USC football: 5 most underrated players in USC Trojans history

LenDale White of the USC Trojans. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LenDale White of the USC Trojans. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /
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Underrated USC football players
Carson Palmer of the USC Trojans. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images) /

1. Underrated USC football players: Carson Palmer

You might be wondering how a quarterback who won a Heisman Trophy and was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft could be considered underrated. In order to understand that, one has to look at Carson Palmer’s entire story.

The leap Joe Burrow had was nothing short of miraculous for the LSU Tigers. He went from a late-round draft pick to the No. 1 pick in the draft and a Heisman Trophy winner. Before Burrow came from nowhere to become the best player in college football Palmer did it in  2002.

Though his numbers were not as mesmerizing as Burrow’s, his leap from year four to year five–also exactly like Burrow — was staggering. Palmer threw 20 more touchdowns as a redshirt senior, his completion percentage increased nearly five percentage points, he threw for over 1,200 more yards with two fewer interceptions.

Just as Joe Brady transformed Burrow’s game, Norm Chow transformed Palmer’s game. Brady took advantage of Burrow’s ability to make quick decisions and get the ball out of his hands quickly.

Chow took advantage of Palmer’s big arm. He put pressure on defenses by putting more receivers in routes and there was always a deep route on every pass play to keep safeties honest.

Another large part of his story that goes untold is Palmer was not a Pete Carroll recruit. The position that changes the fortunes of a football program is the quarterback. While Leinert gets most of the publicity and Matt Barkley came to the program with all the hype, it was Palmer who turned the tide for the Trojans.

The Fresno native was originally recruited by John Robinson and Paul Hackett. He was a holdover from the Hacket regime. Most times new coaches want to bring in their guy. The Trojans stuck with Palmer and he got them back on the national stage.

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