We are 100 days away from USC kicking off its 2021 season against San Jose State on September 4. Taking a somewhat different approach to honoring the occasion, this WeAreSC Roundtables asks the writers to pick the best pair of Trojans whose uniform numbers add to 100.
No. 42 Ronnie Lott
No. 58 Rey Maualuga
Two defensive stalwarts during their time at USC and two of the guys who quickly come to mind when thinking about some of the best defenses in Trojan history. Lott intercepted eight passes in 1980 on his way to becoming a consensus All-American and he’s on the short list of best overall defensive players in USC history.
Starting with No. 42 meant needing to find a No. 58, and that made the choice an easy one, with Maualuga there to do the honors. The 2008 Chuck Bednarik Award winner and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year is a constant presence on USC defensive highlight reels with his huge hits and impactful turnovers. He recorded 273 tackles in four seasons, including nine sacks. He had five interceptions, including a memorable one returned for a touchdown in a big regular season win against Ohio State.
No. 33: Okay, what knowledgeable USC fan doesn’t know who wore No. 33 for the cardinal and gold? Come on, if you need clues, you probably can’t even tell us what the Trojans school colors even if I wrote in the previous sentence. Of course, it’s Troy’s fourth Heisman Trophy trophy winner, all-time tailback Marcus Allen. Although his exploits are pretty well documented (unanimous 1981 All-American, a USC team record of 40-6-2 during his playing time, and a member of the 1978 national champions), remember that Marcus came to USC as a quarterback/safety out of San Diego Lincoln High. He then preceded to go from a safety to fullback to tailback. No question that No. 33 certainly proved his mettle at each position stop. When his Trojans career was completed, he established himself as one of college football’s all-time greats. What many don’t know is that he was one heckeva high school basketball player, as well.
No. 67: Now then, if you’ve got No. 33, what second number does it take to get to 100? Thank you, Mr. Math Major, it’s the number No. 67, which wasn’t a legendary USC football number until a center from Anaheim (Calif.) Servite High enrolled. A 2006 All-America center, Ryan Kalil is generally accepted to be the greatest center in the glorious history of USC football. A member of the Trojans’ 2003 and 2004 USC national champions, Kalil grew from year to year and at the end of his four seasons of eligibility, he was developed into arguably the best in the country. Kalil was awarded the 2006 Morris Trophy as the best offensive lineman in the Pac-10 and was a finalist for the 2006 Rimington Award, which goes to allegedly the best center in the country. Ryan was the classic example of great coaching and a player’s determination to be great, which resulted now only in a fabulous career in college but paved the way for an excellent NFL career that also was highlighted by an appearance with the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
#1 Mike Williams: I’ve said it before: I think Mike Williams might have been the most dominant player of the Pete Carroll era. It’s hard to dominate a game physically from the wide receiver position, but Williams could and did. His highlights were awesome: the brutal stiff arm of a UCLA corner in the end zone (Ricky Manning?), the one-handed TD catch against Oregon State where he never even bothered to bring the ball back to his body, his pass to Matt Leinart in the Rose Bowl…. I do blame him for one ugly thing, however. In those days, kids, believe it or not, USC did run the ball – pretty well, in fact – but when they wanted, the USC coaches could use Mike Williams as a running game. Anytime the corner was off him, just toss him the ball immediately, and it was almost always good for eight yards or so. Corners were like children trying to tackle that beast of a man. Lane Kiffin saw that play work so many times that he made 37% of USC’s offense bubble screens even after Williams left, and it was never the same.
#99 Mike Patterson: Patterson played on some great defenses. That defensive line with Shaun Cody, Kenechi Udeze, and Frostee Rucker was an all-star team by itself, and with Groots and Lofa Tatupu behind them, well, just ask Bob Stoops what he thinks of that defense. But in that group of all-time Trojan greats, Patterson may have been the best. He didn’t look like much – short, chubby – but he was just about unblockable, and when you have a guy that dominates the A gaps the way Patterson did, opposing offenses are in a lot of trouble. And they were. Oh yeah, if you want to remember how great Patterson and his D line teammates were, go re-watch what they did to UCLA as freshmen. 27-0. Beautiful.