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USC star tailback, 1979 Heisman Trophy-winning Charles White at 64

USC star tailback, 1979 Heisman Trophy-winning Charles White at 64

LOS ANGELES — Charles White, the legendary USC who won the Heisman Trophy in 1979, died Wednesday. He was 64 years old.

The University of Southern California announced the death of White, who remains the Trojans’ career rushing leader with 6,245 yards. The nine-year NFL veteran died of cancer in Newport Beach, California, the school said.

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

A two-time North American and Los Angeles native, White won a national title in 1978 before clinching the Heisman title the following season, when he led the Trojans and led the nation in rushing yards. White led the Trojans in rushing each of his last three seasons. He also won Walter Camp, Maxwell, and Pop Warner awards after his first season.

He was named Rose Bowl MVP in both games after the 1978 and 1979 seasons. White was the third of eight Heisman winners at USC, and is still regarded with reverence at the school long known as the Tailback U.

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“Charles White was one of the greatest Trojans ever,” said USC athletic director Mike Boone. “A Rose Bowl legend, two-time consensus All-American and NCAA record setter, made USC proud by wearing his Cardinal and gold.”

White was the 27th overall pick in the 1980 draft for Cleveland, spent five years with the Browns, and missed 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 receiving yards.

After retiring from the NFL, he coached the USC running backs from 1993-97 while working again with Robinson, running back for the Trojans. He also held administrative positions in the Trojans’ athletic department.

White is survived by his ex-wife, Judian White Bache, their five children, and a granddaughter. Anniversary service details pending.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.