10. Brian Cushing (2005-2008)
There’s a lot to consider when looking at the USC career of Brian Cushing. For starters, he was part of a recruiting class that went to four Rose Bowls in four seasons.
But he never put together an overwhelming amount of production on the stat sheet, partly due to the players around him and how he was used.
The 2008 USC defense was widely considered one, if not the best in school history, and one of the most heralded units in the history of the game. Because he shared the field with so many elite players, Cushing wound up with just 178 tackles to his name, and never more than the 73 he collected as a senior.
Where he excelled was as a skilled outside linebacker that thrived at getting after the quarterback. Cushing was so good at it, that Pete Carroll altered his defense in 2006 to weaponize him as an edge rusher.
The shift gave the Trojans a near 3-4 defensive scheme, with Cushing filling in as an Elephant defensive end/outside linebacker. The role would reprise later on, as Clay Matthews starred there in 2008.
As a whole, Cushing’s legacy at linebacker is strongly attached to how big of a component he was to USC’s 2007 and 2008 linebacker corps. Three different Trojan linebackers earned All-American acclaim, as a unit that terrorized the Pac-10.