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Passings / Elmer Willhoite

Champion USC football guard

September 03, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Elmer Willhoite, 78, an All-American guard on USC's Rose Bowl championship football team of 1952, died Aug. 21 of a stroke in Hawthorne, Nev., where he lived, USC announced.

Against UCLA late in the 1952 season, Willhoite returned an interception 72 yards to set up the game-deciding touchdown in a 14-12 victory, sending the Trojans to the Rose Bowl. USC went on to beat Wisconsin, 7-0, on Jan. 1, 1953, the Pacific Coast Conference's first Rose Bowl victory over the Big Ten representative since the conferences began their agreement in 1947.

Willhoite, who grew up in Merced, played on the offensive and defensive line for USC in 1951 and '52. He was drafted by the NFL's Cleveland Browns but spent two years playing in Canada before a knee injury ended his professional football career.

He also had a short professional boxing career.

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