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USC Trojans All-Time Lists

Ranking USC football's best NFL stars of all-time

Alicia de Artola
Feb 7, 2021, 10:24 AM PST
Former USC football safety Troy Polamalu with the Steelers.
Former USC football safety Troy Polamalu with the Steelers. | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
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9. Willie Wood

Former USC football quarterback Willie Wood with the Packers.
Former USC football quarterback Willie Wood with the Packers. | Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Willie Wood holds a special place among the Trojan greats who have made the Pro Football Hall of Fame; He was never drafted.

Wood played quarterback at USC, but as a black QB, his chances of breaking into the pros in the 1960s was zero. The trouble was, at 5-foot-10 and 190-pounds, he didn't fit the physical build the NFL was looking for at safety either. He showed them.

Thanks to a tryout with the Green Bay Packers, Wood made it into the league and proved he could make all the plays despite his stature.

He started 12 of 14 games in 1961 and made a name for himself on special teams with an NFL-best 16.1 yards per punt return. Then he grabbed a Pro Bowl selection in 1962 as a defender. His nine interceptions led the league.

From start to finish, Wood was a danger-man in the secondary. He had 48 interceptions in his career and returned them for 699 yards with two touchdowns.

Wood finished his career with five first-team All-Pro votes and eight Pro Bowl appearances. He was also a five-time NFL Championship winner and two-time Super Bowl winner.

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