By Any Other Name

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

USC sophomore wide receiver JuJu Smith legally changed his name to JuJu Smith-Schuster this summer to honor his stepfather. The wide receiver decided to make the change last season but the process took several months to become official.

Click here to read Gary Klein's profile on Smith-Schuster's name change in the LA Times.

"I'm very proud of it," explained Smith-Schuster. "He came into my life when I was four years old and taught me right from wrong, without him I wouldn't be here today."


55 Enshrined

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

On Saturday, the late USC All-American and NFL legend Junior Seau was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming the first-ever Polynesian and Samoan to have his bust forever immortalized in Canton. His enshrinement makes it a record-tying 12 Trojans in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
No. 55 is one of USC's all-time greats, receiving All-American honors in 1989 before being drafted fifth overall by the Chargers in the 1990 NFL Draft. The linebacker played in San Diego for thirteen seasons, as well as for the Miami Dolphins (2003-05) and New England Patriots (2006-09). Seau played in twelve Pro Bowls in his 20 seasons in the NFL and is the only player with at least 50 sacks, 15 interceptions and 15 opponent fumble recoveries since 1982.

Seau's daughter Sydney, a former USC women's beach volleyball player, gave an emotional induction speech on behalf of her father, a player who inspired generations of football players and fans both on and off the field.

"His athleticism and talent made him extraordinary enough to make it into the Hall of Fame, but it's his passion and heart that make him truly legendary," his daughter said at Saturday night's induction ceremony.

To watch Sydney Seau's entire presentation speech in honor of her father, click here.

Bust photo credit to Ben Liebenberg, NFL Staff Photographer.

Photo Gallery: Fall Camp #1

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The Trojans were full of energy on Saturday for the first practice of Fall Camp 2015. Intensity was high on both sides of the ball for veterans and freshmen alike who were eager to compete alongside each other for the first official time this season.

Check out all the John McGillen photos from the first day, including a look at many of the talented players in the Class of 2015...

2015 Fall Camp #1: Notes

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Fall Camp is officially underway as the Trojans hit the practice field in front of more than 300 spectators.
  • Head coach Steve Sarkisian said that 105 players practiced, and two more are injured, so the numbers, albeit with walk-ons included, look a lot more like pre-sanctions USC. "It just feels so different," said Sarkisian. "The depth is great, but it's the quality of the depth that's so great."
  • image1.JPGThe talent level is rising as the massive freshman class finds its feet. The highly touted group featured several day one standouts including TE Tyler Petite, who Sarkisian highlighted for making catches over the middle, RB Ronald Jones II, who had at least one eye-popping run, and LB Porter Gustin and DB Ykili Ross, who each had an interception.
  • QB Cody Kessler loves the weapons now at his disposal, especially with the three new freshman running backs. "[Dominic Davis] is so fast and Ronald and [Aca'Cedric Ware], those guys are so athletic," said the senior quarterback. "I was telling Sark, 'We've really got some weapons now.' It's going to be so fun to see those guys play."
  • At the receiver spot, Steven Mitchell and QB-turned-WR Jalen Greene reeled in deep balls.
  • Turnovers are an emphasis for Sarkisian, so the head coach was happy that the defense hawked the ball all night. Along with Gustin and Ross, Chris Hawkins made a pick at his new safety position.
  • Three-way talent Adoree' Jackson will spend the first 11 practices solely on defense and then the next six exclusively on offense. After that, he will flip-flop back-and-forth like he did last season.
  • The defense won the "finish challenge" despite a great catch by sophomore WR JuJu Smith to keep the offense alive. "I can't wait to get the pads on and see who's really ready to play," said OLB Su'a Cravens, who complimented Smith on the offensive side. "The defense won today so we're in no rush, but as soon as the offense starts getting under our skin, we're going to love to get those pads on."
  • Defensively, Sarkisian noted the activity of redshirt junior OLB Jabari Ruffin. "It feels amazing to be back," said Ruffin, who missed a full year to rehab from knee surgery. "When I was first post-op, that was the roughest part. Throughout the months, throughout the days, it got easier and easier. It was for sure the hardest thing that I had to deal with in my entire life."
  • Ruffin is part of a key group of veteran players lost to injury last season that should provide a major boost this fall including OT Chad Wheeler, RB Tre Madden, LB Lamar Dawson and DL Kenny Bigelow. "Chad has been my roommate since the season ended, and so we have been grinding literally every day together," said Ruffin. "I love Chad. We all got love for each other, and we make sure to always push each other."
  • While Cravens looked unblockable in spring and picked up another sack of Kessler tonight, Ruffin is part of an important competition on the opposite side to fill the shoes of J.R. Tavai. "I am a bit faster and stronger than typical outside linebackers, so I can bring the pass rush to the table," Ruffin said. "I know that, so I have just been working hard every day to embrace this role for my teammates."
  • The Trojans are back at it Sunday night at 6:30. The practice is open to the public. Here is Sarkisian's first post-practice press conference of the new season:

