86 days to USC football: Marlin McKeever set the standard

RoT Countdown / Photo by Allan Grant/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images (Reign of Troy)
RoT Countdown / Photo by Allan Grant/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images (Reign of Troy) /

The countdown to USC football’s 2019 season is down to 86 days. The best player to wear the No. 86 in Trojan history? Marlin McKeever.

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USC football will be back in 86 short days. Or long ones depending on your perspective as the days turn warmer and summer officially creeps closer.

We at Reign of Troy are passing the time by examining each number on the Trojan roster.

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Today, here’s a look at the No. 86 and where it may go from here:

Who wore it best?

Marlin McKeever set the standard not just for the No. 86, but for the tight end position at USC.

McKeever was a load at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds and matched by his twin brother, Mike, who played on the defensive line.

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As a blocker and pass catcher, McKeever established himself quickly. He was an all-conference pick in 1958 even before leading USC in receiving in 1959 and 1960. Those seasons he garnered All-American acclaim and was named the Trojans’ Lineman of the Year in his final campaign.

It’s a sign of how versatile his skillset was that McKeever played end and fullback at the college level before serving as a linebacker and tight end at different stages during his 13-year NFL career.

A fun anecdote about McKeever revolves around his number, if the Oakland Tribune is to be believed. In 1959, they claimed that USC was in the habit of submitting just one head shot for the McKeever brothers for news purposes. Since Marlin wore No. 86 and Mike wore No. 68, papers could reverse the image to represent one or the other twin.

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Since McKeever, the No. 86 has been a hotbed for productive tight ends. Dominique Byrd, Anthony McCoy and Xavier Grimble all wore the number.

Who wears it now?

Cary Angeline was supposed to be the next great No. 86 for USC, but he transferred in 2017 before ever having much of an impact. Since then the jersey has been unoccupied.

New tight end addition Jude Wolfe took up the No. 82, so it’s quite possible Orange Lutheran’s Ethan Rae will jump at the chance to don it.

That question will be answered when USC releases the Fall Camp roster later this summer.

Stats to know: 86

  • Offensive guard Brad Budde was USC’s 86th ever All-American in 1979.
  • USC’s only score in the 1955 Rose Bowl against Ohio State, a 20-7 loss, came courtesy of Aramis Dandoy, who returned a punt 86 yards for a score.
  • Safety Ronnie Lott finished his career with 86 tackles in the 1980 season.
  • Running back Marcus Allen had 86 career receptions for USC.
  • Wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson had an 86 yard touchdown in the 1995 Cotton Bowl, coming one yard shy of setting the record for longest pass in the Cotton Bowl and USC history.
  • Wide receiver Deontay Burnett led USC with 86 receptions for 1,114 yards and nine touchdowns in 2017, his final season with the Trojans. That ranks ninth on USC’s single-season pass-catching chart.
  • Running back Ronald Jones II had a career-long run of 86 yards in 2017 against Washington State.
  • Linebacker Su’a Cravens led USC with 86 tackles in 2015.

Next. 87 Days to Kickoff