With the talk earlier this week of Marqise Lee possibly seeing double-duty at corner, WeAreSC staffers list five current and past players who could have succeeded in two-way action.
1. TB Curtis McNeal at CB: McNeal played corner in high school and had offers from several schools to play defense. He was a fiesty cover corner and sure tackler.
2. WR Robert Woods at S: There’s no secret on this one. Woods was one of the best safeties around in high school, but it just so happened that he was also the best receiver, so he stayed on offense.
3. OL Abe Markowitz at NT: The Trojans have had good success at nose tackle with shorter and stockier players such as Mike Patterson, Sedrick Ellis and Jurrell Casey. Markowitz is 6-foot-1, 305 pounds with good power and enough agility to be an accomplished Polynesian dancer.
4. TE Junior Pomee at DE: At 6-3, 250, Pomee possesses ideal size for a defensive end. He’s also a swift and attacking player with an aggressive style that would translate well to defense.
5. LB Jabari Ruffin at TE: Ruffin is an athletic player with size, and those are hard to find. He will likely have a good career on defense, but he has all the skills to succeed on offense as well.
1. TE Alex Holmes at NT: Holmes was a tremendous athlete for his size at 270 pounds with impressive strength. He loved playing offense, but he would have also been a good interior defensive lineman.
2. S Darnell Bing at TB: At 6-2, 220, he would have made a terrific big back with his very smooth running style. He was a RB growing up and was switched to defense in 10th grade because of a glut of running backs, including future Trojan Hershel Dennis.
3. S Troy Polamalu at TB: His uncle, Kennedy Polamalu, now the Trojans RB coach, will tell you that Troy could have been a terrific back. He ran with the same violent style that has made him one of the top safeties in the NFL.
4. QB Jason Thomas at TE: Jason didn’t finish his career at USC -- he transferred because he wanted to play QB and USC had a guy named Carson Palmer. Thomas was a rare athlete who could have starred at a number of spots, with tight end being at the top of the list.
5. TB Allen Bradford at LB: Bradford was a good enough bruising football player that he was able to have some big moments as a running back, but he was a pure linebacker and it would have been good to see him there for the Trojans.
Bonus -- TB Marcus Allen as a wishbone QB: The wishbone offense was in vogue at the time and the Trojans probably could have held their own in that system with Allen at quarterback and Charles White and Lynn Cain behind him.
1. WR Robert Woods at DB: An All-America receiver who could also feel right at home as a defensive back, something he excelled in at Gardena (Calif.) Serra High.
2. LB Hayes Pullard at FB: You want a powerful, physical running back? Well, Pullard was all that at Crenshaw High, and he would, at the very worst, be one tough cookie as a fullback.
3. WR Nelson Agholor at DB: Sure he has tremendous potential as a wide receiver, but could also be an all-star corner or free safety. His defensive stats in high school were impressive.
4.TE Xavier Grimble at DE: You think he is a good tight end? Imagine this guy with his athletic ability playing defensive end and coming off the edge.
5. TB Tre Madden at LB: I know, he already played linebacker, but the question asks about a player that could shine, and Madden certainly has the ability to “shine” at linebacker if running back doesn’t work out.
1. SS Darnell Bing at TB: An All-American on defense, I can only daydream on Bing also playing tailback, a position I strongly believe would have been his calling for starring NFL career.
2. SS Ronnie Lott at TB: OK, he is one of the greatest secondary players on every level he played, but he would have also made an All-American team or two playing tailback.
3. TB Marcus Allen at FS: A no-brainer as a free safety, as well as an all-time tailback. He came into Troy as a safety, so what does that tell you about athletic ability?
4. LB Chris Claiborne at TB: You want to talk about another Earl Campbell? You should have seen Claiborne run the ball at Riverside (Calif.) North High. He could have been a beast in college.
5. OT Ron Yary at DT: A College Football Hall of Fame player as an offensive tackle and the Trojans only Outland Trophy winner, he could have been an accomplished defensive tackle, a position he did play at Troy in the early going.
1. WR Robert Woods to S: A prolific safety in high school who had eight interceptions as a senior, Woods is just a natural on the football field and he has the speed to make a huge impact in the secondary at USC.
2. RB D.J. Morgan to DB: Another two-way prep performer who was also a standout hurdler, Morgan’s athleticism could translate over well to cornerback or safety.
3. WR Nelson Agholor to DB: A burner with raw physical talents similar to Marqise Lee, Agholor was a jack-of-all-trades at Tampa’s Berkeley Prep, and with 15 career interceptions, he would appear to have unique instincts as a ball hawk that could be utilized in the defensive backfield at USC.
4. CB Nickell Robey to WR: As evidenced by his skills as a punt returner this season, Robey has a knack for making guys miss when he has the ball in his hands, and he would definitely be able to rack up those yards after the catch as a receiver.
5. WR George Farmer to S: Although he’s been nicked-up a bit in his Trojans’ career so far, Farmer was an absolute stud in high school at Serra. With a unique combination of size and elite top-end speed, he’d potentially make a great safety.
1. LB Matt Grootegoed to RB: In the 1998 CIF-SS Division I Championship game Grootegoed put on one of the all-time great performances, beating Long Beach Poly almost single-handedly at running back and safety for Santa Ana Mater Dei. It would have been something special to see him carry the ball for USC.
2. S Troy Polamalu to RB: Can you imagine Polamalu at running back for the Trojans? With his speed, instincts and aggressive brand of play, it’s hard to believe that he wouldn’t have had tremendous success.
3. WR Steve Smith to CB: A phenomenal two-way star at Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft who also excelled on the basketball court as well as on the track, Smith has those long arms and quick hips that could have been especially useful at cornerback.
4. WR Curtis Conway to CB: With the lights-out speed that helped make him a success in the NFL, not to mention 6-1 size, Conway might have been one of the best cornerbacks in the nation while at USC.
5. LB Chris Claiborne to RB: Talk about your power backs. At 6-foot-3 and close to 250 pounds, Claiborne would have been a formidable foe for any defender to take on in the open field. And having rushed for over 2,000 yards with 38 touchdowns as a senior at Riverside North, he certainly had the experience.