34 days to USC Football: An opportunity for Eli’jah Winston

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

Historically, USC football’s No. 34 jersey has been all about the run game. Now, freshman linebacker Eli’jah Winston will look to provide a defensive flair.

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It’s just 34 days until the 2019 USC football season begins with a Week 1 date with Fresno State. To celebrate the inching closer of gametime, RoT’s Countdown takes a look at the Trojans’ No. 34.

Let’s dig in, if you can.

Who wore it best?

Larry Stevens is the lone All-American to don the No. 34 for USC, having earned the honor in 1933. In a three-year career, he played guard on a line with a bevy of talent, including two-time All-American guard Aaron Rosenberg, All-American tackles Tay Brown and Ernie Smith, and center Stan Williamson.

It’s no secret they were the life blood of Howard Jones’ title teams, including the back-to-back crowns in 1931 and 1932, both of which featured Stevens. The Trojans were 30-2-1 with him on the field, highlighted by a 27-game unbeaten streak and the first-ever win over Notre Dame in 1931.

READ MORE: Looking Back at USC’s Historic Comeback Win over Notre Dame in 1931

While never a captain, Stevens was an inspirational player, evidenced by winning the Davis-Teschke Award as a senior. He then stuck around and coached the freshmen under assistant Jeff Cravath, who would eventually be named USC’s head coach in 1942.

Other notable No. 34s include tailbacks Ricky Ervins and Hershel Dennis. The former was the 1990 Rose Bowl MVP and ranks 14th on USC’s all-time rushing list with 2,337 career yards.

As for Dennis? He was the Trojans’ second-leading rusher on the 2003 national championship team, before his career was derailed by injuries.

Who wears it now?

Redshirt freshman linebacker Eli’jah Winston will sport the No. 34 in 2019 for the Trojans. He recorded one tackle during his four-game trial run as a true freshman a year ago, and now looks for a more substantial role.

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Winston saw a good share of first-team reps at the strongside outside linebacker position during spring camp, splitting time with Hunter Echols. The position’s expected to give defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast some flexibility in various packages, primarily in terms of pass rush.

While Winston doesn’t have the experience of Echols, neither player has a hold on the position, keeping it a battle to watch in fall camp.

Stats to know: 34

  • USC’s 34th All-American was offensive tackle Ron Mix in 1959.
  • Pete Carroll’s Trojans set a school and Pac-12 record with a 34-game winning streak from 2003 to 2005.
  • USC has traveled to 34 different states to play football, while also being televised on 34 different TV stations.
  • Marcus Allen led USC in receiving with 34 receptions during his Heisman-winning campaign in 1981. Meanwhile, Sam Cunningham hauled in 34 catches during his career.
  • Safety Mark Carrier accumulated 34 pass deflections as a three-year starter with the Trojans.
  • Frank Gifford earned All-American honors as a do-everything playmaker for the Trojans in 1951. That season included 34 punts from him.
  • All-American quarterback Orv Mohler scored 34 career touchdowns while leading the Trojans to back-to-back national championships in 1931 and 1932 under Howard Jones.

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