The finishing touches were put on the WeAreSC All-Time USC Team defense this week, as the squad was rounded out by two cornerbacks and two safeties (sort of).
Just as he was for opposing offenses throughout his USC career, Ronnie Lott proved to be a problem in this exercise.
As he played both cornerback and safety during his USC career, Lott was listed in both polls, and, subsequently, finished in the top two spots in both polls. Suffice it to say, Lott gets to play wherever he wants in this defense, and he’s absolutely in the starting lineup.
One of the greatest defensive players in USC history, Lott was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Century in 2015. He was a unanimous All-American in 1980 and his Trojan teams finished no worse than 13th in the country, including a national championship in 1978. He’s a member of the college and pro football halls of fame and led the Trojans in interceptions as a junior and a senior, and is tied for fourth in career interceptions for USC. His eight interceptions in 1980 tied for the national lead. Drafted No. 8 overall in 1981, Lott’s name became synonymous with outstanding safety play.
If Lott slides in as one of the safeties, he’s joined there by Troy Polamalu.
Polamalu, along with quarterback Carson Palmer, will always be remembered as an integral piece of USC’s turnaround under head coach Pete Carroll. A two-time All-American and two-time USC captain (2001 and 2002), Polamalu was a nightmare for opposing coaches and quarterbacks, often lining up anywhere and everywhere, with the physical and mental ability to seemingly be in two places at once. He recorded 281 tackles, six interceptions, three touchdowns, two fumble recoveries and four blocked punts during his USC career. A Thorpe Award finalist, Polamalu is another USC legend who landed on the Pac-12 All-Century Team in 2015.
A first-round selection of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Polamalu was an integral part of a team that went to three Super Bowls.
Also deserving of mention among the safeties (and first off the bench if Lott chooses to play some cornerback) is Mark Carrier, who finished third in the voting. Carrier was USC’s first Thorpe Award winner and a two-time All-American. Joining Lott and Polamalu, Carrier was the third USC safety named to the Pac-12 All-Century Team. He led the Pac-10 in interceptions in 1989 and ranks sixth on USC’s career interception list. In a three-year career, Carrier posted 336 tackles, 34 pass deflections, six fumble recoveries and 13 interceptions.
USC has such a strong history at safety, that even the cornerback position has some safety flavor to it. If Lott is stuck at safety, one of the two starting cornerbacks is Joey Browner, who also spent time at safety while at USC.
Browner was the only USC cornerback named to the Pac-12 All Century Team, and was an All-Conference selection in 1982. In his USC career, Browner totaled 243 tackles, nine interceptions, 40 pass deflections, seven fumble recoveries and excelled as both a kickoff and punt returner. A first-round selection of the Minnesota Vikings, Browner was a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro.
Opposite Browner stands Adoree’ Jackson, arguably USC’s greatest pure cornerback. USC’s second Thorpe Award winner, Jackson was a consensus All-American in 2016. A two-time All-Conference selection (twice as a cornerback and once as a returner), he finished his defensive career with 139 tackles, six interceptions, 29 pass deflections, three fumble recoveries and an interception returned for a touchdown. Jackson also showed his versatility on offense and special teams, as he caught 39 passes for 628 yards and six touchdowns, and set USC’s all-time career kickoff return record with 2,141 yards. His eight total special teams return touchdowns (and nine total return touchdowns) tied NCAA records. Jackson was a first-round selection of the Tennessee Titans.
WeAreSC All-Time USC Trojans Team
Quarterback: Matt Leinart
Running backs: Marcus Allen, Reggie Bush
Wide receivers: Keyshawn Johnson, Mike Williams
Offensive line: Anthony Munoz, Brad Budde, Ryan Kalil, Bruce Matthews, Tony Boselli
Defensive line: Leonard Williams, Mike Patterson, Shaun Cody, Willie McGinest
Linebackers: Junior Seau, Chris Claiborne, Richard Wood
Cornerbacks: Joey Browner, Adoree’ Jackson
Safeties: Ronnie Lott, Troy Polamalu