When it comes to football pedigree and tradition, USC is at the forefront of almost all NCAA programs. From six Heisman Trophy winners to 11 national championships, to producing 79 first-round NFL draft selections, the Trojans have deeply impacted both the collegiate and professional ranks of football.
This Sunday, the Trojan football legacy continues as former All-American USC center Ryan Kalil's Carolina Panthers will take on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
Kalil's Panthers finished the regular season with the best record in the NFL (15-1); two weeks ago they defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 49-15, and clinched a berth to the Super Bowl.
Since being drafted in the second round (59th overall) of the 2007 NFL draft by the Panthers, Kalil has established himself as one of the best centers in the league. Over the course of his nine-year NFL career, Kalil has been selected to the Pro Bowl five times; he has also been selected as a First-team NFL All-Pro twice.
With Kalil starting at center this season, the Panthers allowed quarterback Cam Newton to be hit only 61 times, the third fewest quarterback hits allowed by any team in the NFL.
During his time as a Trojan, Kalil was a member of two national championship winning teams, and in his senior year he was the starting center for the USC team that won the 2006 Rose Bowl. In 2005, Kalil was named a Sports Illustrated All-American, and at the conclusion of his Trojan career, he was selected as a NCAA First-Team All-American.
Kalil, a native of Corona, California, was also a recipient of the 2006 Morris trophy, an honor given by the PAC-12 Conference to the best offensive and defensive lineman on the West Coast.
This Sunday, Kalil will have the task of anchoring a Carolina offensive line against a dominant Denver defensive front that managed to hit Patriots quarterback Tom Brady a total of 23 times—including four sacks,—in the AFC Championship Game two weeks ago.
Should Carolina go on to win the first Super Bowl in their franchise's 21-year history, Kalil will have to play a crucial role in directing the offensive line's run-blocking schemes and keeping Newton's jersey clean against the best defense in football.
Former USC defensive lineman Wes Horton is also a member of the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers roster; however, he occupies a role on the practice, not active squad.