Making the Rounds

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor 

Head coach Steve Sarkisian traveled across the country on Wednesday to go through the ESPN Pac-12 Car Wash where he answered questions about the upcoming season and the Trojans' goal of bringing a championship back to USC. 

He hit all the popular stops in Bristol including SportsCenter, College Football Live, the Paul Finebaum Show and the Russillo Show to name a few. He battled rival UCLA head coach Jim Mora in a crosstown showdown about different Los Angeles topics like the coaches' In-N-Out orders and then got down to business to talk about what his Trojans are capable of this season. This east coast trip began Sarkisian's annual media tour prior to the start of the season with Pac-12 Media Day beginning on Thursday in Los Angeles. 

Here is the head coach on SportsCenter talking USC football...

Pac-12's Pick

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

For the first time since 2012, USC was picked by the media to win the Pac-12 Conference this season. The announcement, made on the first morning of Pac-12 Media Days, adds even greater expectation and excitement to a season already headlined by the return of senior QB Cody Kessler and 17 other 2014 starters. The Trojans received 21 of 45 votes to earn the preseason top spot. Defending conference champion Oregon earned the second-most championship votes with 17.

The media has correctly selected the conference champion in 12 of the last 15 polls. USC's quest for the Pac-12 title begins on September 19 at 5 p.m. PT when the Trojans host the Stanford Cardinal for their conference opener.


#ALLinNOW: JuJu Smith

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Every team wants to win a championship, but the focus and drive to be ALL IN NOW will separate the contenders from the pretenders in the end. The 2015 Trojans' goal is to focus on dominating every moment, every second, and being accountable for what is in their control.

Woods. Lee. Agholor. The last three years have featured three of the best wide receivers to ever play at USC. In 2015, the No. 1 wide receiver spot has sophomore JuJu Smith's name all over it. With great expectations comes great responsibility, something the wide receiver has learned after watching the procession of elite players before him. As Smith looks to the 2015 season, he knows it's time to take his game to an even higher level.

"Now that I'm a sophomore, I've really focused on being a leader in the offseason," Smith said. "Some of the biggest things I've worked on this summer have been body control, route running and continuing to build my relationship with Cody so we're always on the same page. I have a feeling it's going to be a big season and we know we've got to be ready for it."

Redd's Retro Diary: NFL Training Camp

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As told to Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor, by former USC RB Silas Redd (2012-13)

Former USC running back Silas Redd wrapped up an impressive NFL rookie season last December, overcoming injuries in his senior year at USC to sign as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins and earn his spot on the team's depth chart. A year ago, Redd was unsure of what his future held as he worked every day to prove himself through rookie training camps and ultimately in front of the entire Redskins organization at OTAs. As this year's class of Trojans enter their first NFL training camps with the hope of taking their game to the next level, Redd looks back and provides a window into what the journey to the league looks like from a player's perspective. 

The last installment of this series focuses on the period of time from signing as an undrafted free agent to making the final 53-man roster for the 2014 Washington Redskins. 

Undrafted: May 8-10, 2014

Everyone always builds up what they do on draft day. I remember just wanting to spend it with my close family and friends in my home. We had a small group of people over and just cooked and ate and waited. The worst part was waiting. I was so anxious, so nervous just because I was pretty unsure of where I was going to end up and if I was going to end up anywhere. I knew my knee was a concern and what ultimately led to me not being drafted, but I had had some good meetings with teams leading up to the draft and I thought I could go in one of the later rounds. Then, I received a call from Randy Jordan (the Redskins running backs coach) around the fifth or sixth round saying they were interested in me.  I knew I still had a long road ahead of me if I wanted to make the roster but I just had faith in myself. I just shared the moment with my family and started looking at the challenges that lay ahead. 

First Impressions: May 15-17, 2014 

I was really anxious to get to rookie camp just because I had missed the game so much. After being hurt, I was just so ready to get back out there and compete again. The whole rookie camp process is a three-day process. I had a lot of fun and more importantly, I really thought I practiced well so it gave me some confidence heading into the rest of summer workouts and OTAs. Leading up to camp, I was out in Los Angeles at the Athletic Performance Institute in Carson where I worked out before, and I really believe that they helped me get to the level I needed to be at to perform as well as I did. The thing that kept me going and that's always kept me going throughout this whole process is my family. The love and support I receive from them just gives me motivation to work that much harder despite any obstacle that I may encounter. My son is really what gave me the strength needed to grind and work like I did. 

Earning A Spot: July 24-August 28, 2014

Just as I was ready and anxious before rookie camp, I was nervous to begin training camp. The Redskins were pretty deep at the running back position so I was competing and learning from people like Alfred Morris who had the top spot on the depth chart locked up. I had played one season with his backup, Evan Royster, when I was a freshman at Penn State so I knew his capabilities and then there was also Roy Helu Jr. On top of all that talent, I was going up against rookie Lache Seastrunk, so yet again I was faced with this major obstacle where I had to fight for a chance to prove myself. 

