2 days to USC football: Olaijah Griffin, Devon Williams to carry on No. 2

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

The penultimate edition of Reign of Troy’s countdown to USC football’s 2019 season arrives with a look at No. 2, the jersey of All-Americans and young prospects.

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USC football is only two days away.

It may be a small number, but it has a mighty history with the Trojans.

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Here’s what you need to know about No. 2:

Who wore it best?

There is an argument to be made that the No. 2 has been USC’s most accomplished Jersey in history. Certainly of the 21st century.

The jersey was worn by “The Noblest Trojan of Them All” himself, Morley Drury, who quarterbacked the Trojans from 1925 to 1927. He picked up an All-American nod in his final season, along with a 10-minute standing ovation in his final outing at the Coliseum.

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Immediately following Drury, Marshall Duffield did the jersey proud by helping the Trojans to the 1928 national title then garnering all-conference acclaim in 1929 and 1930.

There was a stretch of relative quiet for the jersey until the 1990s when Erroll Small led USC in sacks in 1994. Then, the 2000s happened.

Kareem Kelly took over the number in 2000, the year after winning the Freshman Player of the Year Award in the Pac-10 in No. 82. His performances didn’t diminish in his new jersey. He led USC in receiving as a sophomore and junior, finishing his career as the leading pass catcher in Trojan history. He now sits sixth in that category.

Following Kelly there was Steve Smith, only the second player to be named an All-American in the jersey. Smith played his part during one of the most successful runs in USC history from 2003 to 2006. He finished his career with 190 receptions, eigth all-time, and 3,019 yards receiving yards, sixth all-time.

Next up, C.J. Gable twice led USC’s running back stable on offense, but it was on defense where the No. 2 really attracted the spotlight.

Taylor Mays is in rare company as one of just four three-time All-Americans in USC history. He was also the Pac-10 Co-Freshman of the Year in 2006, so there simply isn’t much more he could have accomplished in four years in cardinal and gold.

And yet, the legend of the No. 2 would only grow after Mays’ departure in 2009.

That’s because Robert Woods arrived in 2010 and set USC’s freshman all-purpose yards record. In 2011 he was a consensus All-American after breaking the Pac-12 single-season receptions record. By the end of 2012, he owned the Trojans’ all-time record for pass catching, a mark he still holds.

Who could possibly top all those accolades? Adoree’ Jackson, the Thorpe Award winning cornerback and consensus All-American who scored six receiving, four punt return, four kickoff return and one interception return touchdowns.

The next generation of No. 2’s looks plenty bright.

Olaijah Griffin swapped out his No. 4 in favor of the No. 2 during Fall Camp. It’s in the new jersey he is hoping to reach his potential after playing in eight games with mixed results as a true freshman in 2018.

He is in line to start in 2019, but he’ll need to see off true freshman Chris Steele for that job.

On the other side of the ball, Devon Williams’ sophomore campaign could hold just as much promise.

Given the strength of USC’s wide receiver corps, he holds little hope of starting, but his four receptions for 87 yards in 2018 gave a small taste of what he could become. His Spring and Fall Camp performances highlighted even more how much of a weapon he might be on endzone fades with his 6-foot-4 length.

Stats to know: 2

  • Back Mort Kaer was USC’s second ever All-American in 1926.
  • The first ever USC football coaches, Henry H. Goddard and Frank H. Suffel had a 2-0 record in 1888.
  • In 1977, USC topped UCLA 29-27 on a Frank Jordan 38-yard field goal with two seconds remaining.
  • In 1978, another Frank Jordan kick with two seconds left, from 37 yards this time, put USC up 27-25 over Notre Dame.
  • In 1981, No. 1 USC beat No. 2 Oklahoma when John Mazur found Fred Cornwell on a seven-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left.
  • Quarterback Michael McDonald threw touchdown passes on the first two passes of his career, the first in 2005 against Arizona for four yards and the second in 2006 against Washington for 20 yards.
  • Marqise Lee owns the USC record for most yards receiving in two consecutive seasons with 2,864 yards in 2011 and 2012. Marcus Allen holds the record for most rushing yards in two successive seasons, 3,990 in 1980 and 1981. That’s a Pac-12 record.
  • USC’s record in double overtime is 2-2 thanks to wins over ASU in 2000 and Texas in 2017. The Trojans lost their first two overtime contests, both double overtimes in 1996 against ASU and UCLA.

Next. 3 Days to Kickoff