18R. Jay Soward
CAREER: In his career, Soward has scored a touchdown every 6.9 times he has touched the ball (27 TDs on 186 plays) and those scores have averaged 49.5 yards (1,337 yards). He has had 21 plays of 40 yards or more (including 16 of 50-plus yards). Twelve of his receptions have been for 40-plus yards. He has scored a TD 4 different ways: 19 on receptions, 3 on kickoff returns (the NCAA career record is 6), 3 on reverses and 2 on punt returns. He has had 6 games with 100-plus receiving yards and 5 games catching at least 2 TDs. He has also had 6 outings with 200-plus all-purpose yards. He ranks third on USC's all-time kickoff return chart (1,178 yards) and eighth on its career pass catching list (110 grabs).
1999: The hyperactive and talkative Soward-one of college football's most exciting and explosive players-will start for his third season at wide receiver (flanker) as a senior in 1999 and also will be a premier kickoff and punt return specialist. He is a candidate for All-American honors (he was named to the 1999 Playboy pre-season All-American team as a return specialist and the 1999 pre-season All-American first team by The Sporting News and Athlon), as well as the Biletnikoff Award and the Mosi Tatupu Special Teams Award.
PAUL HACKETT SAYS: "There's nobody more explosive or exciting than R. Jay. We have to find more ways to get him the football this year. And he'll go into his senior year catching passes from an established quarterback for the first time in his career, which should really help him. He runs by people. He runs through people. He's just a marvelous football player. It's not just the talent. It's the energy he creates on the football field and how that permeates the rest of the team. Getting the ball in R. Jay's hands is a priority."
1998: Soward started at wide receiver for his second year as a junior in 1998 and also was a dangerous returner. Overall in 1998 while starting 11 games (he was suspended for the Purdue opener because of a team rules violation that occurred in the spring of 1998 and he saw limited action off the bench at UCLA because he was nursing an ankle sprain), he caught 44 passes for a team-high 679 yards (15.4 avg.) with 6 TDs, plus had 12 carries for 150 yards (12.5 avg.) with 1 TD. He also returned a team-leading 16 kickoffs for a 21.5 average and 7 punts for a 28.9 average, including 2 scoring punt runbacks (1 shy of the USC and Pac-10 season records). His 44 receptions tied him for 17th on USC's season pass catching list. He twice had 100-plus receiving games (California and Notre Dame) and twice caught at least 2 TD passes (San Diego State and Arizona State). He also had 3 games with 200-plus all-purpose yards (256 versus San Diego State, 226 versus Arizona State and 229 versus California). He made the 1998 All-Pac-10 second team and was 1 of 14 semifinalists for the Mosi Tatupu Special Teams Award. He was held out of the last half of 1998 spring practice to concentrate on his academics.
His 1998 debut was spectacular, as he scored 3 touchdowns and accumulated 256 all-purpose yards against San Diego State on just 9 plays (averaging 28.4 yards per play): he caught 4 passes for 94 yards (including TDs of 53 and 8 yards; he outleaped an Aztec defender on the 53-yarder, then broke free into the end zone), returned a punt 74 yards for another score (the first scoring punt runback of his career), had 69 rushing yards on 3 carries (including a 42-yarder on a lateral) and added a 19-yard kickoff return (he had a 34-yard scoring TD catch nullified by a penalty). Against Oregon State, he caught a game-best 7 passes for 82 yards, plus returned 2 kickoffs for 54 yards, and had a punt and a rush for 4 yards each for a total of 144 all-purpose yards on 11 plays. He was held in check at Florida State, running a reverse 20 yards, returning a kickoff 25 yards and catching a 5-yard pass. He had 226 all-purpose yards against Arizona State, including 91 yards with 2 TDs on 4 catches, 110 yards on 4 kickoff returns (a 62-yarder to open the second half set up his first TD catch on the next play), 2 punt returns for 20 yards and 2 rushes for 5 yards. He scored on 2 long plays against California, a 77-yard bomb and then an amazing 80-yard punt return (his second of the season), and had 229 all-purpose yards (105 on 4 catches, 22 on 2 kickoff returns, 22 on 2 rushes and the 80-yard punt runback). He scored twice at Washington State (on a 26-yard reverse and a 13-yard catch) despite getting just 87 all-purpose yards (including 45 yards on 3 catches). He was throttled at Oregon, catching just 3 passes for 9 yards and returning a kickoff 10 yards, and versus Washington, with just a 16-yard catch and 8-yard punt return. After returning the opening kickoff 36 yards at Stanford, he caught a 22-yard pass on the game's third play but sprained his ankle and was sidelined the rest of the day. He didn't practice the 2 weeks leading up to the UCLA game because of a severe ankle sprain and saw limited action against the Bruins, catching 3 passes for 22 yards. He had game highs in catches and receiving yards (7 for 124 yards) against Notre Dame, and also returned a punt 16 yards and ran 3 yards on a reverse. In the Sun Bowl against TCU, he caught a game-high 6 passes for 64 yards, plus returned 3 kickoffs for 52 yards and ran a reverse for 1 yard.
