A look back at the 2002 recruiting class

Taking a look back at an extremely important recruiting class for SC, it's struck me how many of them played as freshmen. One huge reason for that was the depth chart wasn't stacked. Also, 18 of those guys had a major impact while they were at SC. Some from the get go, some at the very end of their careers,like Kyle Williams. Six guys are still on the team.

What I've provided are the details about when the guys began making their mark at SC, stats, what injuries and position changes there were. Some of you might not remember some of the names and might not realize there were position changes for a few.

One key player not mentioned as a commit was Justin Fargas. IMO he was every bit the difference maker Mike Williams was that season. Without Fargas' toughness and speed, the passing game may not have flourished the way it did. The Trojans began dominating teams offensively when Fargas healed and became the starter at Oregon.

I'll have the 2003/2004 recruiting classes Friday and the 2005/2006 on Monday.

FIVE STARS:

Manny Wright (DT) 2003: Wright was a backup defensive tackle behind Shaun Cody as a first-year freshman in 2003. Overall in 2003 while appearing in nine games (all but Auburn, California, Arizona State and Washington), he had eight tackles, including two for losses of 10 yards (with an eight-yard sack), plus three deflections.

2004: Wright was an often-used and effective backup defensive tackle behind Shaun Cody as a sophomore in 2004 and even started twice (BYU and Arizona) when Cody moved to end. Overall in 2004 while appearing in 11 games, he had 23 tackles, including six for losses of 17 yards (with 2 sacks for 10 yards), plus he deflected two passes and recovered two fumbles. He made 2004 All-Pac-10 honorable mention.

2005: Selected in the fourth-round of the NFL supplemental draft as a sophomore.

Darnell Bing: 2003: After enrolling at USC in the spring of 2003, Bing emerged as the starting strong safety as a first-year freshman in 2003. Overall in 2003 while starting all 13 games, he had 69 tackles (fourth on USC), including two for losses of three yards, plus a fumble recovery, two interceptions that he returned 34 yards (17.0 avg.) and five deflections. He made the 2003 The Sporting News, Scripps/Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American first team, Collegefootballnews.com and Rivals.com Freshman All-American first teams and All-Pac-10 honorable mention squad, as well as being named to the 2003 The Sporting News Pac-10 All-Freshman first team (and he was Defensive Freshman of the Year).

2004: Bing started for his second season at strong safety as a sophomore in 2004 and made an impact. Overall in 2004 while appearing in 12 games, he had 63 tackles (third on USC), including eight for losses of 22 yards (with 0.5 sack for five yards), plus seven deflections, two forced fumbles and two interceptions that he returned eight yards (4.0 avg.). He sprained his shoulder in 2004 fall camp (he did not start the Colorado State or BYU games because of that) and then again prior to the California game, which sidelined him for that contest. He made the 2004 All-Pac-10 second team and the Collegefootballnews.com Sophomore All-American first team.

2005: Started at strong safety for the third straight season. Bing had fifty tackle (36 solo/14 assisted), two and half tackles for loss (four yards), six pass deflections, four interceptions for 119 yards and one touchdown for 65 yards. Bing was drafted by the Raiders in the fourth round.

Winston Justice (OL):Winston started 12 games as a true freshman (all but the Auburn game) earning Freshman All-American first team and All-Pac-10 freshman first team honors. In 2003 he earned All-American honorable mention honors and missed the 2004 season because of a student conduct violation. Winston returned in 2005 and was the starting right-tackle. He was drafted by the Eagles in the second round.

FOUR STARS:

Tom Malone: 2002:[/b] Malone, who graduated a semester early from high school and enrolled at USC in the spring of 2002, did a nice job as USC's punter as a freshman in 2002. He was USC's first true freshman punter since John Stonehouse in 1992. Overall in 2002 while appearing in all 13 games, he averaged 42.1 yards on his 62 punts. Some 28 of his 62 punts kept foes within the 20-yard line and 12 traveled at least 50 yards (including a 72-yarder). He made 2002 The Sporting News Freshman All-American second team, Rivals.com Freshman All-American honorable mention, All-Pac-10 honorable mention, Rivals All-Pac-10 honorable mention and The Sporting News Freshman All-Pac-10 first team. He also was the holder on all placekicks.

