Ranking the 10 best USC defensive backs of all-time

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8. Artimus Parker

Before Sam Darnold rocked the No. 14 jersey, safety Artimus Parker made his name as a safety in it.

Coming to USC from Sacramento, he earned a starting job in his sophomore season, helping to turn around a struggling USC secondary. John McKay credited Parker and fellow defensive back Steve Fate with making the 1972 secondary one of the best group of athletes he’d ever had back there. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Parker certainly lived up to that description.

A wide receiver at heart, he put those skills to use as a defensive back, snagging 20 interceptions across three seasons. He finished as the career interception leader in the Pac-8 and remains atop USC’s career chart.

USC won the national championship in 1972 with Parker in his second year as a starter. That team put up 28 interceptions and Parker accounted for a team-best six of them. Then in 1973, he upped that total to eight and received universal acclaim as an All-Conference selection and consensus All-American.

The Philadelphia Eagles made Parker a 12th-round pick in the 1974 NFL Draft and he spent four seasons in the pros.

Though things didn’t work out as brightly for Parker in the NFL as other great USC safeties, he was still an exceptional figure on some exceptional Trojan teams.