Trojans pumping out NFL talent

first_imgUSC is an NFL factory.rimsurrent NFL defensive stars Clay Matthews III, Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga and Jurrell Casey were all members of the 2008 Trojans football team. So too were Tyron Smith and Jordan Cameron, two exceptional offensive players in the pros right now.The 2008 season was bittersweet for the Trojans. A Rose Bowl victory over a talented Penn State side capped off a terrific campaign, but the national title game was seemingly within grasp.Oklahoma fell to a Tim Tebow-led Florida team in the natty, leaving Trojan fans forever wondering what could have been. USC’s only loss that season was a 27-21 defeat at Oregon State in late September.But alas, the playoff did not exist back then, so Sam Bradford and the Sooners got a shot at the Gators instead of the Trojans.That USC team may not have won it all, but the roster was packed with future NFL greats. But with the passage of time, those future pro players have become the present. Clay Matthews is one of the faces of the league right now, but it is also important to note that he will be 30 in just a few months.A new era of great NFL players is coming, and once again Trojans could very well be leading the charge. To find the next great Pro Bowl defensive tackle or a staple of a 2018 fantasy football roster, one might not have to look beyond the 2015 USC draft class.Leonard Williams, one of Troy’s all-time greats, just finished a strong rookie season with the New York Jets. The Big Cat recorded 63 total tackles and 3 sacks, and he showed that he is capable of defending both the run and the pass at the next level. Williams was a joy to watch during his time at USC and is continuing to light it up in the pros. What makes Williams’ rise even more fascinating is that the Jets were quite respectable this season and nearly earned a postseason bid. Jets head coach Todd Bowles has his team on the right track and the sixth overall pick from last spring figures to be a key part of the renaissance in the Meadowlands.Meanwhile, just an hour-and-a-half to the southwest, Nelson Agholor was busy putting together a sporty rookie campaign of his own. The 20th overall pick hauled in 23 balls for 283 yards and a score in 2015. While his numbers may not rival those of Oakland’s Amari Cooper or Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs, Agholor looks ready to explode sooner rather than later. The Eagles have been revamping the receiver position after parting ways with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in recent seasons. While Agholor was not the most statistically productive rookie wideout this season, his upside looks immense. He was targeted at least once in every game this season and could break out in 2016. Agholor, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff compose a menacing group of young pass-catchers for Philly.Javorius “Buck” Allen also enjoyed a solid opening season, rushing for 514 yards and a touchdown with the Baltimore Ravens. The former USC tailback got ample touches during the latter half of the season, including a 22-carry game against the Rams. While he never eclipsed the century mark in any games this season, Allen did haul in 12 balls for 107 yards and a score against the Dolphins in early December.USC fans will recall just how dynamic Allen was in the cardinal and gold, especially because of his ability to threaten opposing defenses as a receiver. His reliable hands were on display for the Ravens this season, which is great news for signal caller Joe Flacco. Allen averaged 16 carries over the last two games of the season and should be a lynchpin of the Ravens’ rushing attack for years to come.Though none of these three players got to play in the playoffs, they all showed promising signs in 2015. USC’s NFL pipeline is still thriving, and these three young playmakers all showed savvy and tremendous skill. Of course, Leonard Williams will continue to learn from his veteran teammates like Muhammad Wilkerson, while Agholor will grow alongside Jordan Matthews. Buck Allen will also be an interesting one to keep tabs on because he was quite the bell cow in some games for the Ravens this season.The Trojans have another talented draft class in 2016, and history tells us they will continue to turn heads as they make the leap from college to pro.Josh Cohen is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. His column, “Cohen’s Corner,” runs every other Tuesday.last_img

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