USC's Top 20 Members of the Pete Carroll Era 2001- 2009
Pete Carroll was hired December 15, 2000 and was USC's third choice to be their new head coach after Dennis Erickson and Mike Riley. He replaced Paul Hackett as the USC coach after hackett was fired. It's safe to say everything turned out just fine.
Recently Carroll left for the NFL to coach the Seattle Seahawks but not before winning two AP national titles and a BCS championship, He also won five BCS bowls including four Rose Bowls and an Orange Bowl in 2002.
He also had other accomplishments like 33 straight weeks at number one of the AP poll a national record, and an astonoshing 25-1 record in November.
Here are Pete Carroll's top 20 players who played for him at his time at Southern Cal.
Keep in mind the order of the players is only reflected upon the players performance at USC not in the NFL.
20. Clay Matthews #47
Clay Matthews who currently plays for the Green Bay Packers is number 19 on the list. Only reason for that is that he really came on his last season at USC.
However, he made a huge impression. He had 57 tackles in his last year at USC, including 9 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks. He was part of that incredible linebacker group at USC in 2008 that included himself, Cushing and Maualuga.
Matthews waited his turn at USC and made it pay off. He went from being just a linebacker who provided solid depth to a star at USC. The guy was as sure a tackler as you would ever see. And he continues to prove that in the NFL.
19. Stanley Havili #31
Anytime you say that a fullback has the ability to play running back that is just a huge compliment. This can be said about Stanley Havili. A player who can lead block and run the ball effectively himself.
Lets not forget he can catch the ball out of the backfield with the best of them. Poor guy just happened to attend USC when they had the stable of running backs in Johnson, McKnight, Gable, Bradford and Tyler.
Still though it's important to know that Havili if needed can run the ball. Surely, Lane Kiffin this season will feed Havili the ball more this season And Havili will run the ball more this season than any other year in his career at Southern Cal.
18. Mark Sanchez #6
Mark Sanchez was the QB who followed Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and John David Booty. He had to follow three Qb's who endured a lot of success at USC especially Leinart.
Mark spent one season as the USC starter and enjoyed some of his own success in 2008 as he lead the trojans to an 12-1 record and a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State.
He was the MVP of the game as USC came out throwing the ball. The opposite of what many people thought they would do. His only year as a starter Sanchez threw for 3,207 yards and 34 touchdowns.
Mark Sanchez is currently the starting QB of the Jets. Selected 5th overall in the 2009 draft.
17. Sedrick Ellis #49
The most underrated and under appreciated parts of a football team are the offensive and defensive lines. It's a shame because without a solid offensive and defensive line other players them can't succeed and play as well as they'd like to.
Which brings me to Sedrick Ellis. The man was a beast at USC. A player who just dominated centers and guards up front. He sacked QB's but always knew his primary job was to stop the running game.
He had deceptive speed for a defensive tackle and like most great players at USC waited his turn behind MIke Patterson and in his first year as a starter had 50 tackles and recorded 4.5 sacks.
His senior year after deciding to come back to USC he had 58 tackles inclusing 12.5 TFL and 5 fumbles recovered.
16. Mike Patterson #99
Speaking of Mike Patterson. What Trojan fan did not like this outstanding player. A dominating defensive tackle who in the 2003 season recorded 55 tackles and 7 sacks.
He had USC coaches referring to him as unblockable. He was the most dominating precense on the USC defensive line during his time there. Patterson was just at a different level and in the next level he currently is a starter in Philidelphia for the Eagles.
He was the engine that made the USC defense go. It is such a blessing to have the ability to get pressure on a QB without blitzing. Patterson was always able to do that at USC.
15. Taylor Mays #2
I know that the picture is ironic because Taylor Mays was not happy with Carroll after he selected Earl Thomas out of Texas instead him in this years NFL Draft.
The fact of the matter is that Taylor Mays was apart of three Rose Bowl winning teams. He had a fantastic career at USC as the enforcer of the USC defense.
The only reason it was not a legendary career was due to his senior year at USC not being very impressive. He started showing his flaws in coverage and in the mental parts of the game.
Still though after taking over the starting job in 2006 after Josh Pinkard got injured he never gave it back. He never gave it back because of his outstanding performance. Mays was a three time first team All-American (2007-2009) and a Jim Thorpe award finalist in 2008.
14. Brian Cushing #10
As consistent a linebacker you will ever see. Clay Matthews was the one with the famous father and Rey Maualuga was the flashy hard hitter. Cushing was under the radar.
