C.R. Roberts is most comfortable when he’s on the move. Even at 82, he defaults easily to his natural pose, weight shifted forward to the balls of his feet in a fighter’s stance.
Roberts wasn’t a boxer. He was a running back who sparred with the world around him. On this July afternoon, he walks across the second floor of USC’s Heritage Hall, trying to remember his greatest battle. It comes with a story that stayed buried in his memory for nearly six decades — at least the part he finds interesting.
Roberts’ mind, drifting from the effects of age and dementia, isn’t sparked by discussing the 1956 USC-Texas matchup in Austin. Sure, he ran the ball 12 times for 251 yards, a Trojans single-game record that stood for 20 years. But he doesn’t see the importance of that anymore.
Until USC’s loss to Stanford, JT Daniels’ last defeat as a starting quarterback goes all the way back to December 2016, when Santa Ana’s Mater Dei High fell to St. John Bosco in the CIF Southern Section championship.
Entering his first college season, coming off an undefeated state championship run in 2017, Daniels’ camp was readying him to face the inevitable trying moments that would come with the jump in competition.
“He’s never really failed,” Scot Prohaska, Daniels’ personal trainer and emotional guru, told The Times in May. “He’s going to have some struggles at USC. My goal is to mentor him through those, make sure he has the right mind-set to grow and not feel all the expectations he has on him. It’s been frustrating that he hasn’t failed at anything, because I haven’t gotten to teach him those lessons.”