2003: Malone, in his second season as USC's punter, proved to be the nation's top punter as just a sophomore. Overall in 2003 while appearing in all 13 games, he averaged 49.0 yards on his 42 punts. Some 24 of his 42 punts went at least 50 yards and 28 pinned opponents within the 20-yard line.

2004: Malone was in his third season as USC's punter as a junior in 2004. He has proven to be a weapon whenever he boots the ball. Overall in 2004 while appearing in all 13 games, he averaged 43.8 yards on 49 punts. He ranked ninth nationally in punting (43.8, first in Pac-10). A total of 30 of his 49 punts in 2004 pinned opponents within the 20-yard line and 13 traveled at least 50 yards (with a pair of 62-yarders). He was a semifinalist for the 2004 Ray Guy Award.

2005: Tom was hampered by a nagging groin injury the entire season, but still managed a 41.2 average on 32 punts. His career average of 44 yards per kick was just .1 yard shy of tying the SC record. 56 of his 185 punts went for 50 yards or more and 95 pinned the opponents inside the 20 yard line.

Dallas Sartz: 2003: Started the last six games of his sophomore season last 6 games for an injured Matt Grootegoed. Overall in 2003 while appearing in all 13 games, he made 60 tackles, including six for losses of 29 yards (with two sacks for 17 yards), plus had four deflections and a blocked punt.

2004: Sartz started all of his 2004 junior season at strong side outside linebacker and did an outstanding job. Overall in 2004 while appearing in all 13 games, he had 48 tackles, including 3.5 for losses of 11 yards (with 1.5 sacks for five yards), plus six deflections and an eight-yard interception. He made 2004 All-Pac-10 honorable mention.

2005: Sartz began his 2005 senior season starting for his third year at strong side linebacker. But he dislocated his left shoulder early in the Arkansas game and was sidelined the rest of the season, allowing him to redshirt. Overall in 2005 while starting USC's first two games, he had eight tackles, including 2.5 for losses of six yards (with two sacks for minus five yards).

Hershel Dennis ( 2002: Overall in 2002 while appearing in all 13 games, he ran for 198 yards on 49 carries (4.0 avg.) with one touchdown, caught four passes for 23 yards (5.8 avg.), returned nine kickoffs for 151 yards (16.8 avg.) and had a tackle for a loss of 34 yards (on a punt at UCLA). He got his first carries at Colorado, where he ran for 32 yards on five carries and caught a four-yard pass.

2003: Dennis started all of his 2003 sophomore season at tailback. Overall in 2003 while starting all 13 games, he rushed for 661 yards on 137 carries (4.8 avg.) with four touchdowns, plus caught 10 passes for 62 yards (6.2 avg.) with one touchdown. In his first career start, he ran for a career-best 85 yards on 21 carries at Auburn, including a second-effort 14-yard touchdown.

2004: Dennis was a reserve as a junior in 2004. He also played on special teams. Overall in 2004 while appearing in nine games (all but Virginia Tech, Colorado State, California and Oklahoma), he ran for 109 yards on 28 carries (3.9 avg.) with a TD and made a tackle. He tore ligaments in his left knee in practice prior to the Orange Bowl, ending his 2004 season.

2005: Dennis redshirted his 2005 senior season while recuperating for torn knee ligament surgery performed in January of 2005 (he was sidelined for 2005 spring practice).

Fred Matua: 2002: Matua was set to start the opener against Auburn at offensive guard (he also was available at center) as a freshman in 2002, his first year at USC. But he sprained his right knee in 2002 fall drills and that kept him out of the lineup against Auburn (he did see backup action in that contest). He then aggravated the injury prior to the Colorado game and missed that contest, returned to see brief action at Kansas State, then had arthroscopic surgery on the knee prior to the Oregon State game and was sidelined the rest of the season. Because of the early-season injury, he was allowed to redshirt. After the season he had hernia surgery.

