The first round of RoT Madness is heating up, and it’s time for big-time receivers in USC football history like Keyshawn Johnson and Mike Williams to test the bracket.
USC football’s wide receivers have been a prolific bunch in recent memory, making it hard to pick just eight to make the field in RoT Madness, the ultimate bracket for the ultimate Trojan.
Here’s how the bracket looks going into the first round…
You could make arguments for snubs like Steve Smith, JuJu Smith-Schuster or Charles Young, but everyone in the bracket has earned All-American honors, and everyone set a school or Pac-12 record of some sort.
Let’s get to business with the receivers bracket…
No. 1 Keyshawn Johnson vs. No. 8 Fred Davis
Though he only played two seasons at USC, Keyshawn Johnson was a force with the Trojans in the mid-1990s, with his top-level talent validated by being the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft. Johnson currently sits 11th on the all-time USC catch list with 168 receptions, but holds the school record for 100-yard games (17), including eight-straight in 1994.
As a senior in 1995, Johnson led the Trojans to an eventual Rose Bowl win by becoming the first receiver in school history to catch 100 passes in a season. He finished with 102 catches for 1,434 yards, including 12 receptions and 216 yards against Northwestern in Pasadena. He averaged 219 receiving yards per bowl game, including his three-touchdown performance against Texas Tech in the 1995 Cotton Bowl.
Drawing Johnson is arguably USC’s best ever tight end, Fred Davis. He was recruited as a wide receiver out of his hometown of Toledo, but transitioned outside following the departures of Dominique Byrd and Alex Holmes.
In 2007, Davis put together a magical season as the Trojans’ top receiver, while winning the Mackey Award for the nation’s best tight end. His 62 catches, 881 yards and eight touchdowns remain single season records for a USC tight end.
No. 4 Dwayne Jarrett vs. No. 5 Robert Woods
Dwayne Jarrett got to USC in 2004 and was tasked with filling the shoes of the just-departed Mike Williams. He just about did it, setting school records and helping the Trojans win a national title along the way.
One of just six USC receivers to ever amass 1,000 receiving yards in two different seasons, Jarrett was a monster both on the stat sheet and in the red zone. His 41 career touchdowns over three seasons still stand as a Pac-12 record, and no Trojan has caught more scores in a single season. Jarrett’s 16 touchdowns in 2005 is tied with Williams for the school record.
After holding the school’s receptions record for six years, he now sits third behind Robert Woods and Marqise Lee with 216. Woods, of course, is his first round foe.
A precision route runner Woods was a pass-catcher extraordinaire in college, despite continually being targeted by defenses as a favorite target of quarterback Matt Barkley.
His 252 career receptions just edge out his teammate Lee, and his 111 catches as a sophomore in 2011 stood as a school record prior to Lee surpassing it a year later. That year, he also set the single game record for catches, snagging 17 in the season opener against Minnesota.
No. 3 Marqise Lee vs. No. 6 Lynn Swann
Marqise Lee gets the No. 3 seed in the receivers bracket by putting together the most dominant season for a receiver in USC football history. Oh, and he also holds or shares 26 different school records.
After a strong freshman season in 2011 alongside Robert Woods, Lee surged past him as the Trojans’ No. 1 receiver the following season. The result was the Biletnikoff Award, single season records for 118 catches and 1,721 yards, and a Pac-12-leading 2,682 all-purpose yards.
In the end, Lee is the yardage king at USC, holding the marks for a career, season and game. His 345 yards against Arizona in 2012 will likely never be surpassed.
Statistically, Lynn Swann isn’t any competition for Lee. But that’s primarily due to the drastically different offensive philosophies between eras, and both Lane Kiffin and John McKay. Swann played during the height of Tailback U, and never had to be an overly prolific receiver by today’s standards. And yet, among his peers, he was top of his class.
Swann led the Pac-8 with 42 receptions in 1973. The big year earned him consensus All-American honors, becoming the first modern USC receiver to take home such a honor. He was subsequently inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
All told, Swann finished his career with 95 catches and 11 touchdowns. He also ranks fourth on the Trojans’ all-time punt return yardage list with 599 yards, to go with a pair of touchdowns. He was the conference’s top punt returner as a junior in 1972.
No. 2 Mike Williams vs. No. 7 Johnnie Morton
Mike Williams got to USC in 2002 and immediately put the Trojans over the top on offense, serving as the perfect target for Carson Palmer during his Heisman-winning season at quarterback. The phenom set school and Pac-12 records for a freshman receiver, with 81 catches for 1,265 yards and 14 touchdowns.
A year later, he bested them all with 95 snares for 1,314 yards and 16 scores on his way to both a national championship and All-American honors. In just two years, Williams set USC’s career record for touchdowns with 30 –which has since been surpassed by three-year men Dwayne Jarrett and Robert Woods.
Facing him is Johnnie Morton, the first truly prolific receiver in school history, or least in the era of pass-happy Trojan teams. He led USC in receiving three different times and was the school record holder with 201 career catches for a decade. He now sits sixth.
It was 1993 that is Morton’s lasting impact. The All-American season saw him set then-records with 88 catches, 1,520 yards and 14 touchdowns, while tallying nine games of 100 yards or more.
Why’d you vote for who you voted for? Do records matter? Did catches matter? Or are you more of a style-of-play guy or gal?