81 days to USC football: Antoine Harris and Alex Holmes went back-to-back

RoT Countdown / Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images (Reign of Troy)
RoT Countdown / Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images (Reign of Troy) /
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USC football’s No. 81 jersey was worn with distinction for a long stretch by two reliable tight ends, Antoine Harris and Alex Holmes.

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There are now 81 days left until USC football gets back on the Coliseum floor.

That’s 81 days until the Trojans can get back on track following a 5-7 season.

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So what better time to discuss the No. 81 jersey, which saw out the transition from cardinal and gold mediocrity in the late 1990s to success in the 2000s.

Who wore it best?

Two of the top No. 81s in USC history wore the jersey back-to-back: Antoine Harris and Alex Holmes.

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Harris joined USC in 1997 and became the first tight end ever to start for the Trojans as a true freshman. That season he led USC with four catches against Notre Dame and was named a Sporting News Freshman All-American second teamer.

He’d go on contribute as a strong blocker and able pass catcher, setting career-highs as a senior in 2000 with 28 catches for 353 yards and five touchdowns.

Holmes arrived at USC in 2000 and wore 84 in his first year as a Trojan. It was in that number that he matched Harris’ Freshman All-American second team nod while serving as a backup.

Upon Harris’ graduation, he took over the No. 81 and carried on the reliable production of the jersey.

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He one-upped Harris as a junior in 2002 with 29 receptions, the most by a Trojan tight end since 1993, for 320 yards.

Holmes’ senior campaign was put on hold in 2003 because of a back injury, but he returned as a redshirt senior in 2004 to pitch in his blocking ability and 24 catches for 244 yards as the Trojans stormed to the national championship.

Who wears it now?

The 81 is currently vacant after jack-of-all-trades special teamer Wyatt Schmidt’s graduation. It had previously been worn by wide receiver Trevon Sidney, though he changed to No. 13 before he opted to transfer away.

Incoming freshman tight end Ethan Rae could be a candidate to pick it up. The Fall Camp roster will tell whether that comes to pass.

Stats to know: 81

  • USC is the all-time leader for NFL first round draft picks, with 81 in history.
  • Safety Dennis Thurman was USC’s 81st All-American in 1977, his second year of achieving that honor.
  • When it comes to season tackle totals, 81 is a popular number. Safety Cleveland Colter had 81 tackles in 1988 when he earned All-American status. Linebacker Scott Ross matched that total in 1990 when he too picked up All-American acclaim. Linebacker Matt Grootegoed became an All-American in 2004, but two years earlier he marked his career high with a team-best 81 tackles in 2002. Linebacker Hayes Pullard and defensive back Dion Bailey both led the Trojans with 81 tackles in 2011.
  • Wide receiver Mike Williams set the Pac-12 record for catches by a freshman with 81 in 2002. He amassed 1,265 yards and 14 touchdowns, which also set NCAA records for a freshman.
  • Heisman running back Reggie Bush had a career-long run of 81 yards against UCLA in 2004.

82 Days to Kickoff. Next