

Numbers game: Sam Darnold wore No. 14 at USC, a number currently worn by Jets wide receiver Andre Roberts, fourth-year player out of The Citadel.

City by the Bay: No, not San Francisco but Tampa Bay, as the Buccaneers selected Trojans’ running back Ronald Jones lll in the second round and 48th pick overall of the draft. The Trojans have a historical connection with Tampa Bay, as the first draft pick in the Buccaneers’ history was late USC All-America tailback Ricky Bell, the No. 1 overall selection by The Bay in the 1977 draft. And for good measure, the first head coach of Tampa Bay directing that draft was the Trojans’ legendary coach John McKay.

City of Angels: And how’bout that Uchenna Nwosu, the Trojans’ former All-Pac-12 linebacker who made some history by becoming the first homegrown selection of the Los Angeles Chargers in the NFL draft. Picked as the second round and the 48th overall selection, what a great moment for the football program of local Harbor City Narbonne High. Go Gauchos!

Green machine: Also taken on Friday night was Trojans’ standout defensive lineman Rasheem Green, who was gobbled up in the third round and 79th overall selection by the green, blue, and silver of Pete Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks. Say, who says that the former Trojans’ head coach doesn’t draft cardinal and gold players?

From the press box…

The record holders: The Trojans retained their lead atop the most first-round picks (81), thanks to the selection of quarterback Sam Darnold by the Jets. For sure numbers, the greatest draft regardless of rounds came in the 1968 draft, a draft that followed John McKay’s second USC national championship in 1967.

The draftees: Those players that were drafted in 1968 included OT Ron Yary (R-1/No. 1/Minn.), OT Mike Taylor (R-1/No. 10 Pitt), DE Tim Rossovich (R-1/No. 14/Phil.), RB Mike Hull (R-1, No. 16/Chi.), WR Earl McCullough (R-1, No. 16/Det.), LB Adrian Young (R-3, No. 68/ Phil.), DT Dennis Crane (R-4, No. 94/Wash.), DT Gary Magner (R-4, No. 101/NYJ), NT Chip Oliver (R-11, No. 298 /Oak.), TB Steve Grady (R-17, No. 438/ Den.), LB Jim Ferguson (R-17, No. 439/N.O).

The protest: Yeah, I know. It’s really unfair to hand the most drafted honors to the 1967 Trojans because the draft went into Round 17 as opposed to today’s NFL draft that stops after Round 7. Yes, times have certainly changed.

Shout-outs: Since we’re in the nostalgia mood, here are shout-outs to the high schools and community colleges of those 1967 draftee. Ron Yary (Bellflower, Calif./Bellflower HS/ Cerritos CC), Mike Taylor (San Francisco, Calif./Lowell HS/ San Francisco CC), Tim Rossovich (Mountain View, Calif./St. Francis HS), RB Mike Hull (La Crescenta, Calif./Crescenta Valley HS/Glendale CC), WR Earl McCullough (Long Beach, Calif./ LB Poly HS/Long Beach CC), LB Adrian Young (La Puente, Calif./Bishop Amat HS), DT Dennis Crane (Colton, Calif./Colton HS/San Bernardino CC), DT Gary Magner (Costa Mesa, Calif./ Mater Dei HS/ Orange Coast College), NT Chip Oliver (San Diego, Calif./Hoover HS/San Diego CC), TB Steve Grady (Los Angeles, Calif. Loyola HS LB Jim Ferguson (Long Beach, Calif./Excelsior/Cerritos CC).

Still ticking: If you look at the above list of Trojans, three schools – Bishop Amat, Mater Dei, and Long Beach Poly still remain traditional pipelines for the cardinal and gold.   

Not forgotten: Of all the Trojans drafted from the 1967 national champions, the best player – like all you oldies but goodies didn’t know – was All-America tailback O.J. Simpson, who was only a junior at the time.

Not forgotten: And your trivia question of the day: Who quarterbacked the 1967 Trojans?

The answer:
The quarterback of the 1967 USC national champs was little Steve Sogge (5-10, 170), who was also an outstanding catcher on the Trojans’ baseball team. A shout-out to Steve’s high school alma mater, Gardena (Calif.) High School.

The post-game show…

The replacement: Former Trojan QB Carson Palmer has retired as the Arizona Cardinal quarterback to be replaced now or in the future by former UCLA QB Josh Rosen. So how many times has a Bruin potentially replaced a Trojan or vice versa at the pro level?

The rankings: During the latter part of spring ball, media members ranked the favorite saying or comments of likeable head coach Clay Helton. At the end of spring ball, the comment ranked were (1) “I am a quarterback coach by trade” (2) “We won’t know until there are live bullets out there” (3) “It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up” (4) Anytime referring to his lovely wife, Clay will lead with “Ms. Angela.”

The Silver Fox: Legendary coach John McKay also had his favorite lines. My personal favorites when referring to the number of times legendary tailback O.J. Simpson carried the ball, which was usually 30 or more times, McKay told the media, “The ball isn’t heavy” or “He doesn’t belong to a union.” Another McKay-ism was when asked to predict a game, the Silver Fox would say, “If we play as well as we can play, and they play as well as they can play, the Trojans will win.”

Dodgers fight on: Attended last Monday night’s Dodgers/Marlins game, and it was USC Night. As part of the festivities, three former Trojan football players – WR Robert Woods, RB Justin Davis, and CB Nickell Robey – were teamed with Trojan fans in a trivia contest. And, yes, The Song Girls were prominently featured in pregame festivities.

Dodgers fight on – Part 2:
And, yes, Dodger Stadium organist Dieter Ruehle played Fight On with a sampling of Tribute to Troy. With all due respect to the accomplished organist, Tribute to Troy just doesn’t have the same impact as Dr. Bartner’s Trojan Marching Band.

The last word: And now the latest take on the Coliseum renovation through the  Coliseum website camera: https://app.oxblue.com/open/usc/lacoliseumrenovation

Greg Katz
Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

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