Cameron Smith #35 USC Trojans

Cameron Smith was an early enrollee at USC and it was obvious immediately that this kid could play. Theoretically, Cameron Smith was a high school senior in the Spring of 2015, but he was clearly a grown man and high school proms are for boys.

Smith started in the Spring Game, and then he started in the USC opener in the 2015 season against Arkansas State.

Cameron Smith was an 18 year old freshman and leading the tradition rich Trojan football team in tackles from his Middle Linebacker position.

Nobody had started as a true freshman at Middle Linebacker for the Trojans since Riki Gray back in 1979.

Smith wears number 35 and Riki Gray wore number 35.

New Zealand native Gray was the Trojans top tackler and led USC to 2 Rose Bowls and a national championship. He became the first New Zealand native to play in the NFL when the San Francisco

49ers took him with a 5th round pick. Gray changed his name to Ellison and he played in the NFL for 9 seasons. He helped the 49ers win 3 Super Bowls.

Riki Gray Ellison played at USC from 1979 through 1982 and you could count on number 35 to make tackles from sideline to sideline.

The number 35 used to be kind of a big deal at USC with Riki Gray, then Rex Moore, Scott Ross and Jeff Kopp. But, since Kopp finished up in 1994, it seems to have gone away.

I got a feeling of deja vu last year when number 35 was playing Middle Linebacker for the Trojans. Maybe the Trojans are wanting to bring back the 35 jersey for tradition sake.

The 2015 season was largely a disappointment with the firing of Steve Sarkisian and interim coach Clay Helton taking over. Posting an 8-6 record is not going to get it done at USC, just as it wouldn’t at Alabama, Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma and any other schools that are used to winning big.

What makes an 8-6 record really strange is that USC has a lot of talent. This season, they return every starter in the Offensive Line and most of those guys have started since their true freshman seasons.

They have talent at Wide Receiver, Tight End, Running Back, and most importantly, at Quarterback.

The defense has talent, but has to replace everyone in the Defensive Line.

Then, there is Cameron Smith.

The 6-2, 245 Smith led the team in tackles through 10 games, but he was lost for the season after the

Colorado game.

In 10 games, he had 78 total Tackles.

His best game came against Utah when he picked off 3 almost identical passes and he scored on 1 of them. He returned the other 2 to inside the Utah 5 yard line setting up easy scores for the Trojans. That 42-24 win eliminated Utah from any playoff talks.

The Pac 12 South was really weak in 2015 after such high expectations and the Trojans beat all of their competition sealing a South championship. They lost to Stanford in their opening game and again in the Pac 12 Championship game.

USC was 7-3 with Smith in the lineup and they were 1-3 with him on the sideline.

Clay Helton was interim coach all season, but they officially named him head coach after the season. He shook up the previous staff and brought in Defensive Coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

Pendergast will make a huge difference in the Trojan defense and he will do it right away.

This team and it’s defense will be on the young side, but Cameron Smith is a grown man at Linebacker and he’s eager to get back on the playing field.

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