23 days to USC football: Freshmen look to put No. 23 on the field early

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

Reign of Troy’s countdown to kickoff continues with a look back at Chauncey Washington, and ahead to Kenan Christon and Kaulana Makaula.

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While Thursday is the three-week mark to football for some schools, it’s T-minus 23 days until the 2019 USC football season gets underway at the Coliseum against Fresno State.

The number 23 might be iconic at basketball, while names like Michael Jordan, LeBron Jones and Harold Minor, it’s been a number waiting for a story for be told with it at USC.

Let’s dive in.

Who wore it best?

Chauncey Washington took a while to make his mark at USC, but the former Trojan running back currently sits as the top No. 23 in school history.

A highly touted back out of South Torrance High School, he got to Troy in the same 2003 recruiting class as Reggie Bush and LenDale White. Yet he had to take a backseat to Thunder and Lightning, missing two seasons due to academic ineligibility.

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After the most prolific duo in school history departed, Washington was appointed as a feature back in the rotation. A two-year starter for USC in 2006 and 2007, the physical runner accounted for 1,700 rushing yards while helping lead the Trojans to a pair of Rose Bowl victories.

Who wears it now?

Two freshmen will don the No. 23 in 2019 for the Trojans: running back Kenan Christon and defensive back Kaulana Makaula. Both come to USC as three-star prospects looking to earn playing time. Both have an intriguing upside while getting here quickly.

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Christon is the fastest high school sprinter in the history of California, tying Riley Washington’s 100-meter dash record at 10.3 seconds. His ridiculous speed is an element the Trojans don’t have in the backfield, which could enable him to play an early role in Mike Jinks’ rotation as a change-of-pace option.

For Makaula, the recruiting process was a slow one until it heated up in the final month. He had a strong showing in the Polynesian Bowl, committed to USC and was a signee all within a few weeks. Despite being expected to play safety, he has seen time at corner in camp and has played admirably for a true freshman.

Stats to know: 23

  • Grenny Landsell was USC’s 23rd All-American, earning the honor as a back on the Trojans’ 1939 national championship team.
  • The Trojans have scored 23 points exactly 21 times, including a bizarre game in 2011. Matt Kalil blocked Utah’s would-be game-tying field goal attempt as time expired, which was returned for a touchdown by Torin Harris to clinch a victory in the first-ever Pac-12 game. But due to a discrepancy in a penalty interpretation on the final play, the points weren’t officially counted until two hours after the game. It’s now a 23-14 USC win in the books.
  • OJ Simpson ran for a then-record of 23 rushing touchdowns in his Heisman Trophy winning season of 1968, while Sam Cunningham had 23 career touchdowns.
  • Dynamic Trojan receivers Johnnie Morton and R. Jay Soward each caught 23 touchdown passes while at USC.
  • All-Pac-10 first-teamer Willie McGinest registered 23 tackles for loss in 1992, the third-most in school history, behind Tim Ryan’s 28 in 1989 and Kenechi Udeze’s 26 in 2003.

Next. 24 Days to Kickoff