#USCtotheNFL: Combine Crew

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The path to the 2016 NFL Draft is officially underway, with seven Trojans accepting invitations to the NFL Combine at the end of February. The group includes: QB Cody Kessler, C Max Tuerk, RB Tre Madden, CB Kevon Seymour, FB Soma Vainuku, DT Antwaun Woods and junior OLB Su'a Cravens. USC's seven attendees ranks second in the Pac-12, with crosstown rival UCLA leading the conference with nine. Overall, 49 players from the conference received invitations on Thursday.

Click here to see all the 2016 NFL Combine attendees and track their progress in Indianapolis.

The NFL Combine begins on February 23 in Indianapolis and continues through February 29. The aspiring pros spend the week participating in a gauntlet of events including measurements, drills, team meetings and workout sessions.

Stay tuned here at the Ripsit blog and @USC_Athletics for live updates, photos and recaps of the Trojans' progress in Indianapolis.


Super Sub

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Sophomore guard Elijah Stewart began the season as a starter for USC men's basketball, posting a double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds) in the home opener against San Diego. But, he hit a shooting slump during non-conference play, relegating him to a role off the bench.

Instead of seeing the move as a demotion, Stewart has thrived as USC's "sixth man", leading the Pac-12 in bench scoring. In conference games alone, he is averaging 12.2 points per game, shooting 52.4 percent from three-point range.

On the season, Stewart leads the Trojans in three-point makes and ranks fifth in the Pac-12 in three-point accuracy. He has scored in double figures in five consecutive games.

One game out of first place in the conference, No. 23 USC hits the road this week for games at Arizona State (Friday at 5 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks) and Arizona (Sunday at 5 p.m. PT on Fox Sports 1).

Golf Duo on Watch

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Announced on Wednesday, a pair of USC men's golfers - junior Rico Hoey and sophomore Sean Crocker - earned a spot on the Ben Hogan Award Watch List for their early success this season. The nomination is the second of Hoey's career and a first for Crocker. USC is one of just three schools with multiple players on the list in addition to Illinois and Wake Forest.

Click here for more on the prestigious award

Hoey, who is currently ranked No. 11 in the country by, leads the Trojans in stroke average (69.93) and rounds in the 60s (seven), while Crocker, who ranks 39th, has a stroke average of 71.20 and a pair of top 10 finishes this season.

The Ben Hogan Award is given each year to the top men's NCAA Division I, II or III, NAIA or NJCAA college golfer. The list of 10 semifinalists, which could feature individuals not on the current list, will be revealed on April 13.


Trojans in Business: Dr. William Stetson

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Name: Dr. William Stetson

Resume: Orthopedic Surgeon at Stetson & Powell

Sport at USC: Men's Volleyball

Caroline Deisley (CD): Did you always know that you wanted to be a surgeon and go into medicine?

Bill Stetson (BS): I knew I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon since I was 12. I really did. I did my first research paper when I was 13 on meniscus tears. So, I've always had a passion for medicine. My dad was a general practitioner and I liked what he did, the relationships he had with the community and the ability to help people. But, he worked really hard, he really did. His friends who were the orthopedic surgeons were far and away the happiest that I met. I said, there's got to be something to this so I started looking into it. Then, my mom started working for one of the orthopedic surgeons and we got to be good friends with him. I started spending time in the office, watching surgery and I just found the passion.

CD: How hard was it, once you got to USC and were here playing volleyball, to balance a Pre-Med workload?

BS: It was very challenging, as you can imagine. For volleyball, we started practice the first week in September. Now, I think they have a different schedule. We used to start the first week in September, five to six days a week, three to four hours a day. We practiced the entire year up until the NCAA Finals, which was in early May.

CD: That's a lot! How were you able to balance?

BS: It's a commitment. It just took a lot of sacrifice and time management as you can imagine. I knew I  was just a driven kid. I knew I wanted to be the best volleyball player that I could, but I also knew that there was going to be life after volleyball. So, I committed to getting the best grades that I could so I could go to medical school. I wanted to go to medical school at USC so it was a great combination.

