DE/OLB Uchenna Nwosu, rightfully added to the Trojan All-American Wall (leading to the John McKay Center) this past week, was USC’s best defensive player last season. “Honored to have my name immortalized with the rest of the USC legends for life,” Nwosu Twittered.
A 2017 team captain, Nwosu is officially the 167th in Trojan history to take his spot and along with Sam Darnold (who did unfortunately not make the Wall), and was named the Trojans’ co-MVP.
It was a joy to watch Nwosu bat down passes with predictable regularity and he did so on 13 occasions for the Trojans last season, the most in 20 years since back when Chris Claiborne dominated for USC.
Nwosu’s quick, opportunistic and athletic style of play allows him to set the edge, rush the passer and still drop back into coverage. He reminds me a little of Chip Banks (’78-81), though not as tall as the 6-5 Banks, who played from ’82-’93 for Cleveland, San Diego, and Indianapolis. He was the Browns’ No. 1 pick in the ’82 draft and No. 3 overall.
Credit this past year’s season sweep victory over Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship game in large part to Nwosu for that stupendous, momentum-changing 4th and 1 goal-line stop of RB Cameron Scarlett in the Cardinal “jumbo package”.
Stanford had won league titles in 2012, 2013 and 2015, so it was satisfying payback to see USC stop their domination. USC is fittingly the first team from the South Division to win the Pac-12 championship. It was USC’s first since the Pete Carroll days in 2008.
The 6-2, 250 pound Nwoso seems likely to be chosen on the second day of the draft and it would be disappointing if he dropped into the third round. He seems to me like the type of Trojan athlete who some teams will wish they had taken late in the first round.
Mel Kiper also likes Nwosu as one of his favorite “edge players.” Kiper, who like most, projects Nwosu as a second or third rounder, recently had this to say:
“Nwosu might be the best pure pass-rusher available when Round 2 begins on Friday night. He is just a thorn in the side of offensive tackles and quarterbacks. Nwosu had two sacks that night (against Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl) and eight total in his final six games. He was unblockable down the stretch of the season.”