With its outstanding football heritage, it's no surprise that USC players have made quite a mark in the pros.
At the start of training camp this summer, there were 55 ex-Trojans on National Football League rosters, including 11 rookies. In fact, USC players were on the rosters of 28 of the NFL's 32 teams. Most of the Trojans were linebackers (11), offensive linemen (11), defensive linemen (8) and defensive backs (8). In 2013, there were 40 Trojans on opening day NFL rosters, more than from any other school (since records were available, USC has been No. 1 in 19 of the last 38 years). The Trojans had more quarterbacks (4) on opening day rosters in 2013 than any other school. USC also had the most linebackers (10) and tied for the most of any school at offensive tackle (4) and center (3).
USC has produced more NFL draft picks (483) than any school but Notre Dame (484), along with 28 picks by the AFL before it merged with the NFL. USC and Michigan are the only schools with an NFL draftee every year since 1939. There have been 471 USC players who since 1920 played in the NFL (or its sister leagues, the AFL or All-America Football Conference).
USC has had more first round NFL draft picks (77) than any school (Ohio State is next with 71). USC is tied with Notre Dame and Auburn for most players (5) selected as the top pick of the NFL draft (Ron Yary in 1968, O.J. Simpson in 1969, Ricky Bell in 1977, Keyshawn Johnson in 1996 and Carson Palmer in 2003). USC is the only school to have the No. 1 pick for 2 consecutive years (Yary and Simpson). USC has had three of the most highly-drafted classes in history. The 1953 class (following the 1952 season) had 15 players drafted while both the 1975 and 1977 classes had 14 players selected. USC had more players selected in the 2011 (9), 2009 (11), 2008 (10), 2006 (11) and 1990 (10) drafts than any school. USC had more players drafted than any school in the 10-year period from 2002-11 and 5-year period from 2007-11. USC's 12 first round picks in the 1990s tied for third most in the nation with Tennessee; 8 of those Trojan first rounders were selected in the Top 10. In the decade of the 1980s, Troy had more first round picks than any school (16). USC's 5 first round picks in the 1968 draft was an NFL record that lasted 36 years.
A Trojan has appeared in all but 5 of the 48 Super Bowls (there have been 107 USC representatives overall). Three Trojans (Lynn Swann in 1976, Marcus Allen in 1984 and Malcolm Smith in 2014) have been the Super Bowl MVP. In 1977, 9 USC alums played in the Super Bowl. Trojans have been selected to play in the Pro Bowl 221 times.
Eleven former USC players (more than any other school) and 3 ex-assistant coaches are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A 2010 ESPN.com survey ranked USC as "the most fertile NFL draft pipeline" from 1979 to 2009. In 2010, Lindy's Sports listed USC as the "football factory" for quarterbacks, running backs and offensive linemen.
In 2009, ESPN NFL draft analyst and former NFL head coach Herm Edwards said: "If you want to play pro football and you're a young high school athlete, you know going to USC is going to give you the best opportunity system-wise and competitive-wise on the field. That's what USC brings to the table. That's why historically, year after year, you see all these players coming into the league."
Fellow ESPN NFL draft analyst and ex-NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski added: "It's fierce competition every day you go out on the USC practice field. Not only on Saturday when they play the game. Every day they're competing at the highest level."
In 2008, the NFL Network selected USC as the No. 1 "football factory" in college football.
Anthony Munoz and Ronnie Lott were selected on the NFL's All-Time Team in August 2000, as chosen by the 36 Pro Football Hall of Fame voters.
A December 1999 story in The Sporting News listed 4 Trojans among the 100 Greatest Pro Football Players: Anthony Munoz (17th), Ronnie Lott (23rd), O.J. Simpson (26th) and Marcus Allen (72nd).
Anthony Munoz was picked among the NFL's Top 10 players of the 20th century by SPORT in 1999.
In December 1999, the Dick Butkus Football Network named a pair of ex-Trojans on its NFL All-Century First Team: Anthony Munoz and Ronnie Lott.
A January 1999 article in ESPN Magazine said that "one of the best ways to win a Super Bowl is to (have a USC player on the team). The alma mater most often represented on winning teams is USC."
A Dec. 13, 1999 article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, which examined Pro Bowl selections since 1950 to determine the schools that have supplied the most pro players at various positions, found that USC had the most Pro Bowl selections and produced more Pro Bowl running backs and safeties than anyone.
A May 1999 SPORT magazine article pointed out that USC sent more players to the Pro Bowl in the 1990s (14) than any other school. "The most measurable sign of a player's success--and thus his pedigree--comes in the form of the NFL's highest annual honor: the Pro Bowl. It's not enough to make it to the league, you've gotta make it in the league." In the article, then-New York Jets Pro Bowl wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, the former USC All-American, said: "USC is a football factory. Every kid in L.A. grows up wanting to play there, and the coaches know how to translate that into elite athletes."
In a Dec. 1994 College Sports magazine ranking of the schools which have been the top sources over the years of football talent by position (on a combined college and NFL level), USC was listed first at running backs, offensive linemen and defensive backs, and third at linebackers.
In a 1985 Sports Illustrated poll of NFL player personnel directors, USC was ranked first overall among all schools in preparing players for the pros. By position, USC received top marks for running backs, offensive linemen and tight ends.
USC Players in the NFL in 2014
Carson Palmer, QB
Sam Baker, T
Keith Rivers, LB
Wes Horton, DE
Rey Maualuga, LB
Jordan Cameron, TE
Tyron Smith, T
Winston Justice, T
Reggie Bush, RB
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Clay Matthews, LB
Brian Cushing, LB
Stanley Havili, FB
Allen Bradford, LB
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Joe McKnight, RB
Damian Williams, WR
Matt Cassel, QB
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Armond Armstead, DL
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
*George Uko, DT
NEW YORK GIANTS
Charles Brown, T
David Ausberry, TE
Matt Barkley, QB
Troy Polamalu, S
ST. LOUIS RAMS
T.J. McDonald, S
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Shareece Wright, CB
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
*Kevin Greene, TE
*Dion Bailey, S
Jurrell Casey, DT
*Silas Redd, RB