Setting the Stage
Carson Palmer was highly recruited out of high school and had scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Miami and many others, but ultimately stayed in-state and attended the University of Southern California. He became the starter for the Trojans late in his freshman season and eventually passed for over 10,000 yards and 65 TDs.
Palmer capped off his collegiate career with an amazing senior season in 2002, passing for 3,942 yards and 33 TDs and also running for another four TDs. He also became the fifth Trojan player and first quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy. He followed up that honor in the spring by being drafted #1 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. His combination of prototypical size and outstanding arm strength could not be overlooked. He surprisingly sat out his entire rookie season, being mentored by starting quarterback Jon Kitna (who won Comeback Player of the year) and learning under the tutelage of first year Head Coach Marvin Lewis and Quarterback Coach Ken Zampese.