Unplugged: Move-In Day

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The 2015 Trojans officially checked into Fall Camp this morning. Senior DT Antwaun Woods served as our tour guide of the team's home for the next couple weeks.

Willie on Junior

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USC legend Junior Seau will officially become the 12th Trojan inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. The enshrinement ceremony begins at 4 p.m. PT on NFL Network.

Click here for Seau's Hall of Fame profile.

In anticipation, Willie McGinest, who became a New England Patriots Hall of Famer earlier this week, wrote a tribute to the late Junior Seau for The Players' Tribune. McGinest continued the No. 55 tradition at USC set by Seau.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

"That was the first thing I learned about Junior Seau: He was fiercely proud and unconditionally loyal. That No. 55 was his way of leaving his lasting mark on the USC football program, but also of giving back to the program by giving the best linebackers in the country another reason to choose USC.

The No. 55 is a great USC tradition, and it all started with Junior."

Seau (left) with Keyshawn Johnson, McGinest and Sam Cunningham just days before his death.

Sark Visits Dannywood

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian stopped by the Dan Patrick Show on Friday to talk USC football, the crosstown rivalry and the challenge of recruiting in the Pac-12. His visit to "Dannywood" comes just before the Trojans jump into Fall Camp, and Patrick was sure to ask Sarkisian about his expectations for the 2015 squad.

Below is Part I of Sarkisian's interview. For Part II, click here.

Updated: Haden Faces Storm

USC athletic director Pat Haden went "Face to Face with Hannah Storm" as part of a SportsCenter special that is airing all week on the ESPN family of networks. Storm was recently at Heritage Hall to interview Haden for her new show profiling newsmakers from all different sports.

"Pat Haden was really fascinating, obviously he talks about the college football playoff, and the issue when he came down to the sidelines last year, and the pressure that he felt coming into USC with all the sanctions, but also we have a very poignant conversation about him being the father of a gay son and not going to the college football meetings in Indianapolis, and I just think that him as a parent is something he hasn't talked about, and he is such a wonderful example of parenting and family," Storm said about the interview.

Here is a five-minute segment of the feature:


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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

ESPN finished the week-long unveiling of its CFB Rank on Friday, with two more Trojans notching top 20 spots in the network's list of the 100 best college football players entering the 2015 season. USC three-way phenom Adoree' Jackson and QB Cody Kessler landed back-to-back in the rankings, earning the No. 16 and No. 17 spots, respectively.

USC has the second most players in ESPN's Top 50 of any school.  Reigning National Champion Ohio State leads the country with seven players while the Trojans boast five. Joining Kessler and Jackson on the list are LB Su'a Cravens (No. 25), C Max Tuerk (No. 46) and WR JuJu Smith (tied for No. 47).


Bracket Shocker

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USC men's basketball will open the AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando against Wichita State, fresh off a Sweet 16 run, on November 26 (ESPN2). After the Shockers, the Trojans will face either Alabama or Xavier on November 27. USC will play a third game in the tournament against Notre Dame, Monmouth, Iowa or Dayton on November 29.

Click here for more information on the AdvoCare Invitational.

The Trojans open the 2015-16 season on November 13 against San Diego at Galen Center. Season tickets are now officially on sale!