Throwback Thursday: No. 9 Sammy Knight


Like last week’s Throwback Thursday, this week’s edition is dedication to a player whose jersey number coincides with the number of days left until the 2012 season kicks off. This Trojan has pulled double duty at USC, playing his college career here and then returning later to try his hand at coaching. To look at his career we must go back to the early 90s, when most of USC’s current undergraduate population had yet to reach elementary school, to look at the career of Trojan Safety Sammy Knight.

Sammy Knight came to USC in 1993 and based on his family pedigree, a successful athletic career was in the cards for him. Big brother Ryan played college football for the Trojans as well, lettering four years (1984–87) at tailback for USC and leading the Trojans in rushing yards in back to back seasons (1985 & ’86). He is currently ranked 20th on USC’s career rushing list, with 1,875 yards. His other older brother, Greg, played for one season on Colorado’s D-line in 1986, and his little brother Darryl also lettered at USC three years (1998-2000) as a Trojan linebacker.

Like his brothers, Sammy would earn some glory for himself while suited up in cardinal and gold.

Knight lettered four years (1993-1996) at safety and linebacker, and started all but his first season at USC. He recorded 290 tackles and five interceptions in his career. As a senior in the ’96 season, he made the All-Pac-10 first team while leading USC in a handful of categories: tackles (121), interceptions (five, including one pick-six) and fumble recoveries (three). He also had 11 tackles for losses, nine deflections and a forced fumble.

He was named the team captain, USC’s MVP and Most Inspirational Player in that same season.

After his years at USC, he spent 12 seasons as a strong safety in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints (1997-2002), Miami Dolphins (2003-04), Kansas City Chiefs (2005-06), Jacksonville Jaguars (2007) and New York Giants (2008), and was also a 2002 Pro Bowler. In his career, he had 42 interceptions (four for touchdowns), 671 tackles, 38 deflections, 13 fumble recoveries and 12 forced fumbles. He started 168 of the 183 regular season games he played in, and made five post-season appearances.

In 2010, Knight returned to USC to serve as a graduate assistant coach, working primarily with the safeties. He resumed his role with the team in 2011 but then left before the 2012 season.

Sammy Knight will go down in history as one of the best defensive players to come out of USC in the mid-to-late 90s.