Play 4 Kay

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Tomorrow night when USC women's basketball kicks off its final home stand of the season, the team will host Play 4 Kay night to raise awareness for breast cancer.

The Play 4 Kay initiative was created 11 years ago as part of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, honoring the late NC State women's basketball coach.

The Trojans will wear pink during Friday's game and the first 500 fans in attendance will receive a special Play 4 Kay long sleeve shirt to help support the cause. Fans can also donate to the cause by clicking here.

On Play 4 Kay night, USC hosts Washington State with hopes to even the season series. At 13-12 on the year, the Trojans could use the momentum heading into next month's Pac-12 Tournament.

Tip-off is at 6 p.m. on Friday evening at the Galen Center. Click here to purchase tickets!

Mindfulness Grant for USC

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USC Athletics has been awarded a $25,000 grant through the NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program to develop and evaluate a mindfulness training program that will enhance student-athlete mental health.

NCAA Research.jpegUSC is one of five research teams awarded an NCAA grant this year as part of a program aimed at funding projects that will bring tangible benefits to college athletes, specifically in the area of psychosocial well-being and mental health.

The other grant recipients are Rowan University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Western Kentucky University and Sonoma State University.  They will produce work that includes career development, promoting resiliency, and mental health support for injured student-athletes.  A total of $100,000 is being awarded this year.

This is the fourth year of the NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program. These five research teams will present their findings in January at the 2018 NCAA Convention in Indianapolis.

USC's grant proposal, authored by researchers Dr. Robin M. Scholefield and Dr. Dylan M. Firsick, noted that "the severity and number of mental health symptoms are increasing on college campuses. Many student-athletes report overwhelming distress as time demands and performance pressure contribute to this group being 'at risk' for psychological and academic difficulties. Time-limited, evidenced-based interventions for coping and distress tolerance are greatly needed."

USC's study will seek to implement a five-session, mindfulness-based training program with three primary goals: improve mindfulness skills, increase overall well-being, and reduce anxiety within student-athletes.  Results will be formatted into a training program handbook for implementation among NCAA member institutions.

A panel that reviewed the 63 proposals and selected the grant awardees was composed of athletics administrators, mental health practitioners, current student-athletes and scholars representing all three NCAA divisions. 

Exceptional Talent

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NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock released his top five prospects at every position for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft, putting Adoree' Jackson on top of the list for "special exceptions." While Jackson won the Jim Thorpe Award, Mayock still sees him as a "raw" talent at corner who could develop into a shutdown guy, but he knows that he can contribute immediately in the return game.

Click here to watch Mayock's full assessment of Jackson.

Jackson will showcase his skills and athleticism at the NFL Combine (March 3-6) in Indianapolis alongside seven of his USC teammates. He could potentially work out for scouts again at USC Pro Day on March 22.


Trojan of the Week: Shaqquan Aaron

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The Trojan Family voted USC men's basketball redshirt sophomore Shaqquan Aaron the Jersey Mike's Player of the Week after he scored 21 points in 23 minutes in the win over Oregon State. Aaron has picked up his play of late, emerging as the hero of the UCLA victory, and then putting together a similar performance in the blowout of the Beavers.

Aaron will hope to reprise his role as the Bruin killer this Saturday night (7 p.m.) at Pauley Pavilion.


Show Your Stuff

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Today, eight Trojans were officially invited to the 2017 NFL Combine, tied for the most participants of any school in the conference.

OT Zach Banner, RB Justin Davis, CB Adoree' Jackson, OG Damien Mama, WR Darreus Rogers, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, NT Stevie Tu'ikolovatu and OT Chad Wheeler will represent USC at the Combine, which takes place from Feb. 28 to March 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

At the Combine, these Trojans will participate in scouting events such as the 40-yard dash, the bench press, the vertical and broad jump, the 3 cone drill and the shuttle run, as well as a number of position-specific drills.

USC's eight invitees are one more than last year and are tied with Utah for the most in the Pac-12 this year. Of the seven Trojans at the Combine last year, four were drafted (Su'a Cravens, Cody Kessler, Max Tuerk, Kevon Seymour). Seymour turned heads by running a 4.39 40 -- tied for the eighth fastest time of any player.