2003: Matua started the first 6 games of 2003 at right offensive guard as a redshirt freshman, and then backed up John Drake for the next 5 contests (seeing action in each game). He reentered the starting lineup against Oregon State and Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Drake suffered a season-ending injury against UCLA. He made the 2003 Collegefootballnews.com Freshman All-American second team and The Sporting News Pac-10 All-Freshman first team.

2004: Matua started for his second season at right offensive guard as a sophomore in 2004 and performed solidly. He recovered a fumble following an interception at UCLA. He played most of the season with a tender left ankle and back, both of which he sprained in fall practice. He made the 2004 Collegefootballnews.com Sophomore All-American first team.

2005: Fred had an outstanding senior season and was a member of an offensive line that blocked for two Heisman Trophy winners. He was drafted by the Lions in the fourth round. He's currently a on the Brown's roster.

Kyle Williams: 2002: Williams redshirted as a freshman offensive tackle in 2002, his first year at USC.

2003: Williams was a backup offensive right guard and played on special teams as a redshirt freshman in 2003. He appeared in 12 games in 2003 (all but BYU), all on the PAT/field goal protection team. He also saw brief action on the offensive line in seven of those games (Hawaii, Arizona State, Stanford, Notre Dame, Arizona, UCLA and Oregon State). He was switched from offensive tackle to guard in 2003 spring drills.

2004: Williams was an often-used backup at right offensive tackle and also played on special teams as a sophomore in 2004. He appeared in 12 games (all but BYU) in 2004.

2005: Williams served as a key backup offensive tackle and played on special teams as a junior in 2005. He appeared in 12 games in 2005 (all but Arizona State). He was used often in extra offensive linemen formations near the goal line.

2006: Williams has started at right tackle the first seven games of the season and has improved each week.

Dominique Byrd: 2002: Byrd was a backup tight end and special team's player as a freshman in 2002, his first year at USC. In 2002 while appearing in 12 games (all but Kansas State), he had one reception for 10 yards (at Stanford) and made two tackles (both at Oregon). He also worked some at defensive end early in the season, but never saw action there.

2003: Byrd was expected to be a key backup tight end as a sophomore in 2003, but when an injury sidelined Alex Holmes all season, Byrd emerged as the starter for the first 6 games and he excelled. But he tore ligaments in his left knee against Stanford, had surgery and was sidelined the remainder of the 2003 season. Overall in 2003 in those 6 games, he caught 14 passes for 268 yards (19.1 avg.).

2004: Byrd had quite an impact at tight end as a junior in 2004 in USC's final nine games. He missed the first four games (Virginia Tech, Colorado State, BYU and Stanford) after breaking his left kneecap in a pickup basketball game just before 2004 fall practice began. But when he returned, he was impressive. Overall in 2004, he had 37 receptions (fourth on USC) for 384 yards (10.4 avg.) with three touchdowns, plus he had one carry for one yard. All of his catches were in the last 8 games. He made 2004 All-Pac-10 honorable mention. He missed 2004 spring practice while recuperating from a knee injury.

2005: Had 29 receptions, down from 37 in 2004, for 306 yards (10.6 avg./up from 10.4 in 2004) and zero touchdowns (down from three in 2003). Byrd was drafted in the third round by the Rams.

Jason Mitchell: 2002: Mitchell, a junior college transfer who enrolled at USC in the spring of 2002 as a junior, was a backup wide receiver and played on special teams in 2002. But he suffered a stress fracture in his lower back prior to the Oregon State game and was sidelined the rest of the 2002 season. Because of the early-season injury, he was allowed to redshirt. Overall in 2002 while appearing in USC's first three games, he returned three kickoffs for 35 yards (11.7 avg.), but he did not catch a pass.

2003: Mitchell was a reserve as a junior in 2003. Overall in 2003 while appearing in all 13 games, he had 2 receptions for 27 yards (13.5 avg.) and returned 2 kickoffs for 24 yards (12.0 avg.). He had a 21-yard reception at Arizona and an 18-yard kickoff return against Hawaii.

