Straight Outta SoCal: What Playing Against USC Means to Huskies From The Golden State

Terry Hollimon

I’ve always known that the University of Washington and USC rivalry was special. For multiple reasons. We are talking about two perennial Pac 12 juggernauts. One representing the North. The other, the South. More often than not these two programs find themselves battling for supremacy of not only the west coast, but the nation.

 The rivalry dates back to 1923 when the Trojans first faced off against the Huskies in Seattle. Although I have watched some epic battles between the two schools over the years, it wasn’t until I became a UW football player that I was able to fully understand the depths of this 85 year old rivalry.

Over the years, UW has done an excellent job of plucking players right from USC’s back yard. Quite literally at times. Some recruits are anxious to get out of Southern California. Other guys feel better suited for the program here in Seattle. There are also a lot of guys who feel slighted by the Trojans. With Southern California being a hotbed of football talent, USC often has their pick of elite athletes and sometimes they miss out on some of the most talented football players in their own state, and Washington is able to swoop in and steal some gems. As a player, I got to see first hand what playing, and BEATING USC meant to the kids from SoCal. It rubbed off on the rest of us and we were always ready to go to battle with the Trojans. 

Rather than try to explain to you exactly how they felt, I reached out to some Husky Legends  who hail from The Golden State so they can tell you in their OWN words, what playing against USC meant to them.

Tony Parrish

Tony Parrish: Safety 93-97

“When Don James built his program USC was his measuring stick. For me, as a member of Don James’ last recruiting class playing USC meant representing his work and his legacy. As a Dawg from Southern California it meant showing my family and loved ones that I’m doing well and that I made the right decision in choosing Washington. And it meant showing USC what has become of the local kid that they missed out on.“

Rashaan Shehee

Rashaan Shehee: Running Back 93-97

“Playing against SC was a really big deal for me. My mom literally worked across the street at the elementary school so I was on their campus all the time, and I knew all the players. I actually wanted to go there but they didn’t think I was good enough to play running back for them. They only recruited me as a DB. I made it a point to outperform their running backs each season. I got the last laugh ... #Dawg4Life“

Melvyn Miller

Mel Miller: Cornerback 95-99

“I’m a Cali boy but I bleed purple and gold. Growing up in Los Angeles, USC was the college every young high school football player dreamed of playing for. I was recruited by all the top colleges coming out of high school but for what ever reason USC didn’t recruit me. But that was a blessing because I became a Washington Husky. It was no mystery that every time we played USC, I played with a chip on my shoulder, and I’m proud to say I have never lost to USC. Lots of great Cali players by-passed USC to become UW Dawgs because UW also has great tradition and history. Down here in LA that “W” holds a lot of weight. Anytime I wear my Purple W hat down here in Cali, it never fails - some one will yell out to me "“Go Dawgs" 

Leon Neal

Leon Neal: Running Back 91-95

“Playing against USC was a great experience because you were playing against your home town college. The college where many of my close buddies attended. It was a game that you knew you had to step your game up because all of your friends from back home would be watching. Definitetly one of those games that you circled and got a little juiced to play in”. 

Eric Battle

Eric Battle: Tackle 91-95

“For me it was like one of my high school games all over again,.. but on a larger scale, and normally national TV. Playing against so many guys I had either played with or against in high school. That in-itself. takes on a whole new meaning and feeling. During the time I left California, there was a feeling amongst some guys that SC was no longer interested in the instate guys, and they were more interested in other parts of the country,... like TX, FL, etc. For any competitor that is going to add an unbelievable amount of fuel to a fire already burning. So when it came to getting up for “the guys down south” it wasn’t very hard!Growing up 10 minutes for the SC campus and going to Banning High, it was almost assumed you were going to play for SC; like all the others,.. Mark Tucker, Leroy Holy, Marvin Pollard,.. etc. There were a few that bucked the trend, like Tyrone Rodgers, and Terrence Powe, which ultimately is one of the reasons I came to Washington. Either it was always a little bitter sweet... but no less a burning desire to really understand the importance of that game and furthermore to put on one helluva show. Don’t believe me ask Beno Bryant!

Danianke Smith

Danianke Smith: Defensive Line 88-92

Knocc Smith. Say Who '92: Being a Dawg... yet born & raised in SC land. It was always a special game for me personally. I grew up attending a lot of SC games. 2 fingers in the air. When I became a Husky all that stopped!! Whether playing against SC at Husky Stadium or at the LA Coliseum, I upgraded my UW pride. I played against a lot of childhood friends that were Trojans. And we WON those games. It was a lot of fun coming home (To L.A.) where more of my LBC/LA friends could come to the game. Way fun rivalry for me being a So.Cal Dawg!

Comments (3)


The Cali crew brought great athleticism and flavor to the UW campus. I remember summer of 92 and they brought the word "keyed" on campus. Spent a lot of time playing Madden in the dorms with E Battle (and Doug). Lots of time with Leon and guys in Hub. Just great times. And some of them still call Seattle home which is cool.

No. 1-2

Great player's perspectives on making the trip north. Go Dawgs.