Dennis Thurman, one of USC’s and the NFL’s outstanding defensive backs, returned to his alma mater in January of 1993 to share his playing and coaching knowledge. He is in his eighth season handling the Trojan secondary.
USC safety David Gibson was a 1999 All-Pac-10 first teamer. In 1998, USC cornerback Daylon McCutcheon and safety Rashard Cook were named to the All-Pac-10 first team. Trojan cornerback Brian Kelly was a 1997 All-Pac-10 first teamer. In 1996, McCutcheon won All-Pac-10 first team honors. USC has played in 4 bowls during his tenure: 1993 Freedom, 1995 Cotton, 1996 Rose and 1998 Sun.
Thurman, 44, was a 2-time All-American (1976-77) safety and 4-year letterman (1974-77) at USC, playing for John McKay and then John Robinson. He was a member of the 1974 Trojan national champions and played on Trojan teams that won 4 bowl games. In his Trojan career, he had 13 interceptions (tied for sixth on Troy’s all-time list) and returned 2 for TDs. He added 169 career tackles, 11 deflections and 4 fumble recoveries, plus 28 punt returns and 2 kickoff returns. He led the conference in interceptions in 1976 with 8. During his first 2 years at USC, he played both safety and flanker (overall, he started 5 games at flanker, catching 3 passes and running 7 reverses).
Thurman then spent 9 years as a cornerback and safety in the NFL, his first 8 seasons (1978-85) with the Dallas Cowboys (he was an 11th round draft pick) and then 1986 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He had 36 career NFL interceptions, and played in the 1979 Super Bowl and 1981 Pro Bowl. He never missed a game during his 137-game career.
After his playing career, Thurman became an assistant coach. He was the secondary coach for the Phoenix Cardinals under Gene Stallings for 2 years (1988-89), then was the defensive coordinator of the World League’s Ohio Glory in 1992 (he was out of coaching in 1990 and 1991).
His brother, Junior, was a Trojan defensive back in 1985-86. Dennis earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from USC in 1978.
Born April 13, 1956, Thurman was a 3-sport star at Santa Monica (Calif.) High.
Thurman is the father of 2 daughters: Chelsea, 16, and Jade, 11.