It’s a battle of the big men as RoT Madness continues with the defensive line subregion, featuring USC football legends like The Big Cat and the Wild Bunch.
USC football has produced a number of top quality defensive linemen, making for one of the most competitive brackets in the RoT Madness tournament.
From old-school dominators Jimmy Gunn to new era monsters like Leonard Williams, there are intriguing match ups across the board on this side of the Front region.
Now it’s time to get voting…
No. 1 Leonard Williams vs. No. 8 Jimmy Gunn
The 1-8 match up is a battle of eras and nicknames with Leonard Williams and Jimmy Gunn on deck.
Williams played during one of the most unsettled eras in USC football history, but he provided a constant presence for the Trojans on the defensive line.
A two-time All-American, The Big Cat was named to the Pac-12 All-Century Team just one year removed from his Trojan career.
He dominated up front, despite the attention paid each week to stopping him. Even injury couldn’t slow him, as he played through ailments — most memorably on a sprained ankle in USC’s 2014 victory over Stanford.
In all, he tallied 36.5 tackles for loss and 21 sacks at USC.
Decades earlier, Gunn left his mark by leading the Wild Bunch, terrorizing quarterbacks with his ferocious pass rushing ability. He was a member of USC’s 1967 national championship squad, helped the Trojans to three conference titles and earned consensus All-American honors as a captain in 1969.
Gunn is a member of the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.
No. 4 Kenechi Udeze vs. No. 5 Willie McGinest
Kenechi Udeze was a member of the Wild Bunch II and earned every bit of that membership by imposing his will on opposing offensive fronts.
The 2003 consensus All-American was a critical figure in USC’s national title run that year. He was named the Pigskin Club of Washington D.C’s National Defensive Player of the Year while co-leading the nation in sacks and the Pac-10 in tackles for loss. The year before, he set USC’s season record for forced fumbles with six.
On the other side, there’s Willie McGinest, who is one of nine Trojan defenders selected to the Pac-12 All-Century team in 2015.
McGinest is a tough figure to categorize. In 1992 he gained all-conference first team honors as a linebacker. In 1993 he did the same as a defensive lineman. Regardless of position, he earns a place among the defensive linemen because his trade was rushing the quarterback.
He led USC in tackles for loss and sacks in both 1992 and 1993, including an impressive 16 in the former.
No. 3 Shaun Cody vs. No. 6 Mike Patterson
Two members of USC’s Wild Bunch II square off in one of the most intriguing match ups of the bracket.
Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson were both named All-Americans in 2004 as the Trojans stormed to the national title.
Cody was a four-year starter. Patterson started for three years.
The former amassed 130 career tackles, with 31.5 tackles for loss and 21 sacks while also blocking five field goals. He was the 2004 Pac-10 Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
The latter finished with 146 career tackles, 46 tackles for loss and 21.5 sacks while adding 13 fumble recoveries.
Both played a pivotal role in two national championship teams.
No. 2 Tim Ryan vs. No. 7 Sedrick Ellis
Tim Ryan dominated in the late 80s. Sedrick Ellis dominated in the in the mid-2000s. Now it’s time to see which reigns.
Ryan was a two-time All-American, a runner up for the Lombardi Award and the winner of the Pop Warner Award in 1989.
He logged over 100 tackles three times in his four-year career, managing 55 tackles for loss from the defensive tackle position.
Ellis’ numbers couldn’t possibly compare to that production, but he does match Ryan with two All-American honors — including unanimous selection in 2007. That year he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and team MVP while also taking home the Pac-10 Morris Trophy as the top lineman in the conference as voted by other linemen.
Voting will be open until midnight Saturday. Be sure to vote in the rest of the first round of RoT Madness, then hop down below in the comments and make your case for how you voted.
Was there a player you think should’ve made the bracket that got snubbed? Did you go with your heart? How did stats play a role in your vote? Sound off.