Rey Maualuga, Keith Rivers, Frostee Rucker and Taylor Mays are all a part of the 2011 Bengals second-ranked defense. Maualuga and Rucker have been bigger parts, obviously, as Mays has seen very limited action and Rivers has yet to take the field. All four of these players have something more in common -- they all played for Pete Carroll while playing college football at the University of Souther California. Carroll will be united with them when his team, the Seahawks host the Bengals on Sunday.
Maualuga, Rivers and Rucker were all a part of the Trojans' 2005 BCS National Championship runners up team that lost to Texas in the Rose Bowl. After the '05 season, Rucker was drafted by the Bengals. In 2006, Maualuga and Rivers were still at USC and were joined by freshman safety Taylor Mays. The three played together in '06 and '07 before Rivers was drafted by the Bengals in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft. Maualuga followed Rivers to Cincinnati when he was drafted in the second round by the Bengals in 2009. Mays made his way to Cincinnati before the 2011 season via a trade with the San Francisco 49ers.
On seeing four of his former players on Sunday, Carroll said he's payed attention to their careers and that they are all close to his heart.
"Those guys are good football players. I know Rey has been banged up a little bit, and I haven’t seen Keith – I guess he’s been banged up for a long time. But it’s always fun to watch our guys. All those guys are very close to my heart. We did a lot of stuff together, won a lot of games, had a lot of fun. I always keep an eye on our former players."
Luckily for the Bengals, they were able to grab four good defensive players from USC before Carroll went to the NFL and even though Rivers and Mays haven't been a huge part of the team's second-ranked defense like Maualuga and, to a lesser extent, Ruckers have, they will likely contribute more in the future. It would be fun to watch all four of these players go up against their former coach but unfortunately, Rucker will likely be the only one who puts in any sort of substantial playing time.