47 days to USC football: A quiet captain, a runt and a walk-on

RoT Countdown / Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
RoT Countdown / Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images /

Stan Williamson, Joey Browner and Clay Matthews III make for an interesting mix of top No. 47s in USC football history.

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The clock has now ticked down to 47 days until USC football returns.

Who are the best No. 47s in Trojan history and who will wear the jersey next?

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We’ll answer those very questions right now:

Who wore it best?

The list of great No. 47s in USC history is surprisingly diverse.

In 1931, there was national-title winning center Stan Williamson, a captain and All-American who was known for his understated manner.

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“Capt. Williamson is one of the steadiest players in Troy’s history and also one of the quietest. He rarely says a word, either on or off the field, in anything but a very mild tone of voice,” Braven Dyer of the Los Angeles Times wrote. “But into his football he packs all the punch and dynamite one might expect from the hind leg of a mule.”

In 1982, Joey Browner also captained the Trojans while wearing No. 47.

Williamson was 6-foot-1, 198 pounds as a center. Browner was “the runt of six brothers” as a 6-foot-3, 205-pound defensive back.

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While Williamson was a general in the trenches, Browner was an instinctive figure in the secondary, drawing comparisons to Ronnie Lott from Trojan coaches.

“He’s the type of player you just can’t run or pass away from,” then-defensive backs coach Nate Shaw told the Los Angeles Times. “He has an extraordinary sense of where the ball is. Joey will end up where the ball is no matter where it goes. Every game he makes a big play for us.”

Browner didn’t rate as an All-American, but he was voted USC’s MVP in 1982 and was named to the Pac-12 All-Century team in 2015.

Williamson as often unheralded because of the stars he played around. Browner hailed from a football family of great pedigree. Clay Matthews III fit both of those molds.

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The son of Trojan All-American Clay Matthews Jr. and the nephew of all-time lineman Bruce Matthews, Clay III walked on to USC’s team as an outside linebacker in 2004. He redshirted that first season in hopes of giving himself a chance down the line.

It’s a good thing he did, because by his redshirt senior year in 2008, he was one of the key contributors on one of the greatest defenses in USC history.

“He wasn’t big enough and he wasn’t fast enough,” head coach Pete Carroll explained to the Los Angeles Times in 2008. “But he is now. Now he’s perfect.”

Perfect meant 6-foot-3, 240 pounds and capable of racking up 56 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks two forced fumbles, two deflections and a field goal block.

Who wears it now?

The graduation of linebacker Reuben Peters means a new face will don the No. 47 in 2019.

Freshman defensive lineman Stanley Ta’ufo’ou wore the jersey as an early enrollee this spring.

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Recruited as an outside linebacker, his rapid growth saw the Trojans shift him inside to the defensive line, where he is expected to develop in what is likely to be a redshirt year.

Stats to know: 47

  • Lineman Ron Yary was USC’s 47th All-American of all-time in 1967.
  • The Trojans topped Pitt 47-14 in the 1930 Rose Bowl, giving Howard Jones his first of five wins in the Granddaddy of Them All.
  • USC beat Texas A&M 47-28 in the 1977 Bluebonnet Bowl, scoring 34 unanswered points after going down by 14.
  • In 1980, Eric Hipp hit a 47-yard field goal with no time on the clock to give USC a 20-17 win at Tennessee. Andre Heidari booked home a kick of the same length to put USC up 20-17 with 19 seconds left against Stanford in 2013.
  • USC bested Texas in 2017 despite a poor rushing attack. Ronald Jones II led all runners with 47 yards.

Next. 48 Days to Kickoff