USC Prepares For UCLA, Recruits Trojan Track Stars To Football Practice

UCLA Bruins right halfback JACKIE ROBINSON (# 28), the speedy transfer from Pasadena Junior College who was named Third Team All-Pacific Coast by the Associated Press as well as Honorable Mention All-America by both the Associated Press and NEA Sports Syndicate towards the end of his first season with the Westwood’s gridiron warriors, tries to turn the corner against the University of Washington defense during the Pacific Coast Conference game at Husky Stadium in Seattle on October 7, 1939.


Los Angeles, December 5th (United Press) — Two of U.S.C.’s fastest dash stars, MICKEY ANDERSON and PAYTON JORDAN, reported for football practice today without a thought of getting into the season’s last game against U.C.L.A. Saturday.

Coach HOWARD JONES ordered the sprinters into moleskins in an effort to accustom his battered Trojans to the blinding speed of the Bruins’ JACKIE ROBINSON.


In what had to be seen as a shrewd move by the experienced USC bench boss Jones, the two Trojan track stars turned out at the Bovard Field practice facility for an entire week in early December of 1939 to assist the scout team of the nation’s # 3 ranked college football team adequately simulate the sort of speed that could be expected from the backfield of the cross-town rival UCLA Bruins.

The standout USC track & field team were in the midst of an amazing nine-year run that would see the Trojans celebrate the NCAA national championship title every single season from 1935 thru 1943 while Anderson and Jordan had already comprised one-half of the Trojans relay team that had set a new world record for the 440-yard event at the annual West Coast Relays hosted by Fresno in the spring of 1938.

Jordan, who later went on to become the head coach of the United States track & field team at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City, ran the 100-yard dash in the 9.7 range and was well qualified to mimic the UCLA right halfback Robinson carrying the ball on a reverse play around the left end or, perhaps, running a pass pattern downfield.

Anderson, meanwhile, needed no introduction to the rest of the USC football squad after having already earned two varsity letters playing football for the Trojans in 1937 and 1938. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder started one game at right halfback and scored two touchdowns on pass receptions as a sophomore for USC and then started one game at quarterback while adding two touchdowns rushing as a junior for the Trojans. Ironically enough, Anderson actually came out of the very same John Muir Technical High School in Pasadena that also produced the very same Jackie Robinson whom the versatile USC multi-sport athlete was now helping to imitate on the practice field.

Exactly like current USC second-string quarterback AMBROSE SCHINDLER, the Second Team All-Pacific Coast choice of both the Associated Press as well as the United Press in 1939, had done the year before, Anderson was sitting out the entire 1939 NCAA football season so that an injury might heal properly.

USC Trojans quarterback MICKEY ANDERSON (# 25) effectively delivers a stiff arm to a would-be tackler from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the high-profile inter-regional contest played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in front of a then-West Coast record 101,000 spectators on December 3, 1938. First Team All-Pacific Coast pick Grenville Lansdell went out in the first quarter with a twisted ankle but was capably replaced by Anderson and senior Oliver Day, who tossed a second quarter touchdown pass to sure-handed sophomore left end Al Krueger. Anderson scored on a short run in the last quarter to complete USC’s stunning 13-0 victory over a Notre Dame side that had come into the game with an unblemished record (8-0-0) and the coveted # 1 ranking in the latest weekly poll from the Associated Press.


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