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Charles White Dies at Age 64; Former USC RB Won Heisman Trophy in 1979

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 12, 2023

College Football: USC Charles White (12) in action, rushing vs Oregon State at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Los Angeles, CA 10/21/1978
CREDIT: Peter Read Miller (Photo by Peter Read Miller /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
(Set Number: X22827 TK1 R2 F11 )
Set Number: X22827 TK1 R2 F11

Former USC football star Charles White died from cancer Wednesday at the age of 64, the school announced:

USC Trojans @USC_Athletics

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FightOnForever?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FightOnForever</a>, Charles White. <br><br>The 1979 Heisman Trophy winner, who won a national championship with USC in 1978 and went on to make the College Football Hall of Fame, died today in Newport Beach. He was 64. <a href="https://t.co/iH0ANvslSM">pic.twitter.com/iH0ANvslSM</a>

The running back won the Heisman Trophy in 1979 and was a key part of the 1978 Trojans that won a national championship.

White was a first-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 1980, although the Southern California native found his most success later in his career with the Los Angeles Rams. He spent nine total seasons in the NFL.

His best year in the NFL came in 1987, when Rams star Eric Dickerson was traded to the Indianapolis Colts three games into the season. White took over and totaled 1,374 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, leading the league in both categories. He was named first-team All-Pro, earned his only Pro Bowl selection and won the league's Comeback Player of the Year award.

White is still best known for his college career, which saw him total 6,245 rushing yards across four seasons, which still stands as USC's all-time record. The mark currently ranks fifth in NCAA history, although it was No. 2 at the time behind only Tony Dorsett.

During his final collegiate season, White tallied 2,050 yards on the ground with 19 touchdowns to secure the Heisman Trophy.

"He was the toughest player I've ever coached," said John Robinson, who coached White with both USC and the Rams. "He was really unusual in that regard. He was a great player and just loved playing the game. Those are the things I remember the most. He was a really tough guy, and he was an extremely gifted athlete. But the toughness…wow!"

After his playing career, White returned to USC and spent time as an assistant coach before getting an administrative job at the school.