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The USC football Mount Rushmore of stellar defensive backs

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Defensive back Adoree' Jackson #2 of the USC Trojans reacts against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Defensive back Adoree' Jackson #2 of the USC Trojans reacts against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Ronnie Lott is a legend among USC defensive backs. (Dan Honda/Getty Images)
Ronnie Lott is a legend among USC defensive backs. (Dan Honda/Getty Images)

USC football has produced some of the greatest defensive backs of all time, making a Mount Rushmore both easy and difficult to compile.

With Mount Rushmore’s of quarterbacks and wide receivers already compiled, it’s time to turn eyes onto the defensive side of the ball.

USC football has been blessed by a whole host of special defensive players, with some of the greatest coming in the secondary.

Here is a look at the four players who make up USC’s Mount Rushmore of DBs:

Ronnie Lott

Any exploration of the most iconic USC defensive backs has to begin with Ronnie Lott, the legendary safety.

Before Lott established himself as a star in the pros, before he won Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers, before he made his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Lott made his name in the cardinal and gold from 1977 to 1980.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound safety was a super athlete, capable of doing everything imaginable on the football field. But it was the mentality he brought that elevated him above his peers.

After USC walloped John Elway’s Stanford in 1980, the San Francisco Examiner quoted Lott saying, “We took it to them. Whether they were catching or blocking or running, we hit them. That was our defensive theory.”

It was Lott’s broader philosophy too. When a ball carrier needed hitting, he hit them. Hard. He amassed 250 tackles and 22 tackles for loss in his Trojan career. When he needed to defend the pass, he did that too. He broke up 37 passes all told, with 16 in 1980 alone. And when his team needed the ball back, he delivered. He was tied for first in the NCAA with eight interceptions in 1980. In total, he had 14 interceptions at USC. He added 10 fumble recoveries as well.

Lott was a unanimous All-American as a senior in 1980. Two years earlier he helped USC win a national championship.

He remains one of the most heralded Trojans of all time. In 2015, he was declared the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Century.

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