98 days to USC football: The Trojans most unheralded number ever?

RoT Countdown / Photo by Alicia de Artola (Reign of Troy)
RoT Countdown / Photo by Alicia de Artola (Reign of Troy) /

With 98 days until USC football returns, now is the time to consider the No. 98 jersey, which may be the most unheralded in Trojan history.

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The countdown to kickoff continues, marking this day as the 98th until USC football returns to the Coliseum.

The No. 98 jersey is one of the few in USC history with a limited history. In fact, it might have the most limited legacy of any number in cardinal and gold.

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Here’s a look at the number as there are 98 days left until kickoff against Fresno State:

Who wore it best?

From 1988 to 1991, Kurt Barber probably did the No. 98 jersey most proud.

Barber started out as a special teams contributor, even taking home USC’s Special Teams Player of the Year Award in his second season. Though he established himself as a key figure on that side of the ball, it wasn’t until his junior season that he broke into the starting lineup on defense.

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In 1990, playing in the same linebacker corps as All-American Scott Ross, Barber certainly put up good numbers on the outside, leading USC in tackles and forced fumbles.

As a senior in 1991, he capped his Trojan career by posting a team-best in sacks. He was never officially named All-Pac-10 though.

Recognition of his contributions wasn’t overwhelming, but his play did earn him a selection in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.

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Who wears it now?

No one.

Josh Fatu had a fairly successful stint in No. 98 recently after transferring in from junior college. He had six sacks and eight tackles for loss in 2017 while holding down a role on USC’s defensive line.

However, after his graduation no one took on the No. 98 in 2018 and the number remains vacant going into the 2019 season.

Perhaps incoming defensive lineman Dejon Benton will look to build his legacy in it.

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Stats to know: 98

  • Center Tony Slaton was USC’s 98th All-American as a unanimous selection in 1983.
  • In 1940, Al Kreuger led USC in receiving with 98 yards. The Trojans also gave up 98 points all season, though they only scored 88 themselves.
  • Lofa Tatupu led USC with 98 tackles in 2003.
  • USC had 98 tackles for loss in 2008, 2012 and 2015.
  • Adoree’ Jackson’s 98-yard kickoff return touchdown in 2014 is a Holiday Bowl record.
  • Matt Barkley was the 98th pick overall in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Next. 99 Days to Kickoff