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USC lays claim to another title: Quarterback-U

March 2, 2009 |  2:15 pm

USC quarterbacks in the NFL: Carson Palmer, John David Booty, Mark Sanchez, Matt Cassel, and Matt Leinart.

When USC thumped Penn State in the Rose Bowl this year, it was a meeting of historic Tailback-U (Trojans) and Linebacker-U (Lions).

USC seems to have stolen the Linebacker-U title in this year's NFL draft, with as many as three players projected to go in the first round: Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews.

Impressive, but it might not be anything compared with what the Trojans' quarterbacks could pull off in the league this coming season. Can you name another school with this many potential starters?

-- Carson Palmer (Cincinnati): The Bengals' Pro-Bowl quarterback missed most of 2008 with an elbow injury, but should be a lock to start in a few months.

-- Matt Cassel (Kansas City): After starting in place of injured Tom Brady last year in New England, the Pats slapped a franchise tag on the perennial backup -- then dealt him to the Chiefs for practically nothing. Cassel is expected start over Tyler Thigpen.

-- Matt Leinart (Arizona): If Kurt Warner goes to San Francisco, Leinart will start. If Warner gets hurt, Leinart will start. If Warner signs a long contract, Leinart will probably get traded and has a good chance at starting somewhere. Rarely has one man's athletic fate been so closely tied to another, at least since Percy Miller and DeMar DeRozan.

-- Mark Sanchez (TBD):  After combine, he seems to have secured a first-round pick. How high will he go? And will he land at a team willing to start him behind center after just a year of doing so in college? Or could he hold the clipboard while learning from ... Kurt Warner in San Francisco?

-- John David Booty (Minnesota) -- OK, he's not going to start, but he does get an honorable mention. Firmly entrenched on the Vikings bench, he's still cashing an NFL paycheck and was possibly the most hyped of all USC quarterbacks coming out of high school since Todd Marinovich.

-- Adam Rose

Photos from left: Carson Palmer. Credit: Andy Lyons / Getty Images; John David Booty. Credit: Tim Heitman / US Presswire; Mark Sanchez. Credit: Michael Conroy /Associated Press; Matt Cassel. Credit: Rick Stewart / Getty Images; Matt Leinart. Credit: Roy Dabner / EPA

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