A Trojan at Every Position: The 2009 All-USC NFL Team
USC football has become a dynasty.
They've won two National Championships in the last six years, they've won seven straight Conference Championships, and they have made seven straight BCS Bowl appearances.
There are 53 former Trojans playing in the NFL, including three Heisman winners (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Reggie Bush), and they've chalked up 25 Pro Bowl appearances. All but four teams in the NFL have at least one USC alum on their roster.
Perhaps more remarkable than that, however, is that with 11 players taken in the 2009 NFL Draft, USC now has enough active players in the NFL to field an entire team.
That's right—an entire team, filling every starting position, on offense, defense, and special teams.
So without further ado, let's take a look at the 2009 All-USC NFL Team. We'll start with the offense.
Starter: Carson Palmer (pictured at right)
Backups: Matt Cassel, Matt Leinart, John David Booty, and Mark Sanchez
You might recognize this list as the last four starting quarterbacks at USC, plus one who didn't even start (Matt Cassel backed up both Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart). Apparently there's no better way to get into the NFL than to begin under center at USC.
Palmer headlines the group and is clearly the starter, having made two Pro Bowl appearances and even winning a Pro Bowl MVP trophy. Cassel had a breakout season last year with New England and would be first off the bench. Mark Sanchez has a chance to move up in the depth chart based on how he performs with the New York Jets this year.
Starters: Justin Fargas
Backups: LenDale White, Reggie Bush, and Chauncey Washington
LenDale White and Reggie Bush shared time while at USC, so it's tempting to have them split time here. White has had the better NFL career, including a 1,000-yard rushing season with the Tennessee Titans, while Bush has always been the flashier athlete and bigger personality.
In all reality, though, Justin Fargas is deserving of the starting spot, as he has come into his own the past few seasons starting for the Oakland Raiders. White is first off the bench, especially in the red zone, to add some straight-ahead physicality.
Fargas is a bit of a technicality, in that he started his college career at Michigan before transferring and only playing one season at USC, but that one year qualifies him for the All-USC squad.
Starter: David Kirtman
Starting on the All-USC team will be the first time Kirtman has started in the NFL. He's bounced around to a few practice squads and active rosters, appearing in only one game for the San Francisco 49ers. But he's a fullback, and that's what counts.
Starters: Steve Smith and Keary Colbert (pictured at right)
Backups: Dwayne Jarrett and Patrick Turner
For a program that often has electric talent on offense, this is a surprisingly mediocre receiver corps. This is not the well-known WR Steve Smith that plays for the Carolina Panthers—this is the one with the New York Giants.
That doesn't mean Smith is a slouch, though, and he's become one of Eli Manning's most reliable targets—he led the Giants in receptions last year, even as the No. 3 receiver. He'll be the No. 1 target on the All-USC team. Though Keary Colbert has had several decent seasons, he has never measured up to the performance of his rookie year.
Dwayne Jarrett hasn't done anything amazing in the NFL in his two seasons and ironically only saw real time his first year when filling in for Colbert. Patrick Turner will be a rookie this year with Miami.
Starter: Billy Miller
Backup: Dominique Byrd and Fred Davis
Billy Miller starts on the end for the All-USC team. After a couple years with the Denver Broncos, he joined the Houston Texans in 2002 and scored the first points in history for the expansion squad. He is currently with the New Orleans Saints.
It's a tight race for backup—Dominique Byrd has played two seasons to date, registering six catches, while Fred Davis has three catches in one season.
Starter: Ryan Kalil
Backup: Norm Katnik and Matt Spanos
Ryan Kalil was the full-time starter for Carolina last year in his second NFL season. The two other USC centers in the league, Norm Katnik and Matt Spanos, are both free agents and most recently played on practice squads.
Starters: Deuce Lutui and Chilo Rachal
Deuce Lutui reigns as USC's all-time heaviest player, having weighed in at 370 pounds, and has been a full-time starter on the O-line for the Arizona Cardinals the past two seasons. Chilo Rachal started eight games for the 49ers last year as a rookie.
Starters: Sam Baker and Kyle Williams
Backups: Winston Justice and Drew Radovich
Sam Baker was a first-round pick of the Falcons last year and started five games. Kyle Williams has played in four games, including two starts for the Seattle Seahawks.
