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IMHO Sunday: The original AD

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think from Los Angeles

The originator: Yeah, I know that Los Angeles Lakers fan are falling all over themselves over the acquisition of superstar center Anthony Davis and for good reason. After all, the new “AD” is now teamed with King James. However, for true historians of Los Angeles sports, the original “AD” is the Trojans’ legendary tailback Anthony Davis (photo above). You know, old No. 28, who when scoring a touchdown would drop to both knees and do a knee dance in the end zone. The Trojans’ AD (1972-74) was another All-America tailback, a sensational player many believe – including himself – that should have won a Heisman Trophy but didn’t. 

The originator – Part 2 :
Troy’s Anthony Davis is without a Heisman Trophy because the nation’s voters probably did not want to vote “another” USC running back into the select club of Heisman recipients. With Mike Garrett (1965) and O.J. Simpson (1967) having previously won the award as college football’s greatest player, selecting a third Trojan within a decade may have seemed unfair.  As it were, Davis came in second in the balloting in 1974, losing to Ohio State junior tailback Archie Griffin, who would get another Heisman (1975) and become the only college player in history to have two of college football’s most prestigious trophy resting in his family possessions.

The vote: The final voting for the 1974 Heisman Trophy was as follows: Archie Griffin 148 first place ballots, 198 second place ballots, 75 third place ballots. For Anthony Davis, 120 first place ballots, 148 second place ballots, 163 third place ballots. The final tally was Griffin with 1920 votes and Anthony Davis 819 votes. Remember, that in those days the Heisman voting really was regionalized, although it still remains difficult for a player west of the Mississippi to gain the award.  

The legacy:
In 1990, the Los Angeles Times called the Trojans’ Anthony Davis, “perhaps the greatest college football player never to win a Heisman Trophy.” AD, who played at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, was a quarterback at San Fernando (Calif.) High School and came to SC as a signal-caller before being converted into a tailback.   

McKay says:
Asked about the recruitment of Anthony Davis out of San Fernando High, legendary Trojans’ head coach John McKay told the L.A. Times, “Well, we sure didn’t recruit him as a quarterback or rassler. We could see in practice that Anthony could play. He was plenty big and strong and had all kinds of power. He proved that against Notre Dame and lots of other teams.”

Legendary USC head coach John McKay with his celebrated tailback Anthony Davis, the original AD

Schoolboy legend: The senior high school season of Anthony Davis at SFHS is how prep legends are made. Davis was the City Section’s most dominant player. He led the Tigers in rushing with 1,566 yards and passing with 1,673 and became the school’s all-time leading rusher (2,732 yards), passer (2,937) and scorer (332 points). AD even booted two field goals as a senior. BTW, Davis did do some kickoffs for McKay’s Trojans, as well.

The memory game: Back in 1971, I went to the to see the Trojans freshmen play the UCLA freshmen in the Coliseum. In those days, college football programs fielded freshmen teams. The Trojans’ freshman team showcased one of their greatest freshmen classes ever, which included future stars like LB Richard Wood, QB Pat Haden, WR JK McKay, and, of course, Anthony Davis. The Trojans’ freshmen team that day were led by this converted quarterback-to-tailback named Anthony Davis, and one could see the future. Davis was running all over the Coliseum turf. It was a sneak preview of the next three seasons of Trojan football.

Linebacker Richard Wood, who was named to the WeAreSC all-time team, was part of Anthony Davis’s extraordinary USC freshmen class of 1971.

The Irish killer:
AD is legendary in a villainous way in the annals of Notre Dame football. You know about the famous kickoff returns and rushing. In his sophomore season, Davis accounted for 368 yards in all-purpose rushing in addition to his six touchdowns in Troy’s 45-23 win over the Irish at the Coliseum. On January 1, the Trojans smashed Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, 42-17, to accomplish the national championship and placed their team as perhaps college football’s best of all time. While fullback Sam “Bam” Cunningham was the star with his four “over-the-top” touchdowns, sophomore AD ran for 157 yards and a spectacular 20-yard, tackle-busting touchdown run.

The frustration: Even to this day, some folks believe that Anthony Davis is a Heisman Trophy winner. Davis told the 1990 Times, “That’s what’s frustrating to me to this day. People think I won it. It bothers me and irritates me that after what I did and what I did for the team, I don’t have the trophy.” Don’t blame AD for any lingering anger regarding the Heisman, he will also always be remembered as instrumental in helping bring the Trojans back in the 1974 “Comeback” game against Notre Dame. Did we mention the Men of Troy crushed the Irish 55-24?

Two of Notre Dame’s most painful losses were the 1974 “Comeback” game and the 2005 “Bush Push” with quarterback Matt Leianrt (above) crossing the goal line with seconds to go in South Bend.

The frustration – Part 2: The anger by Anthony Davis over that 1974 Heisman Voting had some credence. According to the Times, “Just as mind-boggling to Davis was the Heisman vote, released in the days after the (ND) game. Eager to meet the Heisman deadline, many sportswriters cast their ballots before the USC-Notre Dame game. At least a few Griffin supporters acknowledged afterward that they voted for the wrong man.”

The bottom line: So, when Lakers’ fans start exalting the performances of their hoop-dunking Anthony Davis and his AD identification, they’ll have to forgive USC fans who will point to their own AD as L.A.’s original.