2004: Mitchell had 13 receptions for 161 yards (17.4 avg.) and scored two touchdowns. Danny Urquhart (LB): 2002: Urquhart redshirted the 2002 season after transferring to USC in the fall of 2002 from a Los Angeles Southwest as a junior defensive end. He missed the Auburn opener with a sprained ankle suffered in 2002 fall practice. He was sidelined for the rest of season because of an elbow infection he suffered prior to the Colorado game

2003: Daniel had 20 tackles (14 solo/six assisted) and one pass deflection.

THREE STARS:

Justin Wyatt: 2002: Wyatt was a backup cornerback and played on special teams as a freshman in 2002, his first year at USC. He played often in extra defensive back formations. Overall in 2002 while appearing in all 13 games, he had 10 tackles, a deflection and two fumble recoveries. Plus he returned a punt for 16 yards (vs Arizona State).

2003: Wyatt was moved from cornerback to wide receiver in 2003 spring drills and was switched back to cornerback in the middle of his 2003 sophomore season. He played often, first as a backup wide receiver, then in extra defensive back situations. He also played on special teams. Overall in 2003 while appearing in all 13 games, he made 10 tackles, caught three passes for 20 yards (6.7 avg.) and returned three kickoffs for 41 yards (13.7 avg.).

2004: Wyatt started all season at cornerback as a junior in 2004 and did an exemplary job. Overall in 2004 while appearing in all 13 games, he had 40 tackles, including 4.5 for losses of six yards, plus seven deflections, a forced fumble and an interception that he returned 19 yards. He made 2004 All-Pac-10 honorable mention and the ESPN.com All-Pac-10 first team.

2005: Justin had 34 tackles (20 solo/14 assisted), 2.5 tackles for a loss, one sack, three pass deflections and caused two fumbles.

Chris Doyle (OL):Doyle left the team after one year but continued at USC as a student.

Chris McFoy: 2002: McFoy redshirted as a freshman wide receiver in 2002, his first year at USC.

2003: McFoy was a reserve wide receiver as a redshirt freshman in 2003. He missed five midseason games (Arizona State, Stanford, Notre Dame, Washington and Washington State) after spraining his right ankle at California. Overall in 2003 while appearing in eight games (he even started at California), he had two receptions for 23 yards (12.5 average).

2004: The steady McFoy started USC's first nine games at wide receiver as a sophomore in 2004. He sprained his left knee in that ninth game (at Oregon State) and missed the following week's contest at Arizona. He was an often-used backup the last three games. Overall in 2004 while appearing in 12 games, he had 21 receptions for 272 yards (13.0 avg.).

2005: McFoy saw significant action as a junior wide receiver in 2005, even starting six games (Arkansas, Notre Dame, Stanford, California, Fresno State and UCLA). Overall in 2005 while appearing in all 13 games, he had 17 catches for 172 yards (10.1 avg.) and added two carries off reverses for seven yards (3.5 avg.) and 1 tackle.

2006: Chris had 10 receptions for 99 yards and a scored his first career touchdown before injuring his shoulder in the first quarter of the Washington State game. He could return for the game against Oregon.

Brandon Hance: Brandon enrolled at SC in 2002 after transferring from Purdue, where he started nine games in 2001. He was a backup quarterback for the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

LuJuan Ramsey: 2002: Ramsey was a backup defensive tackle (he also was available to play end) as a freshman in 2002, his first year at USC. Overall in 2002 while seeing action in seven games (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA), he made one tackle and had a fumble recovery.

2003: Ramsey was a backup defensive tackle behind Mike Patterson as a sophomore in 2003. He appeared in 10 games (all but Stanford, Washington State and Arizona), he had six tackles, including 2.5 for losses of 15 yards (with 1.5 sacks for 10 yards), plus a forced fumble (at Auburn, which USC recovered and led to a TD). He suffered a shoulder nerve injury prior to the Washington State game and missed USC's next 2 games.