CD: What was it like to be a student-athlete here in the '80s? It was somewhat of the "glory days" for many of USC's teams with a lot going on for athletes.

BS: It was pretty amazing if you think about it. For the volleyball team, we were very successful. We went to four Final Fours and won a national championship during that time. The women's volleyball team was also successful. We had some fantastic football teams, some great track & field teams and swimming teams. It was really quite something. I guess we really assumed that every team was going to be a champion but as we know that doesn't always happen.

CD: Now you've stayed somewhat with the volleyball tradition, you get to work with the U.S. volleyball teams as a team doctor. What's it like to still be around volleyball while combining it with your other true passion?

BS: It's really been a nice adventure I would say. I got involved with USA Volleyball about 15 years ago. They used to be based in Colorado Springs and then when they moved to Anaheim it just made it easy for me to take care of them. So, I take care of both the women and the men's national teams. I was able to accompany them to the London Olympics in 2012.

CD: And what was that experience like?

BS: It was quite something, but it was a lot of time away from my family. I have a young family and being away was a little difficult. But, my wife and I made that commitment and we made the sacrifice for it and so did my family, but it was really something, a great experience.

CD: How do you feel now that you are able to combine your knowledge of being an athlete with the work you do with professional athletes? Does that help you?

BS: I think it does give me an advantage and hopefully a little bit of an edge. I understand where they're coming from and for most of them, their sport is their passion. They will do anything they can to get back on that court, get back on that field. I understand that, but I also understand the medical part and the orthopedic part. I need to help them get back as quickly but as safely as possible.

CD: Now that you did take some time off to go through medical school, what was it like getting back into volleyball?

BS: After college, I actually continued to play volleyball. I spent a couple of years in Europe playing volleyball. I deferred my entrance to medical school for a year and played in Germany. Then I came back and continued to play in the United States. I was the assistant coach for USC when Bob Yoder was the head coach while I was in medical school, so that was a challenge. Bob's a great guy and was very understanding about my schedule. I also continued to play on the beach and indoors. We were the USA national champions for five years straight when I came back from Germany. Balancing volleyball and my medical studies is always something I've done.

CD: One thing that I always like to ask former athletes is when you look at college students right now who are trying to combine both their athletic careers and aspirations with their studies, what advice would you give them about having a more balanced life?

BS: I think that's really a great question and I see a lot of it in my practice where the kids are sacrificing some of their studies for the practice field. I think you have to balance both. Not all of us are going to be professional athletes, there's very few of us that are going to get a scholarship to college. I think you use sports to build character, be a part of a team, and build integrity. It's really about your studies. I would tell parents out there, 'Don't push your kids too hard in athletics. Create that balance for them. You don't want kids to burn out.' We see a lot of juniors and seniors in high school who have been playing sports since they were six because dad wanted them to be the next Sandy Koufax. You really need to create that balance and communicate that with your children.

CD: What do you think is the hardest part about realizing that maybe my career is done, that this is the time my body is telling me I can't do this anymore?

BS: That is a really tough one. We see it with a lot of athletes. I know I felt it myself. I played with no injuries up until I was 34. I was still playing volleyball at the time but the body just started breaking down. I had four knee surgeries in two years. It just happens. I think you just have to prepare yourself. Know that you're not going to play forever but keep yourself in the best shape possible because you can continue to play even after you stop playing competitively. Staying in shape is really important.

CD: For someone who has a list of accomplishments, what else is there for you? Is there anything that you are working on that you want to accomplish or are you just trying to do what you love every day?

BS: I really do love what I do every single day and the relationships that I have especially with my athletes. They have an injury and a lot of them are worried about if they are going to continue playing. I talk to them about what their plans are after athletics, after volleyball or after football. I think that's a very good conversation for them to have because sometimes no one has ever had that conversation with them and they are afraid to talk to other people about it. I enjoy that. I enjoy having that discussion with them and I tell them I'm always available to talk about different options after their careers. I've helped about a half dozen of my athletes after they have retired get interviews and jobs in the healthcare industry and other arenas.

