Charles White, USC RB and 1979 Heisman Trophy winner, dies at 64

USC tailback Charles White runs past the Michigan defense during the Rose Bowl game on Jan. 2, 1979 in Pasadena. White shared game MVP honors with Michigan’s Rick Leach. (AP Photo)

USC running back Charles White breaks loose for a short gain as Texas Tech’s Larry Flowers dives but can’t make the tackle during their Sept. 8, 1979 game in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Donna Carson)

USC running back Charles White tries to plunge over a collection of bodies to get into the end zone during a game against Texas Tech on Sept. 9, 1978 at the Coliseum. (AP Photo)

USC running back Charles White holds the football after scoring a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to tie Ohio State in the Rose Bowl game on Jan. 2, 1980 in Pasadena. Moments later, USC kicker Eric Hipp kicked the PAT for a 17-16 win. (AP Photo)

USC coach John Robinson congratulates running back Charles White, right, after they crushed UCLA to clinch their berth in the Rose Bowl on Nov. 24, 1979 at the Coliseum. White ran for 194 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Trojans to a 49-14 victory. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)

USC tailback Charles White gains a first down against Stanford during an Oct. 13, 1979 game at the Coliseum. (AP Photo/Brich)

USC running back Charles White (12) is grabbed by Texas Tech’s Andrew Thomas (46), Jeff Copeland (45) and Don Kelly (43, on the ground) during a Sept. 9, 1978 game at the Coliseum. (AP Photo/David Yarnold)

USC running back Charles White puts his arms around the Heisman Trophy won by O.J. Simpson in 1968 after he was announced as the winner of the 1979 Heisman on Dec. 3, 1979. (AP Photo/Wally Fong)



Former USC tailback and 1979 Heisman Trophy winner Charles White died in Newport Beach on Wednesday from cancer, the school announced in a press release. The Trojans great, who was a member of USC’s 1978 national championship team, was 64.

White was one of the most decorated athletes in college football history, setting 22 NCAA, Pac-10, USC and Rose Bowl records during his four-year career from 1976 to 1979. He remains USC’s all-time leading rusher with 6,245 yards, a mark that was the second-most in NCAA history at the time of his graduation.

A graduate of San Fernando High, White was a two-time unanimous All-American and three-time All-Pac-12 first-team selection. He led USC in rushing for three straight seasons, culminating with a 2,050-yard season in 1979 as he was named the third of USC’s eight Heisman Trophy winners.

He also won the Maxwell, Chic Harley, Walter Camp and Pop Warner Awards in 1979 after scoring 19 touchdowns and leading the Trojans to a second straight Rose Bowl win. He was the Rose Bowl Player of the Game in 1979 and 1980.

White finished his career with 53 total touchdowns and a career average of 5.4 yards per carry. He was inducted into the USC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.

“He was the toughest player I’ve ever coached,” former USC head coach John Robinson said in a statement. “He was really unusual in that regard. He was a great player and just loved playing the game. Those are the things I remember the most. He was a really tough guy, and he was an extremely gifted athlete. But the toughness … wow!”

White went on to be a first-round pick in the 1980 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, where he spent the first five seasons of his career. He then played for four years with the Los Angeles Rams, where he was again coached by Robinson.

The tailback had a career year in 1987, leading the NFL in rushing while being named a first-team All-Pro and the league’s Comeback Player of the Year.

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After his playing career, White accepted a position at USC as special assistant to the athletic director in 1990. He served as USC’s running backs coach from 1993-97 before again moving into an administrative role at the university.

“Charles White was one of the all-time great Trojans,” USC athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement. “He will always be remembered by the Trojan Family for the history he made on the football field and the legacy he left at Troy.”

White is survived by his ex-wife Judianne White-Basch, their children Nicole White, Julian White, Tara White, Ashton White, Sophia White, and granddaughter Giovanna Hemmen. Memorial service details are pending.

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