NCAA Football

USC star tailback, 1979 Heisman Trophy winner Charles White has died at age 64

USC star tailback, 1979 Heisman Trophy winner Charles White has died at age 64

LOS ANGELES – Charles White is legendary USC tailback, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1979, died Wednesday. He was 64.

USC announced the passing of White, who remains the career rushing leader with 6,245 yards. The nine-year NFL veteran died of cancer in Newport Beach, Calif., the school said.

“He was the toughest player I ever coached,” said John Robinson, White’s former head coach at USC and with the Los Angeles Rams. “He was really extraordinary in that regard. He was a great player and just loved playing the game. That’s what I remember the most. He was a really tough guy and an extremely gifted athlete. But the toughness . . . wow!”

A two-time All-American and Los Angeles native, White won a national title in 1978 before winning the Heisman the following season when he captained the Trojans and led the nation in receiving yards. White has been the Trojans’ leader in each of the past three seasons. He also won the Walter Camp, Maxwell and Pop Warner awards following his senior season.

He was named Rose Bowl MVP in both games following the 1978 and 1979 seasons. White was the third of USC’s record eight Heisman winners and is still revered at the school long known as Tailback U.

“Charles White was one of the greatest Trojans of all time,” USC athletic director Mike Bohn said. “A Rose Bowl legend, two-time All-American and NCAA record holder, he made USC proud while wearing the cardinal and gold.”

White was selected by Cleveland with the 27th overall pick in the 1980 draft and spent five years with the Browns, missing the entire 1983 season due to injury. He joined the Rams in 1985 and played four more seasons under Robinson, finishing his NFL career with 3,075 yards rushing.

After retiring from the NFL, he coached USC’s running backs from 1993 to 1997 while working again for Robinson, who was back with the Trojans. He also held an administrative job in the Trojans’ athletic department.

White is survived by his ex-wife Judian White-Bash, their five children and a granddaughter. Details of the memorial service are pending.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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