Let the Battle Begin

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For the first time in three years, USC is entering spring football without a returning starter. After three years at the helm, Cody Kessler is off to the NFL, which leaves four talented potential replacements on the Trojan roster who will battle it out this offseason for the role of QB1.

After waiting in the wings for three years, redshirt sophomore Max Browne leads the group with regards to experience. Jalen Greene, who, according to head coach Clay Helton, will try his hand at the quarterback position again this year, brings speed to the competition. Redshirt freshman Sam Darnold has been touted for his athleticism and spent his first year at USC learning the playbook as he awaited his chance to compete this season. Newcomer dual-threat quarterback Matt Fink is a member of the 2016 recruiting class, but arrived in January to get a jump start on his Trojan career.

Each contender brings something unique to the table, and in addition to their on-field skills, the quarterbacks' confidence, leadership and poise will also play an important role in who is given the starting nod. Browne, who challenged Kessler in his first season at USC, believes he can check all of the necessary boxes to take on the starting role.

"You're aware of every single option, but I fully plan to win the starting job here, to start and finish my career here," Browne told ESPN's Ted Miller when asked about the upcoming position battle.

Click here to read Miller's complete profile on Browne.

The Trojans will have five weeks in the spring to begin sorting things out under center, but there are no guarantees head coach Clay Helton names a starter before Fall Camp. Whoever does earn the job has a challenging starting debut awaiting them when the Trojans travel to Arlington, Texas on September 3 to take on the reining national champion Alabama Crimson Tide.

Click here to listen to head coach Clay Helton's Spreecast from Tuesday in which he discusses Browne, Greene, Darnold and Fink.


Latest on Pat Haden

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Here is the latest update on Pat Haden (5 p.m. PT):

USC athletic director Pat Haden is resting comfortably at a local hospital.  His condition is stable and he is undergoing medical tests.  He plans to be back soon watching his Trojans in action.  He thanks all for their concern.

In response to reports about USC athletic director Pat Haden this morning (12 p.m. PT):

Haden was walking back from an on-campus meeting this morning and felt lightheaded, similar to how he felt at the Notre Dame game last October.  He sat down outside Heritage Hall and the athletic department's medical personnel attended to him.  Haden was alert and talking as he walked under his own power up to his office in Heritage Hall. Medical personnel continued to attend to him there before transporting him to his doctor off campus.

USC to the Real World

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

USC Student-Athlete Academic Services hosted a career fair for all Trojan athletes last Tuesday night featuring companies like Ernst & Young, New York Life, Fox Sports, CBS and more. The student-athletes mingled and networked with business professionals as they learned about potential internship and full-time positions for life after college and after their athletic careers come to an end. SAAS also provided workshops for the athletes to create perfect resumes and enhance their LinkedIn profiles.

Click here to learn more about the services offered at SAAS.


You Done Good, Dhillon

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USC junior forward Samer Dhillon was one of just five players in DI college basketball named to the 2016 Allstate NABC Good Works Team announced on Tuesday. Dhillon, a human biology major with a laundry list of philanthropic activities, fits every qualification for the honor, which recognizes an impressive group of student-athletes who demonstrate a commitment to their communities.

Click here for more on Dhillon and the Allstate NABC Good Works Team.

Busy even outside of his hectic basketball schedule, Dhillon is the co-founder of the first-ever USC mobile health clinic, is the CEO of Quest Investment Firm and spent the offseason doing Alzheimer's research for the Keck School of Medicine. Click here to read a feature on the Trojan, who may be the most fascinating man in college basketball.

Joining Dhillon on this year's Good Works Team are Kyler Erickson (Omaha), Anthony Gill (Virginia), Jeff Laidig (Belmont) and Shavon Shields (Nebraska). They will be recognized during the 2016 NABC Convention and the 2016 Men's Final Four in Houston, Texas.

10 for 100

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As the Pac-12 continues to roll out its all-century teams, USC men's swimming and diving littered the conference's selections for its sport with 10 Trojans led by "Coach of the Century" Peter Daland.

Click here for more.

