50 Greatest USC Football Players of the Last 50 Years

3 of 50

48. Matt Grootegoed

Every championship squad needs a leader in the background, doing all the little things that add up to silverware.

Matt Grootegoed was that player for USC during the height of the Pete Carroll era.

Though undersized, Grootegoed was key towards securing USC’s championships in 2003 and 2004. He earned his first starting gig as a freshman in 2001 after being moved from safety to linebacker, then led the Trojan in tackles as a sophomore in 2002.

In 2003, Grootegoed missed a chunk of time due to injury but still finished the year as an All-Pac-10 second teamer and semifinalist for the Butkus and Lombardi Awards.

His final season brought his greatest success. Named team captain, he helped lead the Trojans through an undefeated season. He was voted a consensus All-American and was among the finalists for the Butkus Award.

Most importantly, he raised the second straight national championship trophy for USC, nabbing an interception against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.