You had to see him play to appreciate his craft. The USC defense was definitely better with him on the field. He would rarely miss a tackle and would show up in the big games.
He would always come up with some type of big play. Whether it was an interception a sack or an important stop on third down.
Cushing's senior year at Southern Cal he had 73 tackles, 10.5 TFL and 3 sacks.
He currently plays for the Houston Texans and last year won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, well deserved.
13. Steve Smith #2
Steve Smith not the wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers but the New York Giant and former Trojan. He won two national titles and along with Dwayne Jarrett were arguably the best receiver tandom in the country.
Steve was and still is a possession receiver who is very good at his craft. His best year was the 2005-2006 season, his senior year. So he like many other players went out with a bang.
Smith had 1083 yds receiving and scored 9 touchdowns that year. Never as flashy as Jarrett or Mike Williams but just as productive. A solid number 2 receiver who is currently the number one receiver on the Giants.
12. Rey Maualuga #58
Rey Maualuga is arguably the best linebacker to play at USC during the Pete Carroll era. He was flashy and was most known for his long hair and hard hits.
He was a very productive backup linebacker at USC his freshman year in 2005 and in 2006 became the starter. Started 10 games and played in 13, recording 78 tackles.
In 2007 he lead the team in tackles with 79 and had 10.5 tackles for a loss.The best year by far for this physical specimen was the 2008 season. as he was the leader of a fantastic defense that won a Rose Bowl.
Rey is currently with the Cincinatti Bengals and was their first round pick in the 2009 Draft.
11. Winston Justice #74
Winston Justice currently a starting offensive lineman for the Philidelphia Eagles was in my opinion the best offensive lineman of the Pete Carroll era.
He rarely made a mistake and did a fantastic job at protecting Matt Leinart's blindside. He lead the very good offensive line at USC that allowed Smith, Jarrett, White, Bush and Leinart to do what they do best.
Justice would be in the top 5 of this list but his student conduct violation that caused him to be ineligible for the 2004 season has him at #10 on this list. Still though a great player at USC who is having a solid NFL career at the RT position for the eagles.
10. Keith Rivers #55
USC fans love Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews but do you guys remember Keith Rivers. The man who wore the most prestigous number in the USC defense that was worn by the likes of Junior Seau.
The #55 jersey has to be bestowed upon you by the head coach and Keith Rivers very much deserved it. His Junior and senior year he was an enforcer in the middle of the field.
Those two years he combined for about 160 tackels and 12.5 TFL.
He was rewarded by being selected 9th overall by the bengals in the 2008 NFL Draft.
9. Lofa Tatupu #58
Before there was Rey Maualuga there was another talented player to rock the cardinal and gold USC #58 jersey. He went by the name of Lofa Tatupu.
He currently plays for the Seattle Seahawks and is reunited with his college coach for the first time in six years. While at USC Tatupu was a dominating force. He transfered in 2002 from Maine.
His best year was 2003 where he lead the team in tackles with 98 including 11.5 TFL 3 sacks and 4 interceptions. Tatupu showed up in the biggest games.
Which that year were the Auburn, Oregon State game and the Rose Bowl game against Michigan that propelled USC to an AP national title.
Rey Maualuga is the most recent popular USC linebacker of samoan descent to wear #58. However, one should not forget the past.
8. Mike Williams #1
Mike Williams was the first great wide receiver of the Pete Carroll era. He was selected by the Lions in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, 10th overall.
His NFL career has not panned out although he is currently trying to right the ship in Seattle with Pete Carroll. His freshman season, he had 81 receptions for 1,265 yards and 14 touchdowns.
These are both USC and Pac-10 freshman records. In 2003 he had 95 receptions for over 1,300 yards in 13 games and scored 16 touchdowns. That is very impressive.
He was first team All- American that year. A clear cut number receiver who could take over the game. He will never be forgotten by Trojan fans because of his contributions to the team
7. Dwayne Jarrett #8
Dwayne Jarrett was the number one receiver for the 2004-2006 USC Trojan teams and was a dynamic player. He had to replace Mike Williams and did so successfully.
In his freshman year he had 55 receptions for 849 yards and 13 TD's. He also had 5 rec for 155 yds in USC's Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma that sealed the national championship that year for the Trojans.
By his sophmore year he had become Matt Leinart's favorite target. And though USC eventually lost the Rose Bowl to Texas it was not his fault. As he had 10 rec for 121 yds and a TD.
He will of course mostly be remembered for his 4th and 9 catch and run in the 2005 "Bush Push"game.
Jarrett was a great Trojan indeed.