The biggest difference I noticed once OTAs started was that I was expected to know the game of football and know what I was supposed to be doing at all times. They knew I was a rookie but at the same time they wanted to see how fast I learned, comprehended and could think. This is where I felt like it was the time to show them that I could handle the workload as far as the schemes and different plays. It was tough coming in as an undrafted free agent because that already puts me behind some of the other talent on the field, but I just took advantage of the opportunities that were given to me.

There's a saying that you don't count the reps, you make the reps count so that's what I tried to do whenever I got my chance. I really relied on the leadership from Bradford Banta, who actually played TE at USC and is the assistant special teams coach for the Redskins. He worked with me every step of the way developing my skills as a special teams player because that's really how I made the team. I had never really done special teams, especially tackling, so I worked closely with him to get my skills to the necessary level to earn a spot.

Athlete to Athlete: Jordan Adams

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

With the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in our own backyard this week, USC athletics wanted to do everything it could to be involved. Trojan athletes from a handful of sports came out to support different events throughout the week and learn more about some of the incredible competitors at this year's Games. 

On Tuesday, USC women's basketball guard Jordan Adams stopped by Galen Center to visit with some of the Games' basketball competitors. She met a charismatic South African who's loving life in Los Angeles and an inspirational American who is pursuing his dreams thanks to the Special Olympics.

Here is Adams interviewing basketball players from the Games at the Galen Center...

Football Fall Camp Public Practices

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor 

USC football fall camp begins on August 8 at 6:30 p.m. PT. Many of USC's on-campus practices are open to the public, so fans are welcome to come out and support the Trojans as they prepare for the upcoming season. 

Check out the schedule below for practices that are open for public viewing, but note that availability and times are subject to change.  Fans will be required to sign in before entering practice so be sure to bring an ID. The public will be able to watch practice from the east sideline of Howard Jones Field or from the deck of Dedeaux Field. Remember that in-season practices are closed to the public so take advantage of the opportunity to see the Trojans in action before the season kicks off. 

Here is the list of fall camp practices that are open to the public:

August 8 - 6:30 p.m.
August 9 - 6:30 p.m.
August 10 - 2:30 p.m.
August 11 - 7:00 p.m.
August 12 - 7:00 p.m.
August 14 - 8:45 a.m.
August 15 - 2:30 p.m. 
August 16 - 2:30 p.m.
August 17 - 6:45 p.m.
August 19 - 9:00 a.m.
August 20 - 2:30 p.m.
August 21 - 2:30 p.m.
August 22 - 2:30 p.m. 


Building a Winner

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor 

Check out who's on this month's Sports Illustrated for Kids cover! USC QB Cody Kessler is featured in the special college football preview edition alongside fellow elite players including TCU's QB Trevone Boykin, Ohio State's RB Ezekiel Elliott and Auburn's WR D'Haquille Williams. 

Kessler is the man with the plan to bring home a national championship to USC, but it all starts by winning one game at a time. Arkansas State is up first on September 5 at 8:00 p.m. PT. 


Sark Sightings

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

On Wednesday, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian will be making the rounds in Bristol for the annual ESPN Pac-12 Car Wash. The coach's busy schedule includes television segments, radio interviews, photos and more.

Here's the schedule for all of today's Sark Sightings:
  • 8:20 a.m. PT - SportsCenter
  • 9:00 a.m. PT - Mason & Ireland (ESPN Radio)
  • 10:00 a.m. PT - Russillo (ESPN Radio)
  • 11:00 a.m. PT - College Football Live

Follow @USC_Athletics on Twitter all day for a behind-the-scenes look at Coach Sark's day.


Influential Strokes

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

USA Swimming released its list of the 30 Most Influential People in Swimming over the Past 30 Years on Tuesday and six former or current USC swimmers and coaches made the cut, including current head coach Dave Salo. 

The late Peter Daland, who coached USC for 35 years and led the Trojans to nine NCAA team championships, joins Salo on the list as well as former USC head coach and former USA head coach Mark Schubert. Rounding out the crop of Trojans who made the list are former USC All-American and current Cal head women's coach Teri McKeever, USC graduate and all-time swimming great Janet Evans and current volunteer assistant coach Jon Urbanchek. 

The list was created in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the partnership between USA Swimming and Speedo USA with the hopes of honoring those who have transformed the sport. 


#ALLinNOW: Tre Madden

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Every team wants to win a championship, but the focus and drive to be ALL IN NOW will separate the contenders from the pretenders in the end. The 2015 Trojans' goal is to focus on dominating every moment, every second, and being accountable for what is in their control.

Returning from injury even stronger than before is one of the most difficult objectives in sport. However, that's exactly what redshirt senior running back Tre Madden is looking to accomplish this season. Sidelined in 2014 after undergoing surgery for a foot injury, Madden watched as Buck Allen took over the starting role in the backfield. Now with Allen taking his reps in the NFL, the wealth of carries will be distributed between Madden and junior Justin Davis, making this offseason one of the most important in Madden's career.

"I've really just been making sure that I stay focused," he explained in a recent ESPN article. "Coach Nansen told me that he wanted me to have the best offseason, and I feel like I have as far as getting conditioned and dropping the weight that I put on after surgery."

The running back isn't intimidated by the work that lies ahead. Feeling 100 percent heading into camp, Madden is ready to hit the ground running on what he hopes is his best season yet.