74 days to USC football: Ron Mix was unmatched in No. 74

RoT Countdown / Photo by San Diego Chargers via Getty Images (Reign of Troy)
RoT Countdown / Photo by San Diego Chargers via Getty Images (Reign of Troy) /

USC football found the best No. 74 in history early, when Ron Mix put on the jersey and dominated up front for the Trojans in 1959.

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The countdown to USC football’s 2019 season is on, with just 74 days remaining.

On August 31, the Trojans will suit up and take on Fresno State at the Coliseum. Until then, Reign of Troy is taking the time to look at some past greats who represented each number on the roster.

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The No. 74 is up:

Who wore it best?

Ron Mix could have turned up much earlier in the countdown. He wore No. 85 and No. 83 for the Trojans before settling into the No. 74 and making it his.

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Mix did quite a bit of moving around.

He began his career as an end, playing both ways. He even led USC with one interception in that spot in 1957.

As one of the few players who lifted weights, he grew from just over 200 pounds as a sophomore to 215 as a junior. As a result, he transitioned to tackle, where he could still put his size speed and aggression to good use.

Though he is well-known for becoming an NFL Hall of Famer as an offensive lineman, his play on defense was exceptional for the Trojans as well.

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In 1959, he helped terrorize Pitt’s backfield en route to a 23-0 win. The team captain also recovered a fumble to set up a score in a 17-8 victory over Baylor later that year.

His defensive playmaking along with outstanding blocking earned him an All-American nod to cap his Trojan career.

Pro teams could see Mix’s potential. He was drafted in the first round of both the NFL and AFL draft, ultimately signing with the Chargers, where he built a Hall of Fame career.

Who wears it now?

Nico Falah vacated the No. 74 jersey after the 2017 season and it went unfilled in 2018. As of Spring Camp, it remained that way in 2019.

Though he never approached the heights of Mix, Falah represented the number well, especially considering how he was hastily transitioned from tackle to center because of a rash of injuries at the position. He won USC’s Trojan Commitment Award in 2017 after serving as USC’s starting center for two seasons.

Stats to know: 74

  • Tight end Jim Obradovich was USC’s 74th All-American in 1974.
  • Safety Ronnie Lott had 74 tackles in 1979, the first year he picked up all-conference recognition. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams had 74 tackles in 2013, the first year he picked up All-American recognition.
  • Running back Ronald Jones II broke off a 74-yard run against Arizona in 2015, the longest play of his record-setting freshman season.
  • The 1896 USC team failed to score a point in three games of action, giving up 74 points to their opponents.
  • In 1958, USC managed a 15-15 tie against UCLA thanks to a 74-yard kickoff return by Luther Hayes in the fourth quarter.
  • Kareem Kelly set the record for most consecutive games with a catch at 47 thanks to a three-catch, 74-yard performance against Iowa in the 2003 Orange Bowl.

Next. 75 Days to Kickoff