The junior wide receiver leaves his mark in the record books
LOS ANGELES — Pick an era of USC football and there's at least one iconic wide receiver to have donned Cardinal and Gold — and not one from Lynn Swann, to Keyshawn Johnson or Steve Smith, to Mike Williams or Marqise Lee, can stake claim to the night Amon-Ra St. Brown had against Washington State.
His fourth touchdown reception of the 38-13 win came with 44 seconds remaining in the FIRST quarter, a grab that tied St. Brown with Robert Woods for most by a Trojans receiving in a game and matching the Pac-12's conference-wide record. No one in NCAA history, save Duke's Corey Thomas in 1997, ever caught four touchdowns in a single quarter before St. Brown.
Forget football, you might have to go to the 1992 NBA Finals for St. Brown's closest equivalent.
Now, a four-touchdown outing wasn't entirely new for St. Brown: In his postgame press conference Sunday, he cited the opening game of his junior season at Mater Dei High School, a 63-14 rout of Bishop Amat. But to do so in 15 minutes of a college game? All you can do is shrug.
Ironically, and despite reaching the 100-yard mark in USC's first two games, St. Brown's four scores were his first of the season. As Trojans head coach Clay Helton put it, "touchdowns come in bunches."
"There's a reason that C [denoting captainship] is on Amon-Ra St. Brown's chest," Helton said. "He's an unselfish player. You go through three games and you're not in the end zone... He's played the same unselfish, physical, tough game each week."
"This was the first time it felt like we were getting man[-to-man] looks," St. Brown said of Washington State's coverage. "They came out early playing man. As receivers, we love [matching up] one-on-one."
In an offense like that which USC coordinator Graham Harrell oversees, opportunities for receptions are plentiful — so much so that with 77 for more than 1,000 yards a season ago, St. Brown's production was downright quiet. Michael Pittman Jr. grew into a coveted NFL draft prospect on the strength of his 11-touchdown, 1,275-yard campaign.
Even with Pittman gone for the pros, the return of Tyler Vaughns, the addition of Bru McCoy, and the maturation of Drake London — whose 92 receiving yards set the pace against Washington State — gives USC depth that means less individual spotlight, but a more dangerous team.
"It wasn't like [St. Brown] was getting the ball every play," quarterback Kedon Slovis said. "We were getting the ball to everyone."
To that end, St. Brown shined as a star among stars. And with history made, he's now a legend among legends.
— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.