In addition to Daland, USC's selections included Brian Earley on Platform, Steve Furniss, Erik Vendt and Dave Wharton in the IM, Bruce Furniss and Joe Bottom in Freestyle Sprints (50-200), Lenny Krayzelburg and John Naber in the Backstroke, Murray Rose in Freestyle Distance and current Trojan head diving coach Hongping Li on 1-meter.

#USCtotheNFL 2016 Season in Review

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The Best

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals

Palmer-up.jpgWhile the 2002 Heisman Trophy winner did not reach his Super Bowl goals, he still enjoyed a career season at the age of 36. Palmer set Arizona's franchise record by tossing 35 touchdown passes to go along with 4,671 yards passing. The Cardinals went 13-3, losing the NFC Championship Game to Carolina, and Palmer was one of three players to earn a first place vote for NFL MVP.

Pro Bowlers

Clay Matthews, LB, Packers - 49 solo tackles and 6.5 sacks (5th Pro Bowl in 6 seasons)

Tyron Smith, LT, Cowboys - Started 79 of 80 games in his career (3rd consecutive Pro Bowl)

Ryan Kalil, C, Panthers - 1st Team All-Pro led Carolina to the Super Bowl (5th career Pro Bowl)

Jurrell Casey, DT, Titants - 34 solo tackles and 7 sacks en route to 1st career Pro Bowl


Malcolm Smith, LB, Raiders - 100 solo tackles, 4 sacks and 4 forced turnovers in 16 starts

Everson Griffen, DE, Vikings - 34 solo tackles and 10.5 sacks for a playoff team

Brian Cushing, LB, Texans - 63 solo tackles, 3 PDs and a forced fumble in 16 starts

Rey Maualuga, LB, Bengals - 43 solo tackles, 4 PDs and an INT in 15 games


williams-LW.jpgLeonard Williams, DE, Jets - Started 15 of 16 games and made 29 solo tackles and 3 sacks

Buck Allen, RB, Ravens - 137 carries for 514 yards plus 45 catches for 353 yards and 3 total TDs

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles - 23 catches for 283 yards and 1 TD

Hayes Pullard, LB, Jaguars - 19 tackles in 8 games plus a blocked punt

Josh Shaw, CB, Bengals - 15 tackles and a PD

J.R. Tavai, OLB, Titans - 2 solo tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in 4 games

Best of the Rest

Frostee Rucker, DE, Cardinals - 20 solo tackles, 3 sacks, a forced fumble and a safety in 13 starts

T.J. McDonald, S, Rams - 38 solo tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in 11 starts

Jordan Cameron, TE, Dolphins - 35 catches for 386 yards and 3 TDs in 16 starts

Robert Woods, WR, Bills - 47 catches for 552 yards and 3 TDs in 14 games

Nickell Robey, CB, Bills - 38 solo tackles, 4 PDs and a sack in 16 games

Matt Cassel, QB, Cowboys - 1,276 yards passing and 5 TDs in 9 games

Kalil-Matt.jpgRhett Ellison, TE, Vikings - 11 catches for 124 yards and a TD in 15 games (9 starts)

Marqise Lee, WR, Jaguars - 15 catches for 191 yards and a TD in 10 games

Devon Kennard, LB, Giants - 36 solo tackles, 4 PDs and an INT in 9 starts

Mark Sanchez, QB, Eagles - 616 yards passing and 4 TDs in 4 games (2 starts)

Matt Kalil, LT, Vikings - Started all 64 games in his NFL career

Marcus Martin, C, 49ers - Started 14 games this season

Shareece Wright, CB, Ravens - 34 solo tackles and 5 PDs in 11 games

Nick Perry, OLB, Packers - 16 solo tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 14 games

Dion Bailey, S, Seahawks/Jets - 16 solo tackles, 2 PDs and 0.5 sacks in 7 games

Khaled Holmes, C, Colts - Career-high 7 starts

Mike Morgan, LB, Seahawks - 7 solo tackles and a sack in 14 games

Allen Bradford, LB, Falcons - 6 tackles in 6 games