Part two of Scout’s decade look-back on Trojan football alumni. Click here for part one. Part three will be up in a few days...
2005 NFL Draft.
This year birthed one of the most successful draft classes in USC history. Such personal success goes hand-in-hand with winning football
games. The Trojans were undefeated in 2004 under Carroll.
Most know Mike Williams’ story. If not, here’s a refresher: Williams was drafted 10th overall by the Lions. An incredible receiver, Williams has played professionally under current head coach Lane Kiffin as an Oakland Raider as well as Pete Carroll at USC and now as a Seattle Seahawk. Despite taking two seasons off from professional
football, Williams had a stellar season in 2010 and was awarded a three-year contract extension.
Second in this draft and just 20 picks back from Williams (31st overall) was Mike Patterson, a defensive tackle chosen by the Philadelphia Eagles. Patterson has long-term plans to stay in the City of
Brotherly Love per his contract that runs through 2016. He is a huge part of the Eagles’ defense, both literally (6-1, 300+ pounds) and metaphorically.
Shaun Cody is another defensive lineman, who is currently with the Houston Texans. After a great four years at USC the Detroit Lions took
him in the second round and played with the Lions through 2008.
Samoan linebacker Lofa Tatupu was also drafted in the second round. He has been with the Seattle Seahawks since leaving USC, joining a few other former Trojans who have had the same coach both in college and the NFL.
Matt Cassel’s story could almost be made up. After being drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round—watching many quarterbacks being
taken before him, as Tom Brady and newbie Ryan Mallett have done---Cassel made noise in New England. When given an opportunity, he made good use of it and the Kansas City Chiefs took notice, who traded for the quarterback in 2009. In two seasons as the main signal-caller in Missouri, he has averaged a 81.5 percent completion rate
In the 2005 supplemental draft, defensive tackle Manuel Wright, a backup to previous draftee Shaun Cody, was taken by the Miami Dolphins. As of 2010 he was playing in Stockton, Calif. in the Arena Football League. But he is still most known as the lineman that Nick Saban made cry.
2006 NFL Draft.
At one point the Trojans went 12-1 in the 2004 season with a loss in the Rose Bowl, but those results are now vacated.
That “vacation” is a result of second overall pick, running back Reggie Bush, a name Trojans know all too well. He currently plays for
the team that drafted him, the New Orleans Saints. Not much more needs to be said.
Second from that class is Bush’s fellow Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart. The quarterback hasn’t had as much professional success as he
did collegiate, playing backup to expected Hall of Famer Kurt Warner with the Arizona Cardinals. And while Leinart signed with the Houston Texans last season, he is not currently listed on their roster and will look to join another team in 2011 as a free agent.
In addition to Mike Patterson, the Eagles grabbed another mainstay tackle - but on offense - in Winston Justice. Justice was drafted in the
second round (39th overall) and his contract runs through 2013.
The Cardinals took two Trojans that year, the second going to offensive guard Deuce Lutui two picks after Justice (41st overall). He was a huge part of Arizona’s run to the Super Bowl in
2009. He’s started every game at right guard for the past four seasons.
LenDale White is another familiar name. A running back not implicated in any scandals, White was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the
second round. The power back has had a rocky time in the league, suffering minor injuries and character issues. To top them off, he was
released by his former coach Pete Carroll after the Titans traded White to the Seahawks. After getting a break with the Denver Broncos in 2010, he suffered an injury before season started. He has hopes to play again in 2011.
Frostee Rucker was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals but didn’t make an impact until his third season. Since 2008, though, he has been a
staple and a large reason the Bengals won their division in 2009. In 2010, the defensive end had 17 total tackles and a sack.
Also in the third round was tight end Dominique Byrd. Like his round, Byrd has been with three different NFL teams, the St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals and current team Seattle Seahawks.
Darnell Bing is another player with a rocky tenure in the NFL. Initially drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round, he
battled injury and was released, signed and then waived by various teams. Currently the linebacker is a free agent.
David Kirtman is another free agent. Drafted in the fifth round, the running back has not had as much football success as Bush or White.
He’s been a member of various NFL practice squads. However, his business acumen was sharp as he currently lives in Japan and works for
Merrill Lynch in investment banking.
Defensive tackle La Juan Ramsey backed up fellow Eagles draftee Mike Patterson at USC, and did so again in Philadelphia. Unfortunately his
career was not as stable as Patterson and while he spent time in the UFL, he is no longer listed as a current player.
Rounding out this stacked class is guard Fred Matua, who was taken by the Detroit Lions in the seventh round. In 2009 he was signed by a
team in the United Football league but is no longer listed as a current UFL player.
2007 NFL Draft.
The Trojans went 11-2 under Carroll in another year that cemented USC’s college football dominance.
No first-rounders in this year’s draft but wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett was taken one round later by the Carolina Panthers (45th overall). After being released in 2010 after two DUIs, he worked out with the Seattle Seahawks that November.
One Trojan that has been the model of success is wide receiver Steve Smith. Picked in the second round by the New York Giants, his first
year in the league Smith helped Eli Manning and co. win a Super Bowl. The following season the Giants won the NFC East. But his breakout
year was 2009, where Smith had more than 100 receptions for a whopping
1,220 yards and was selected to the Pro Bowl. He is currently training in Los Angeles during the NFL lockout.
While there’s a receiver named Steve Smith on the Carolina Panthers, it was the following Trojan, offensive lineman Ryan Kalil, who was
drafted by them. Kalil, like Smith, has a younger brother, current Trojan and left tackle Matt Kalil. Ryan’s journey in the NFL has been
the epitome of stable. A two-time Pro Bowler, the Panthers put their franchise tag on Kalil this year. He is currently training in Southern
California during the lockout.
Unlike Smith and Kalil, Trojan linebacker Dallas Sartz has not had the best professional football career. Selected in the fifth round by the Washington Redskins, Sartz was a practice squad member for various teams from 2007-2008.
Rounding out this class is another linebacker, Oscar Lua, who was drafted in the seventh round by the New England Patriots. He is
currently the Vice President of the Trojan Club of the Desert, a group for USC alumni living near Palm Springs, Calif.