1997: As a starting wide receiver and return specialist in 1997, Soward again made quite an impact as a sophomore. Overall while starting all 11 games in 1997, he had 48 receptions (second on USC) for 831 yards (17.3 avg.) and 8 TDs. His 48 catches in 1997 tied him for 14th on USC's season pass catching list. He had 3 games with 100-plus receiving yards (California, UNLV and UCLA). He also returned 15 kickoffs for a 26.3 average (to rank 13th in the nation and third in the Pac-10) with 1 TD and 5 punts for a 7.4 average. And he carried the ball 6 times on reverses for 101 yards (16.8 avg.) with 2 TDs. He led USC in 9 statistical categories: receiving yards (831), receiving average (17.3), receiving touchdowns (8), total TDs (11), rushing average (16.8), kickoff returns (15), kickoff return yardage (394), kickoff return average (26.3) and kickoff return TDs (1). He averaged 1 touchdown every 6.7 times he touched the ball in 1997 (11 TDs on 74 plays) and the distance of his TDs averaged 45.5 yards (500 yards). He made the 1997 All-Pac-10 second team as an all-purpose player. He missed the last half of 1997 spring practice because of a dislocated finger on his left hand.
In the 1997 opener against Florida State, he caught 4 passes for 48 yards. Then against Washington State, he returned the second half kickoff 95 yards for a TD (the third of his career-halfway to Trojan Anthony Davis' NCAA career mark of 6-and his second versus the Cougars), plus he also caught 4 passes for 37 yards, returned 2 punts for 7 yards and ran 8 yards on a reverse. He caught 2 spectacular TD passes at California (a 33-yarder as he spun out of the grasp of a defender and raced down the sideline and a 65-yard bomb over 2 defenders; he almost had a third TD catch, as he was stopped on the 1-yard line after a 25-yard grab); on the day, he caught a then-career-best 7 passes for 148 yards (both game highs) and returned 2 kickoffs for 29 yards. He caught a pair of fourth-quarter TDs (44 and 78 yards)-the second which proved to be the decisive points-against UNLV and finished with 5 grabs for a game-best 167 yards (he also returned a kickoff 15 yards). He was limited to just 2 catches for 19 yards and a 21-yard kickoff return at Arizona State. He grabbed an 8-yard TD pass at Notre Dame and overall had 3 catches for 46 yards, plus returned a kickoff 14 yards and ran a reverse 17 yards. He scored a 13-yard TD on a run off a reverse against Oregon and also caught 3 passes for 35 yards and returned both a kickoff (16 yards) and punt (8 yards). He was held without a catch at Washington, but returned a pair of kickoffs for 53 yards (including a 37-yarder) before suffering a mild concussion early in the second half and being sidelined. He bounced back in a big way against Stanford, catching a career-best 8 passes for 81 yards, including a 30-yard TD, and ran twice on reverses (once for a 23-yard TD and the other went 39 yards to set up a score); he also returned a kickoff 38 yards. At Oregon State, he caught 4 passes for 69 yards-including a 31-yard TD-returned 2 punts for 22 yards and had 1 carry for 1 yard. He equalled his career high with 8 catches for 181 yards against UCLA, including an 80-yard TD on USC's first offensive play (it was the longest Trojan reception of 1997), and returned 2 kickoffs for 54 yards. For the second year in a row, he was named USC's Player of the Game versus UCLA.
1996: As a wide receiver and kickoff returner, Soward turned out to be USC's big-play threat in 1996 as just a first-year freshman. He averaged a TD every 4.7 times he touched the ball in 1996 (7 TDs on 33 plays) and his TDs went an average of 66 yards each (463 yards). He was a 1996 All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick.
As an often-used backup wide receiver (he even started at Washington State) who appeared in all 12 games, he made 18 receptions for 507 yards (team-best 28.2 avg.) with 5 TDs in 1996. He entered the USC and Pac-10 record books on the receiving end of the longest offensive play (pass or run) in Trojan history and the longest pass completion in Pac-10 history when he caught a 97-yard TD bomb from Matt Koffler at Illinois. He had a then-personal-best 4 catches at Stanford for a game-high 77 yards, including a near-unbelievable 33-yard TD where he reached behind him to snag the ball and then zigzagged through the Cardinal defense. At UCLA the next game, he had a huge day as he caught 6 passes for 260 yards and 3 TDs (78, 60 and 19 yards). The yardage at UCLA was NCAA freshman (since broken), USC and UCLA opponent single game records, while the TDs tied the USC game mark. He was named USC's Player of the Game versus UCLA. He added 3 catches for 25 yards against Notre Dame.
