In the days leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, running back Ronald Jones II and linebacker Uchenna Nwosu joined the ranks of the greatest names in Trojan athletics on the USC All-American Walk.
The All-American Walk is reserved for a special group of USC football players — a collection of 168 athletes who earned All-American distinctions while playing in the cardinal and gold. Last year’s All-American class included cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, right tackle Zach Banner and left tackle Chad Wheeler.
Nwosu was an aggressive standout for the Trojans’ smothering defense throughout the 2017 season, earning himself the team’s co-MVP award and a slot on the All-Pac-12 first team by the end of his senior year. As a captain, he served as one of the primary leaders for the defense alongside junior linebacker Cameron Smith.
He finished his final season as a Trojan with 75 tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Along with his ability to pursue running backs and quarterbacks along the line of scrimmage and in the backfield, Nwosu excelled throughout the season in his ability to anticipate passes. He finished with a team-high of 13 deflections, the most tallied by a single USC athlete since linebacker Chris Claiborne in 1998.
While Nwosu provided a spark on defense, Jones served as the motor of the offense all season. As a junior, Jones dazzled opposing teams with his speed and ability to tip-toe sidelines. But after packing on 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason, Jones — who was nicknamed the “Texas Tesla” — introduced a new aspect to his game. The extra muscle allowed him to pummel his way through defensive lines, grinding consistently for extra yards after contact that made the difference between first downs and turnovers.
At the end of his senior season, Jones led the Trojan offense with 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns. With a grand total of 3,619 yards over his years in a Trojan uniform, he finished No. 5 overall on the program’s career rushing list. Jones’ performance earned him a spot alongside Nwosu on the All-Pac-12 first team. He also finished with finalist distinctions for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, which recognizes the nation’s top offensive players, and the Doak Walker Award, which recognizes the best running backs in Division I football.
The pair’s latest distinction was announced by the USC Athletics department on Monday, when the program posted a picture of two newly minted plaques emblazoned with a portrait of each athlete alongside their names, positions and hometown. With the NFL Combine and their pro days behind them, Nwosu and Jones now await the commencement of the NFL Draft, which will begin on April 26.