From the press box…

Recruiting mo: As you’ve read, the Trojans had the appearance of a good recruiting week. These were players the USC coaches were able to watch on their recently concluded camps. The knock is that none were considered 5-star performers, which if the case – player development will be the key ingredient and that falls back on the coaches and the new players. I always check to see if the players are invited to the prestigious Nike local and national camps.

The Fink tweet: According to his Twitter site, Trojans QB Matt Fink recently underwent “minor” surgery on his right leg. Fink didn’t say what the surgery was all about, but the redshirt junior did say he expected to be back before the beginning of training camp. Hmm.

Junior quarterback Matt Fink, who has returned to USC after some time in the NCAA Transfer Portal, surprised recently when he announced he had undergone surgery (leg) but is expected back before training camp.

The verbal: Of the current verbals committed to the class of 2020, the one that peaks the most interest in me is Nevada offensive line commit Joey Wright. A big kid, (6-7, 285), he drew enough interest from Pac-12 schools like Arizona State and Arizona and not to mention the Big Ten’s Nebraska to warrant a second look. The Trojans coaching staff liked what they saw a week ago, offered the kid (Reno Bishop Manogue HS), and he made a commitment. Because the Trojans are in dire need for offensive line recruits, this is one prepster to keep an eye on.

No surprise: It will not shock me if Trojans’ Class of 2021 WR verbal Velltray Jefferson (Fresno, Calif./Edison) grows into a tight end or becomes a candidate for a spot somewhere on defense. Jefferson (6-4, 215) could play 21 of the 22 positions on a football field, according to his high school coach Atnaf Harris.

WR Velltray Jefferson (Fresno, Calif./Edison) recently made a verbal to Troy and is so athletic he could play 21 of 22 football positions, according to his coach. Jefferson is part of the Class of 2021.

Conflicted doubleheader (UPDATED): Word has leaked out that the Trojans are planning to have a special scrimmage in the Coliseum on Saturday, Aug. 17, which may be open to season ticket holders who can sit in their assigned new seat location. It figures the scrimmage would be held in the morning at some time. However, in checking with the Rams exhibition calendar, it says that on Aug 17 the NFL Rams will be hosting the Dallas Cowboys in a night game (7 p.m.) in the Coliseum. If true, wouldn’t that be a real conflict of logistics? And would the NFL be in favor of it? What about parking? Just wondering…if it’s accurate. UPDATE: Thanks to a spot-on reader, I was alerted to the fact that the Rams’ exhibition game is being played in Hawaii. In fact, the game is being played in Aloha Stadium, which Trojan fans have visited when playing the University of Hawaii.

The Imatorbhebhes:
WR Josh Imatorbhebhe, an NCAA Portal Transfer prospect, has announced his commitment to Illinois. Josh will find former Trojans’ teammates Trevon Sidney and Oluwole Betiku Jr. ready to welcome him. Too bad Josh never had the career he hoped for, but the real loss for the Trojans is his brother, TE Daniel, appears to have never recovered from his injury that put him on the shelf for two seasons. Daniel had so much potential. Just ask the host Washington Huskies, who couldn’t handle Daniel back in 2016 as the Cardinal and Gold upset UW.

Talented TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe was never able to recover completely to play again for the Trojans.

Toughest of the tough: According to ESPN.com, Stanford plays the country’s toughest 2019 non-conference schedule, which includes Northwestern, at UCF, and Notre Dame. However, not far behind at No. 3 are the Trojans (Fresno St., at BYU, at Notre Dame). With all due respect, two of Stanford’s toughest non-conference games are at home while two of the Trojans’ most challenging non-conference games are on the road. FYI, Duke has the No. 2 toughest non-conference schedule, according to ESPN.com.  

The post-game show…

Ready to receive: Trojans’ senior wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. has gotten a majority of the pub when it comes to national attention through college football magazines. Pittman has been seen on the cover of a majority of them. However, USA Today is running a series on college football positions, and they say that of their Top 10 receivers for 2019, Trojans’ sophomore Amon-Ra St. Brown is their choice at No. 10 with no mention of Pittman.

Ready to receive – Part 2:
Regarding Amon-Ra St. Brown, USA Today writes, “This is based primarily on promise, even if Brown met his five-start expectations during the Trojans’ dreadful 2018 season. Look for Brown to mesh with Graham Harrell’s new offensive scheme and continue building a rapport with quarterback JT Daniels as he challenges for the top spot in the Pac-12 in all meaningful receiving categories.”

Amon-Ra St. Brown is one of the nations’ Top 10 receivers, according to USA Today.

The intrigue:
Considering Coliseum seating has been reduced to 77,500, in theory there are less seats to sell. Of course, with the amount of season ticket holders that did not renew, the USC ticket department is under the gun to aggressively contact former season ticket holders and try and persuade them to purchase any sort of ticket package at this point. FYI, Michigan led all FBS schools again with an average attendance of 110,737 fans per home game in 2018.

The intrigue – Part 2: Nobody will have an eye on the results of early season games than the USC Ticket Department. If the Trojans get off to a rough start (try 2-4), that would be pretty close to a worst-case scenario moving forward in trying to sell tickets for the balance of the season.

The last word: The replacement seats have been installed, so here’s the latest real time Coliseum renovation camera view: https://app.oxblue.com/open/usc/lacoliseumrenovation

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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