He was also a dangerous kickoff returner, averaging 31.4 yards with 2 TDs on 14 runbacks (for 440 yards)-all team highs-in 1996 (his 31.4 average would have ranked second in the U.S. and tops in the Pac-10, but at 1.1 returns per game, he was just shy of the necessary 1.2 needed to qualify). He came up big at Arizona State, returning a fourth-quarter kickoff 98 yards for a TD (USC's first scoring kickoff return since Curtis Conway went 95 yards at ASU in 1992 and its longest since Anthony Davis went 102 yards versus Notre Dame in 1974). In the next game, at Washington State, he ran another kickoff back for a 78-yard TD (the first scoring kickoff return versus WSU in 4 years and the first time that a Trojan had more than 1 kickoff return for a TD in a season since Davis had 3 in 1974). That WSU outing helped him win Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week honors. He also had a 56-yard non-scoring runback at Houston and a 49-yarder versus Notre Dame. He also had 1 punt return for minus 1 yard.
HIGH SCHOOL: He made the 1995 Super Prep All-American, Bluechip All-American, Super Prep All-Farwest, Bluechip All-Western, Student Sports All-West Coast, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, Cal-Hi Sports All-State, All-CIF Southern Section, All-CIF Division I, Los Angeles Times All-Inland Empire first team (as a wide receiver) and second team (as a defensive back), Daily Bulletin All-Inland Valley, San Bernardino Sun All-San Bernardino County and All-Citrus Belt League as a senior at Fontana (Calif.) High. He had 32 receptions for 712 yards (22.3 avg.) with 10 TDs in 1995, plus 28 carries for 277 yards (9.9 avg.) with 2 TDs. On defense, he made 35 tackles, 8 deflections, 4 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery in 1995. Fontana was 11-1 in 1995.
As a junior in 1994 at Eisenhower High in Rialto (Calif.), he was named to the Cal-Hi Sports All-State Junior, All-CIF Division I, Daily Bulletin All-Inland Valley, San Bernardino Sun All-San Bernardino County and All-Citrus Belt League squads while grabbing 20 passes (10 for TDs).
He made won All-Citrus Belt League honors as a 1993 sophomore at Eisenhower, which went 14-0, won the CIF Division I title (Soward scored 2 TDs in the game) and was ranked No. 2 nationally (No. 1 in California).
He also played basketball (winning All-Citrus Belt League notice) and was a sprinter on the track team as a prepster (he was a finalist in the state 100 and 400 meters, with bests of 10.34 in the 100 meters, 21.7 in the 200 meters, and 49.5 in the 400 meters).
PERSONAL: He's a history major at USC. His real first name is Rodney. His brother, Marcus, was a defensive back at Arizona State (1992-95). His father, Rodney Sr., played high school football with ex-USC All-American and NFL All-Pro safety Ronnie Lott, and he also ran track. Soward's sports hero is ex-USC All-American and NFL No. 1 draft pick wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson.
R. JAY SOWARD ON:
WHAT OTHERS SAY:
R. JAY SOWARD CAREER STATISTICS
REC YDS AVG TD LG KOR YDS AVG TD LG 1996 (Fr.)... 18 507 28.2 5 97 14 440 31.4 2 98 1997 (So.)... 48 831 17.3 8 80 15 394 26.3 1 95 1998 (Jr.)... 44 679 15.4 6 77 16 344 21.5 0 62 CAREER....... 110 2017 18.3 19 97 45 1178 26.2 3 98
1998 REC YDS AVG TD LG KOR YDS AVG TD LG San Diego St.* 4 94 23.5 2 53 1 19 19.0 0 19 Oregon State* 7 82 11.7 0 19 2 54 27.0 0 37 Florida State* 1 5 5.0 0 5 1 25 25.0 0 25 Arizona State* 4 91 22.8 2 26 4 110 27.5 0 62 California* 4 105 26.3 1 77 2 22 11.0 0 11 Wash. State* 3 45 15.0 1 18 1 16 16.0 0 16 Oregon* 3 9 3.0 0 8 1 10 10.0 0 10 Washington* 1 16 16.0 0 16 0 0 0.0 0 0 Stanford* 1 22 22.0 0 22 1 36 36.0 0 36 UCLA 3 22 7.3 0 10 0 0 0.0 0 0 Notre Dame* 7 124 17.7 0 44 0 0 0.0 0 0 TCU (Sun)* 6 64 10.7 0 20 3 52 17.3 0 20 1998 (Jr.)... 44 679 15.4 6 77 16 344 21.5 0 62