The 2017 NFL Combine will be broadcast live on NFL Network. Follow @USC_Athletics on Twitter to get all the latest news about the Trojans as they prepare for the next step of their careers.

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Public Figure

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USC athletic director Lynn Swann has never shied away from the spotlight, saying, "I don't want to be a nail on the wall. I want to be someone who decides where the wall goes." And as he takes on the latest challenge of his career, he spent some time with us, as part of our USC Black History Month coverage, to reflect on the qualities of the great leaders who influenced him, the lessons of his parents and his vision for the future.

Click here to read our USC BHM feature on Lynn Swann.

Swann had the opportunity to play for legendary coaches and leaders at the college and NFL level. Four-time national champion John McKay "taught me how to delegate. He coached the coaches." And, four-time Super Bowl champion Chuck Noll was a "teacher" who taught Swann the value of "hard work and preparation."

While Swann was a USC team captain in 1973, football made him realize that there are "moments to lead and moments to follow." As a wide receiver, he had to defer to the quarterback as the natural leader of the team even if it was against his nature.


Student Videographers Wanted

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The USC Athletics Video Operations Department is now taking applications from currently enrolled USC students who are driven, enthusiastic, possess a great work ethic, and have a passion for USC football.

We are looking to hire student videographers to help with Spring Football, Fall Camp and the upcoming 2017 season.

While a strong work ethic is required, this is a great opportunity for passionate students to get inside the program.

If you are interested, click here to email Eric Espinoza.

Previous camera and/or editing experience is a plus, but not required. Come join our team and get the opportunity at a firsthand look inside the program!


Birdie On My Shoulder

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USC women's golf finished one stroke ahead of the pack to win the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge today.

Click here for the full recap!

The No. 2 Trojans set a tournament record with a 4-over 856 (285-282-289), in their spring opener. It's the fourth time in school history the team's taken home the title at the Northrop Grumman and the first time since 2014.

Senior Victoria Morgan led the pack with a par 213, tied for seventh overall. Sophomore Robynn Ree (14th) and senior Gabriella Then (17th) also finished in the Top 20.

Next up for USC is a trip to San Luis Obispo, CA for the Bruin Invitational on Feb. 27-28.

2017 USC Football Coaches Clinic

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The USC Football Coaches Clinic, featuring head coach Clay Helton of the Rose Bowl champion Trojans along with his entire coaching staff and guest speakers, will be held March 31 and April 1 in the John McKay Centeer on the USC campus.

Click here to register online.

The comprehensive two-day clinic will feature presentations by Helton and his staff, as well as offensive and defensive staff roundtable discussions covering philosophy and scheme and in-depth position meetings led by each position coach.  USC strength and conditioning coach Ivan Lewis also will conduct a presentation on player development and the off-season/in-season training program.

Click here for more information.

There is an outstanding lineup of guest speakers, including Washington head coach Chris Petersen, Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen and Utah State head coach Matt Wells.

The clinic also includes attendance at the USC spring football practice on April 1 on Howard Jones Field, allowing attendees to see the presentations come to life.

The clinic is open to coaches of all levels, as well as fans who want to learn more about the USC football staff and its coaching philosophy.

Cost of the two-day clinic is $80 ($65 for a single day). The clinic offers a staff discount of $15 off per person for groups of five or more who pre-register together for both days.

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Rosy Disposition

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IMG_6331_1.JPGThis morning, USC football WR Steven Mitchell Jr. and LB Olajuwon "Boodah" Tucker handed out Valentine's Day roses to patients at the Los Angeles VA Hospital.

Mitchell and Tucker visited the hospital as part of USC's Trojan Outreach program. They were joined by VA Hospital volunteers, active duty personnel, Laker Girls and Tournament of Roses representatives as they met approximately 25 patients.

The Trojans thanked the veterans for their service while passing out roses and posters and posing for photos. The Leishman Trophy even made an appearance.

Follow Trojan Outreach on Twitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date!