6. Lendale White #21
LenDale White was Reggie Bush's back up at USC but he could have started for any other team in the country during his college years. He ran for over 2,500 yards in 2004 and 2005 rushing for 39 touchdwons.
One of his best performances was against Texas in the 2006 national championship game. He had 20 carries for 124 yards and 3 touchdowns and clearly outplayed Reggie Bush in that game.
Reggie was the more popular one and well deserved but LenDale definitely made the university and the trojan fans proud with the way he played at USC.
Every big back that goes to USC in the near future will now have to deal with comparisons to LenDale White. Just a testament to his greatness at USC.
5. Carson Palmer #3
Carson Palmer won the Heisman trophy in 2002 and his jersey is retired. Isn't that enough to explain why he is #5 on this list of Trojans.
Palmer became the only the second true freshman at USC to start at QB. He did so in the ninth game of the 98-99 season. His senior year in 2002 was Palmer's best year by far.
Carson's stats that year went like this, he completed 309 of 489 passes for 3,942 yards with 33 TD's and only 10 INT's. He became the first Trojans QB to ever win the Heisman.
That year he also led USC to its first BCS bowl victory over Iowa in the Orange Bowl 38-17. He might not have been the most successful QB of the Carroll era at USC. However, he was certainly the most gifted.
4. Troy Polamalu #43
Troy Polamalu is the best player in the NFL to have come out of USC in the last decade. His accomplishments as a professional are well known but he had quite a few accomplishments as a trojan as well.
Troy was a hybrid player his first year playing both safety positions and in his sophmore year became the starter at SS. He finished second on the team with 83 tackles.
However, Those two years he was playing for Paul Hackett. So one might ask what did he do under Pete Carroll. Well in 2001 his junior year he became the first safety to since 1989 to become 1st team All-American.
That year as team captain Polamalu finished with 118 tackles 3 sacks and 3 interceptions of which two were returned for touchdowns. Polamalu was one of the greatest Trojans of all time.
3. Matt Leinart #11
Matt Leinart was a god at USC. So much so he returned for his fifth year and took only one class, a ballroom dancing class.
He was the most successful QB during the Carroll era and was productive from his first road start as a Trojan starter at Auburn. He won many awards like the Walter Camp award in 2005.
In 2003 Leinart threw for 3,556 yards and 38 TD's with just 9 interceptions. He finished 6th in the Heisman voting that year. Leinart led the Trojans to an AP national title that year.
As for the Heisman, Leinart took care of that in 2004 as a junior. He won the award by throwing for 3,322 yards with 33 TD's and only 6 interceptions. Not only did he win the greatest individual honor in college football but he lead USC to a 55-19 beating over Oklahoma.
In that game Leinart completed 18-33 for 332 yards and 5 TD's. In 2006 he entered the NFL draft a year too late many experts believed. Chosen #10 overall by the Cardinals after he could have been the #1 pick the year before. Still though Trojan fans are eternally greatful.
2. Reggie Bush #5
Every running back to go through USC in the future with any shred of hype and big play ability will be compared to USC great Reggie Bush.
Now off the field he is the reason along with OJ Mayo why USC is currently on probation. But on the field the man was the most electrifying player to play at USC during the Carroll era, maybe even of all time.
Reggie was the lightning to LenDale White's thunder and he along with Matt Leinart were the faces of not just USC but all of College Football.
Reggie won the Heisman his last year at USC as a junior. The game that clinched the Heisman for him was the Fresno State game on November 19, 2005.
In that game Bush had 294 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns. That's not all, he also had a total of 513 all purpose yards easily breaking the old mark of 368 yds set by former Trojan Anthony Davis against Notre Dame in 1972.
Reggie Bush will always be remembered at USC fans no matter how hard the university tries to distance themselves away from him.
1. Norm Chow Offensive Coordinator
Now, I know what your thinking Norm Chow was not a USC player he was an offensive coordinator but just hear me out.
Chow became USC's offensive coordinator in 2001 and the USC offense would not be the same after. Under Chow the Trojans saw two players win the Heisman trophy. They were QB's Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart whom became the first two Trojan QB's to win the award.
USC won two national titles with Chow as the offensive coordinator and since he left in the spring of 2005 to become the Titans offensive coordinator the Trojan offense just has not been the same. Kiffin tried his hardest to bring Chow back to USC.
It did not happen but Kiffin knew how important he was to those early USC teams in the Pete Carroll era. He was the most important member on Pete Carroll's staff. He would handle the offense while Pete handled the defense. Chow just made everyone's life easier.