Friday, May 24, 2013
Ten transfers who made an impact
By Johnny Curren
There has been more drama than usual in college football this offseason as several players are looking to either transfer out of their current school or, in the case of a couple of to-be freshmen, be released from a National Letter of Intent. USC has emerged as a very real potential destination for at least two of these players: Texas Tech’s Delvon Simmons and Florida State's Matthew Thomas (who, with the Seminoles apparently hesitant to simply cut him loose, would likely also have to come in as a transfer).
And while USC isn’t a place that has ever had to rely heavily upon players transferring from other programs, the Trojans have certainly benefited from them in the past. Here are 10 players who began their careers at other universities, only to transfer to USC -- either directly or after a quick stop at a junior college -- and make a major impact as Trojans.
Rod Sherman, HB, 1964-1966 (UCLA/Pasadena [Calif.] CC)
Sherman was a standout halfback for the Trojans who was an All-Conference first-team selection in 1966 before going on to enjoy a successful career in the AFL and NFL. He’s best known, however, for hauling in a clutch touchdown reception from Craig Fertig in the waning moments of the fourth quarter against Notre Dame in 1964, securing a 20-17 upset victory over the then-No. 1-ranked Fighting Irish.
Bill Bain, OL, 1973-1974 (Colorado/San Diego [Calif.] CC)
A physical guard and tackle, Bain earned All-Pac-8 first team and All-American honors following a stellar senior campaign for the Trojans’ 1974 national championship team. Eventually selected in the second round of the 1975 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers, he played 11 years professionally.
Art Riley, DT, 1973-1974 (Northwestern/Chaffey [Calif.] College)
An Illinois native, Riley started at defensive tackle in both 1973 and 1974 at USC, lining up alongside Gary Jeter to give the Trojans an imposing presence in the interior of the line. An All-Conference first-team selection as a senior, he was picked in the second round of the NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings.
Brad Otton made the jump from Weber State and made a name for himself at USC.
Brad Otton, QB, 1994-1996 (Weber State)
Transferring to USC after a promising freshman year at Weber State, Otton shared the No. 1 quarterback role with Kyle Wachholtz in 1995 before taking over as the full-time starter in 1996. Currently ranked eighth in career completions (410) at USC, he is best remembered for his 29-of-44, 391-yard and two-touchdown performance against Northwestern in the 1996 Rose Bowl.
Justin Fargas, RB, 2002 (Michigan)
A prep phenom at Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame, Fargas originally spurned the Trojans in favor of the Wolverines coming out of high school, but eventually wound up at USC in the end. An aggressive north-south rusher, he was a key piece of the puzzle for a Trojans team that really got the ball rolling for Pete Carroll at USC in 2002 -- Fargas’ only campaign on the field for the Trojans. Starting the last five games of the season, he rushed for 715 yards and seven touchdowns, including 122 yards and two scores in the Trojans' 38-17 victory over Iowa in the Orange Bowl.
Melvin Simmons, LB, 2002-2003 (Washington State)
A physical and heady athlete, Simmons arrived at USC and made his presence felt immediately as the starting weak-side linebacker in 2002, his first year of eligibility for the Trojans. The No. 2 tackler for a loaded USC defensive squad that year, he finished his career with 126 tackles. He was also a team co-captain in 2003 and he won USC’s Courage Award.
Will Poole, CB, 2003 (Boston College/Ventura [Calif.] College)
Poole arrived at USC with just one year of eligibility remaining, but he certainly made the most of it. Giving the Trojans defense a lock-down performer at a cornerback position that lacked depth at the time, he started 11 games and racked up 80 tackles and seven interceptions. Garnering 2003 All-Pac-10 first team and AP All-American second-team honors, he also won USC’s Co-Special Teams Player of the Year award.
Frostee Rucker, DE, 2003-2005 (Colorado State)
Making the switch from linebacker to defensive end after an initial season spent on the scout team, Rucker emerged as the starting defensive end for the last half of his redshirt sophomore campaign -- a role he never relinquished. Compiling 111 tackles with 25.5 tackles for loss in his career, he was an All-Pac-10 first-team selection in 2005, and he helped the Trojans win two national titles.
Lofa Tatupu, LB, 2003-2004 (Maine)
Tatupu, the son of former Trojans fullback Mosi Tatupu, spent his freshman season at Division I-AA Maine before transferring to USC. A tireless worker who played much bigger than his 6-foot, 225-pound size might indicate, he started for two years at middle linebacker, was the leading tackler on USC’s 2003 and 2004 national championship teams and was a 2004 All-American.
Damian Williams, WR, 2008-2009 (Arkansas)
The lesser publicized of the Razorbacks duo -- along with quarterback Mitch Mustain -- who transferred to USC in 2007, Williams went on to make a much bigger name for himself as a Trojan than his counterpart. A fantastic route-runner with big-play skills to boot, he led the team in receptions and receiving yardage in both 2008 and 2009. He also returned two punts for touchdowns in 2009 and was awarded team MVP honors following the season.