Winston Justice has started one game for the Philadelphia Eagles, and Drew Radovich was signed by the Minnesota Vikings last year as an undrafted free agent.
And now, the highly vaunted All-USC defense.
Starters: Junior Seau (pictured at right), Lofa Tatupu, and Willie McGinest
Backups: Darnell Bing, Keith Rivers, Thomas Williams, Rey Maualuga, Clay Matthews, Brian Cushing, and Kaluka Maiava
Linebacker is by far the deepest position on the All-USC squad—and still was even before four more were drafted this year.
Junior Seau has had the most prolific career of any active USC player, with 12 Pro Bowl appearances, seven First Team All-Pro selections, and even being selected to the NFL 1990's All-Decade team. Tatupu has been voted into the Pro Bowl during all three of his seasons in the league and has led the Seahawks in tackles every year as well.
This team is even well equipped for a 3-4 defense, as Willie McGinest is the next LB out of the gate with two Pro Bowl appearances, three Super Bowl rings, and the record for most postseason sacks (16).
Keith Rivers was second in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting last year, and a lot is expected out of Rey Maualuga, Clay Matthews, and Brian Cushing as rookies this coming season.
Starters: Kenechi Udeze and Lawrence Jackson
Backups: Frostee Rucker, LaJuan Ramsey, and Kyle Moore
Kenechi Udeze makes the team as a starter despite being on injured reserve for the Vikings. He was diagnosed with leukemia last February and hasn't played since, but he is still under contract with the team and intends to come back to play if his health stabilizes enough.
Lawrence Jackson played in every game for the Seahawks last year, though his numbers weren't quite as big as many hoped.
Frostee Rucker has climbed into the Cincinnati Bengals' active roster, starting four games last season and playing in 11. LaJuan Ramsey has bounced around to a few different rosters and currently sits with the Titans; Kyle Moore was drafted in the fourth round this year by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Starters: Mike Patterson and Sedrick Ellis
Backups: Shaun Cody and Fili Moala
As a rookie in 2005, Mike Patterson led the entire Eagles' defensive line in tackles with 38. He was also responsible for a 98-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in 2006.
Sedrick Ellis has a bright future after putting up 30 tackles and four sacks for the Saints last year as a rookie—which was enough to make him the second starter on the All-USC team.
Shaun Cody played four seasons with the Detroit Lions, racking up 91 tackles, and then signed with the Texans out of free agency in March. Fili Moala was drafted this year by the Indianapolis Colts.
Starters: Terrell Thomas and Brian Kelly
Backup: Cary Harris
Brian Kelly entered the league in 1998 and in 2002 led the league in interceptions en route to helping the Buccaneers win a Super Bowl title. He moved to the Lions last year and is now a free agent.
Terrell Thomas registered 45 tacks and a pick in his rookie season last year with the Cardinals. Cary Harris was drafted this year by the Buffalo Bills but has yet to be signed.
Starters: Troy Polamalu (pictured at right) and Sammy Knight
Backup: Kevin Ellison
Troy Polamalu is another defensive star of the All-USC team, having racked up five Pro Bowl appearances, two first-team All-Pro selections, and a couple of Super Bowl rings. Plus, he's got great hair.
Between Seau, McGinest, Tatupu, and Polamalu, this is a defense rich in strong leaders and consistent producers. Seau and McGinest were at USC before the Pete Carroll era, but they all come from the Trojans' strong tradition of shutdown defense.
Sammy Knight, now a free agent after being released by the Giants, anchors down the other safety spot and made a Pro Bowl himself in 2001. Kevin Ellison is a rookie this year, drafted by the Chargers but not yet signed.
And finally, special teams.
Starter: David Buehler
David Buehler was drafted this year by the Dallas Cowboys.
Starter: Tom Malone
Tom Malone entered the league playing for the 49ers' practice squad in 2006. He was later waived and signed by the Patriots, who proceeded to waive and re-sign him three more times.
Not only has USC been a dominant force in college football for the past decade, they've also been complete. They have at least one active player in the NFL at every position, and they go 10 deep with their alumni linebackers.
Fight on, indeed.
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