3 days to USC football: A tremendous trio of No. 3 Trojans

RoT Countdown / Photo by Stephen Dunn (Getty Images)
RoT Countdown / Photo by Stephen Dunn (Getty Images) /

USC football’s 2019 season approaches, with just three days left in the countdown. Three Trojans warrant discussion in the No. 3 jersey.

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USC football will return to action in three days.

Fresno State awaits on Saturday, but as it is still Wednesday, time still needs passing and jersey numbers still need examining.

CHECK OUT: Which USC and Fresno State units have the edge?

Today, it’s all about the special trio in No. 3:

Who wore it best?

The No. 3 has fittingly produced three All-Americans in USC history.

The first, Curtis Conway, actually started his career at Nebraska because he didn’t qualify academically for USC, but he was so determined to be a Trojan, he quickly enrolled in junior college and made sure he got a chance to wear cardinal and gold.

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Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times explained how Conway’s particular skillset had USC’s coaches in a bit of a pickle: “He had been a quarterback in high school. He was a world-class sprinter—10.28 in the 100—so he could be a wide receiver. He hit hard, so he could be a tailback. He could backpedal and jump, so he could play cornerback or safety. And he could change direction on a gum-wrapper while running at 20 m.p.h. so he could return kicks.”

In the end, USC put the ball in Conway’s hands and the “Comet” repaid them with two team MVP seasons in 1991 and 1992.

Another wide receiver, Keyshawn Johnson, was the the next to grab All-American acclaim. What Conway brought to the table with speed, Johnson took to the next level with size.

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The former USC ball boy also joined the Trojans from the junior college ranks and used his rare combination of 6-foot-4 length and speed to take the Pac-10 by storm. He led the conference in receiving in both 1994 and 1995.

He played 23 games for USC in total. He had 17 100-yard games in that span.

Both Conway and Johnson were highlighted as Heisman Trophy candidates, but it took a quarterback in 2002 to finally put that honor on the No. 3.

Carson Palmer’s road to the Heisman was certainly winding. A freshman phenom, he took over as the starter right away, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing from there. In 1999 he suffered a season ending injury and took a medical redshirt. When he returned in 2000 he threw more interceptions than touchdowns as USC floundered under Paul Hackett.

MORE: Who will be USC’s offensive MVP?

The talent was there though and Pete Carroll brought in offensive coordinator Norm Chow to get the most out of it.

Before the 2002 season, Carroll was pushing back against the perception that Palmer’s career had been a disappointment. By the end of that campaign, legendary announcer Keith Jackson was calling Palmer “as good as any player I’ve seen.”

Palmer completed 63.2 percent of his passes with 3,942 yards and 33 touchdowns en route to recognition as the nation’s best player.

No one. The No. 3 is among the


six jerseys displayed at the Coliseum as retired by USC because of Palmer’s Heisman victory.

Stats to know: 3

  • Back Morley Drury was USC’s third ever All-American in 1927.
  • The lowest winning score in USC history was 3-0 over the 21st Infantry in 1917. The Trojans lowest losing score was 3-0 to Stanford in 1935 and Oregon State in 1967.
  • In 1965, Mike Garrett became the first player in USC and conference history to lead both in rushing for three consecutive years.
  • In 1973, USC topped Stanford with a Chris Limahelu kick at the three-second mark in regulation.
  • USC’s 45-42 victory over UCLA in 1999 featured three touchdowns in the final three minutes and nine seconds of play.
  • In the 1995 Cotton Bowl, Keyshawn Johnson set a bowl record with three touchdowns.
  • Trailing 21-0 going into the fourth quarter against Washington in 1995, USC scored three touchdowns to tie.
  • Kenechi Udeze had three sacks in the 2004 Rose Bowl versus Michigan.
  • In 2005, Matt Leinart completed an epic victory over Notre Dame with a quarterback sneak touchdown with three seconds left.
  • Rey Maualuga had three sacks in USc’s 2008 Rose Bowl win over Illinois.
  • USC has participated in three triple overtime games in history, losing all three to Oregon 33-30 in 1999, Cal 34-31 in 2003 and Stanford 56-48 in 2011.
  • USC is the only team in history to win three consecutive Rose Bowls, from 2007 to 2009.

Next. 4 Days to Kickoff