Goodbye to Buck, and good luck

Buck Allen is headed to the NFL after a special career at USC. No one came farther faster than the young man from Tallahassee. We wish him well.

It was always interesting, the dynamic of Buck Allen deciding to go compared to Leonard Williams and Nelson Agholor. Buck was the "swing" guy with Leonard absolutely a no-brainer and Nelson the guy you could make a strong case to stay.

Buck was different. For him -- and for those around this football team -- we knew he should go but wanted him to stay. Selfishly, as much as we knew it was time for Buck to move on, we wanted him to remain a part of this team. Saturday's official announcement makes it clear he won't be. But the hope has to be that his tough-minded Trojan spirit will remain.

"USC junior RB Javorius 'Buck' Allen has decided to forgo his final season of eligibility and declare for the 2015 NFL Draft," USC announced Saturday. And so one of the more special careers, athletically and academically, when measured from where he started to where he finished up, is over.

But the memory of Buck's fourth-team-to-first-and then-MVP season in leading USC to 10 wins in a tumultuous 2013 and then following that up with an All-Pac-12 first-team selection in 2014 when he led the league in all-purpose yardage (149.8 yards a game) lives on.

He's run for 100 or more yards in 13 of USC's last 19 games and often was the one Trojan that opposing defenses were trying to take out.

And yet he managed six straight 100-yard rushing games in a season where he ran for for 1,489 yards with 11 touchdowns in addition to 41 receptions for 458 yards. Those six straight 100-yard-plus rushing games gave him the longest since Marcus Allen's 11 straight in 1981.

Buck's 13 games of 100-plus yards from scrimmage were unmatched in the nation this season. And with 276 carries in 2014, Buck ran the ball more than any Trojan in 30 seasons -- since Fred Crutcher carried it 307 times in 1984.

"This was a tough decision for me," Buck said in an official announcement released by USC. "I went home to Florida and talked it over with my family. I am proud to have been the first one in my family to have gone to college, and I've been blessed to say I played football in college. Now I'm ready to take it to the next level. Every kid dreams of this moment."

Buck's statement continued, a tribute to how vocal and expressive the once quiet kid from Tallahassee, Fla. has become in his 3 1/2 years at USC. "This has been a long journey. There are so many I want to thank, starting with God, who made this all possible. I want to thank President Nikias for the opportunity I had at this great university and all of those who impacted my life at USC, including all our fans. I want to thank Pat Haden and J.K. McKay, for accepting me and always being there for me."

But the graciousness and inclusiveness continued: "I want to thank Coach O for trusting in me when he took over last year and Coach Tommie Robinson for putting his job on the line last year by giving me the chance to play. And now Coach Sark and his staff for molding me as a man and as a complete person on and off the field. I had a great year with Coach Sark and his staff. I also appreciate all the help I got from our equipment and training staffs, who met all my needs. And especially everyone in our Academic Services department, who did such a great job supporting me and making my experience at USC better every day. Fight On!"

But the person who did the most to discover and develop and mold Buck Allen into the person who has made himself, his family and -- we can say this now, all of us who believed in him -- so proud of him is Buck Allen himself. We won't see someone like Buck come along for quite a while. This was a special, if unpredicted, match made in college football, not to mention college, heaven.

"Buck is a true Trojan and we wish him well," Steve Sarkisian said. "He is not only a good football player, but a fine young man. We are grateful for what he did at USC. We asked a lot of Buck this year and he came through with an All-Pac-12 season. We know he can do more of the same in the NFL."

We know he can, roo. We also know how much we'll miss him. Buck & Co. are the reason USC has managed to survive what the NCAA tried to take away from the Trojan program the last four years. Buck, who was here for the whole time, wouldn't let that happen.

Here are the numbers for Buck:

*** In 2014, he ran for 1,489 yards with 11 TDs and with his 41 receptions for 458 yards, led the Pac-12 in all-purpose yardage (149.8 average).

*** He made the 2014 All-Pac-12 first team and was a semifinalist for both the Doak Walker Award and Maxwell Award.

*** He is the only player in the nation in 2014 with 13 games of 100-plus yards from scrimmage. His 276 carries in 2014 are the most by a Trojan since Fred Crutcher’s 307 in 1984.

*** Allen is 14th on USC’s career rushing chart with 2,306 yards and 25 TDs. He has 13 career 100-yard games (8 in 2014), all within the past 19 games. His streak of 6 consecutive 100-yard rushing games in 2014 was the longest since Marcus Allen had 11 in a row in 1981.

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