Projans: Stafon and "Big" Mike

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Coming out of the Seahawks-Titans preseason clash on Saturday night, the USC related headlines were supposed to be about Pete Carroll making his return to the NFL.

Instead, two former players provided the emotional highs and lows of the night.

Mike Williams was one of the initial pieces of the Trojan turnaround under Carroll.  He helped Carson Palmer win a Heisman and Matt Leinart win the AP national title.

He made a one-handed catch that froze time at the Coliseum and he created a legacy in the #1 jersey that Lane Kiffin still holds dear today.

Sadly, Williams has been an NFL bust.  After being forced to sit out a year caught in between an NFL lawsuit and an NCAA no-returns policy, he gained weight and lost his explosiveness.

With loyalty at least playing a role, Carroll has provided Williams a last chance saloon in Seattle.  On Saturday night, Williams showed that he might make good.

Midway through the 2nd quarter, Williams broke a tackle and flashed the brilliance that he regularly displayed during his time in the cardinal and gold en route to a 51-yard TD catch and run.

"Big play by Mike Williams, it was fun to see Mike make a play for us, and get into the end zone," Carroll bubbled after his first preseason win in Seattle.

As the live drama continued to unfold, the Trojan script took a turn for the worse.

Stafon Johnson was the emotional heartbeat of USC the last few seasons.  The Dorsey product grew up in the shadow of the Coliseum and was even dubbed "the prince of LA" by radio personality Petros Papadakis.

Of course, Johnson's senior year ended in a shocking twist when he accidentally dropped a weightlifting bar on his throat.  While the blow would have been tragic for the common man, Johnson's strength pulled him out of the darkness and back onto the football gridiron less than a year later.

Even better, he was thriving under the NFL's lights Saturday, rushing for 23 yards on only three carries, when he dislocated his ankle.

The injury will keep him out 8-12 weeks, according to Titans coach Jeff Fisher, but the disappointment of another setback made the moment hard to watch. 

In tears on the field, his former coach came from the far sideline and delivered a message.  "I told him I loved him, and nobody could be stronger or tougher about coming back, and he'll be back as soon as anybody could ever get back.  He's been through way worse," Carroll said.

If we know anything about Johnson, he will not let it get him down.  Out of surgery, he immediately had a Tweet for his fans.

"Thank u 2 everybody that sent up a prayer 4 me this is jus another bump in the round ill b good."

It was just supposed to be preseason game one for Carroll and his Seahawks against Fisher and his Titans, but it turned into a referendum on Trojan perseverance.



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