2004: Ramsey was a backup defensive tackle and end as a junior in 2004. He played in nine games (all but Virginia Tech, BYU, Oregon State and UCLA), he made two tackles (one each against Washington and Arizona). He sat out the Virginia Tech opener while recovering from hernia surgery and missed the BYU contest with a groin strain. He missed some of 2004 spring practice while recovering from an abdominal strain.

2005: LuJuan had 40 tackles (19 solo/21 assists), 13 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks.

Mike Williams: 2002: Williams made a huge impact as a freshman wide receiver in 2002. In 13 games (he started against Washington and Oregon), he caught a team-high 81 passes for 1,265 yards (15.6 avg.) with 14 touchdowns, plus he was 1-of-1 passing for 19 yards, ran for nine yards on two carries (4.5 avg.) and had a tackle, forced fumble and fumble recovery. He was named to the 2002 The Sporting News Freshman All-American first team, Scripps/Football Writers Freshman All-American first team and was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. He was 16th nationally in receiving yards (97.3, fifth in Pac-10) and 20th in receptions (6.2, third in Pac-10). His 14 TD catches was second most in the nation. His 81 catches in 2002 are third on the USC season list. He had 5 100-yard receiving games in 2002 (including a stretch of 4 in a row-the most at USC since Keyshawn Johnson had 12 in a row in 1994 and 1995). He caught a touchdown pass in seven consecutive games. His 14 touchdown receptions tied the USC season record first set by Johnnie Morton in 1994. His three touchdown receptions against Washington in 2002 tied a USC game record and his 13 catches at Oregon was a USC freshman mark. He owns the NCAA, Pac-10 and USC freshman season records for receiving yards (1,265) and touchdown receptions (14, sharing the NCAA mark with Florida's Jabar Gaffney in 2000) and the Pac-10 and USC freshman mark for catches (81). He made the 2002 CNNSI.com All-American honorable mention, plus All-Pac-10 second team and The Sporting News Freshman All-Pac-10 first team, as well as The Sporting News All-Pac-10 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year.

2003: Just a sophomore in 2003, Williams was one of the nation's most dynamic and dangerous wide receivers. Overall in 2003 while starting all 13 games, he had 95 catches for 1,314 yards (13.8 avg.) and 16 touchdowns, plus he gained 26 yards on three rushes (8.7 avg.) off of backwards passes, completed both of his pass attempts for 38 yards (including a 15-yard TD against Michigan in the Rose Bowl), blocked a field goal and made a tackle. He was sixth nationally in receptions (7.3, second in the Pac-10) and 10th in receiving yards (101.1, third in Pac-10). His 16 touchdown receptions in 2003 were a USC season record, the most in the Pac-10 in 2003 and the most by a Trojan in a season since Marcus Allen scored 23 in 1981. His 95 catches in 2003 were second on the USC season ladder (third on the Pac-10 list) and his 1,314 receiving yards in 2003 were fourth best at SC. He had seven 100-yard receiving games in 2003. He was a finalist for the 2003 Biletnikoff Award; he was eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting and was the CBS.Sportsline.com National Player of the Year. He was the first consensus All-American first team Trojan wide receiver since Keyshawn Johnson in 1995 and the first USC sophomore honoree since Tony Boselli in 1992.

NOT RATED:

Ronald Nunn: 2002: Nunn, who transferred in the fall of 2002 from a junior college as a junior, started USC's first three games at cornerback and performed well. But, after breaking his right thumb prior to the Colorado game, he tore ligaments in his right knee at Kansas State and had surgery, which sidelined him the rest of the 2002 season. Because of the early-season injury, he was allowed to redshirt. Overall in 2002 while appearing in three games, he had three tackles.

2003: Nunn was an important backup cornerback as a junior in 2003. He was used often in extra defensive back formations and made a number of big plays. Overall in 2003 while appearing in all 13 games, he had 40 tackles, including four for losses of 27 yards (with 3 sacks for 26 yards), plus an interception which he returned 57 yards for a touchdown (at Washington), four deflections, one forced fumble (against UCLA, which USC recovered for a TD) and three fumble recoveries (with a 38-yard return for a TD against Hawaii). He broke his right eye socket at Washington, but he did not miss any games with the injury. He missed most of 2003 spring practice while recuperating from a 2002 knee injury.

2004: Nunn had 19 tackles (10 solo/9 assists), 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one interception. Nunn, shared cornerback duties with Wyatt, Eric Wright and Kevin Arbet.

Mike Ross: 2002: Ross was a backup safety and played on special teams as a freshman in 2002, his first year at USC. Overall in 2002 while seeing action in all 13 games, he made eight tackles (including four against Washington) and scored a touchdown when he recovered a blocked punt in the end zone at Colorado. He won USC's John McKay Award (underclassman with the most competitive spirit).

2003: Ross had 10 tackles (6 solo/4 assists). Ross left the team after the season.

Van Brown: 2002: Brown, who transferred to USC in the fall of 2002 from a junior college, served as a backup defensive end as a sophomore in 2002. He played in 8 games, had four tackles, including 1.5 sacks for seven yards.

2003: Brown served as a backup defensive end behind Kenechi Udeze as a junior in 2003. He played in nine games (all but Auburn, BYU, Hawaii and Notre Dame), had seven tackles, including one for a two-yard loss. He missed USC's first 3 games of 2003 because of a groin strain suffered in 2003 fall drills. After the season, he had arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle to remove debris.

Brandon Hancock: 2002: Hancock, who graduated a semester early from high school and enrolled at USC in the spring of 2002, was a backup fullback and appeared on special teams as a freshman in 2002. He even started twice (Oregon State and California). Brandon played in all 13 games, gained eight yards on three carries (2.7 avg.), caught two passes for 15 yards (7.5 avg.). On special teams he added four tackles and a fumble recovery (at Washington State, which led to a USC touchdown).

2003: Hancock started at fullback for most of his 2003 sophomore season. He missed USC's first three games of 2003 (Auburn, BYU and Hawaii) with a sprained right ankle suffered in fall drills. He then sprained his left knee at Arizona and missed the UCLA and Oregon State contests. He played in eight games (off the bench at California, then starting the next six regular season games and against Michigan in the Rose Bowl), he caught 13 passes for 160 yards (12.3 avg.) with two touchdowns, had one carry for minus two yards. He missed 2003 spring practice after having spring surgery to repair a dislocating bone in his right wrist.

2004: Hancock redshirted the 2004 season (he was slated to start at fullback) after having surgery in the spring of 2004 for a torn ligament in his right knee and a ruptured chest muscle (the injuries also caused him to miss 2004 spring football practice).

2005: Hancock returned after a year's layoff because of injury and served as the backup fullback as a junior in 2005. He played in all 13 games, ran for 13 yards on four carries (3.2 avg.) with a touchdown and caught nine passes for 102 yards (11.3 avg.).

2006 Tore his ACL in fall practice and is out for the season.

Oscar Lua: 2002: Lua served as an often-used backup middle linebacker and played on special teams as a freshman his first year at USC. He played in 11 games (all but Arizona State), made 13 tackles, including a 14-yard sack, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.

2003: Lua hoped to compete for the starting middle linebacker job as a sophomore in 2003. But he missed 2003 spring practice while recuperating from a knee injury suffered late in 2002. He played a bit against BYU but reinjured the knee, forcing him out for the rest of the 2003 season (he had mid-season surgery). He was able to redshirt.

2004: Lua was a backup middle linebacker and key special team's player as a sophomore in 2004. He played in all 13 games, had 13 tackles, including one for a loss. He missed some of 2004 spring practice while recuperating from a knee injury.

2005: Lua emerged from 2005 fall camp as the starting middle linebacker and did a commendable job there as a junior in 2005. He played in 12 games and started 11 times (he didn't start against Stanford after getting hurt on the opening kickoff), he had a team-high 66 tackles, including 0.5 sack for minus one yard, plus one fumble recovery, two forced fumbles, one interception which he returned 13 yards and two deflections. He made 2005 All-Pac-10 honorable mention.


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