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April 2010 Archives

TFAC golf tourney

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The 42nd annual Trojan Football Alumni Golf Classic is set for May 21 at the Industry Hills Golf Club.  Former USC players of recent and not-so-recent vintage show up for a day of golf and reminiscing.  Lane Kiffin will be on hand to greet the golfers and get the tourney started.

Proceeds from the event help fund USC football scholarships and a variety of year-long TFAC charitable and social events and programs.

Registration is available online.

Pac-10 Football Prospectus

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The annual Pac-10 Football prospectus has been published by the league office.  It takes a springtime look at all the conference teams.

Depth chart

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Here's a copy of the end-of-spring depth chart that Lane Kiffin released today. 
Click here for the 2010 depth chart.pdf



Kiffin quotes

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Here's a transcript of Lane Kiffin's end-of-spring press conference today, as well as a link to the archived video of the presser.  

Covering Saturday's scrimmage

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It all comes down to this.

Well, spring ball, that is.

The Trojans wrap up spring practices tomorrow in the Coliseum at noon for their annual intrasquad scrimmage. As we've done for the past three Saturday scrimmages, RipsIt will be live blogging the action for those who want to follow the action online.

Although the game starts at noon, we'll kick off the live blog at 11 to bring you all the pregame action leading up to the game.

In addition to the live blog, there will be some exclusive All-Access coverage for free on USCTrojans.com.  Fans can log on to the All-Access link on USCTrojans.com and enter promotion code USCSPRING2010 to receive a monthly subscription with the first month free.

It starts with a live 30-minute pre-game telecast from the field of the Coliseum beginning at 11:30 a.m., with live coach and guest interviews along with a look at the on-field activity leading up to the spring game.

Once the game kicks at noon, coverage for All-Access members will shift to an audio-only broadcast of the scrimmage.  Then once the game concludes, the video will come back on for a live 30-minute post-game show, with Kiffin and Trojan player wrap-up interviews.

Of course we'll have plenty of video, photos, stats and other tidbits to recap the day's events afterwards on this blog, so stay tuned and we hope to see you there!

Watch Kiffin presser live on Friday

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A reminder:  Fans can watch a free live streaming of Lane Kiffin's end-of-spring football media conference at noon on Friday on USCTrojans.com.  Kiffin will discuss how his Trojans progressed during spring drills and will unveil the depth chart.

Kiffin's thoughts on Thursday's practice

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Photos from Thursday's practice

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Jake Olson and his twin sister, Emma, stand with the four Marines from the Wounded Warrior Battalion who visited practice Thursday.


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Joe Houston practices an onside kick as special teams coach John Baxter observes.


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Allen Bradford jockeys for position as he elevates for a pass during seven-on-five drills.


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Brice Butler scoots between two defenders and leaps for a touchdown pass during full-squad red zone play.


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Dillon Baxter eyes the pylon as he breaks outside and attempts to evade the pursuit of Shareece Wright.

Lombardi watch list

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Trojans Jurrell Casey, Chris Galippo and Kristofer O'Dowd were named to the preliminary Watch List of the 2010 Rotary Lombardi Award. Click here to read more about the award and see the full list.

Thanks, Mike

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Mike Winze retired today after 31 years with the Los Angeles Police Department.  For the past 30 years, Mike worked USC football games at the Coliseum, usually guarding the Trojan locker room door.  In addition to providing excellent security for the Trojans, he probably 'high-fived' more USC players and coaches in those 30 years than anyone!

Best wishes on your retirement, Mike.

Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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USC held its penultimate spring practice, and the longest of the year so far, under sunny skies and amidst strong winds Thursday afternoon. Players went without pads for the third and final time of spring ball, and although there wasn't any tackling, the team also wasn't limited to no-contact drills. A few observations through the eyes of RipsIt...

- The day began with some less contact-intensive special teams drills. Wide receivers coach John Morton facilitated a drill in which players would block punts and then rush to recover the blocked ball. Meanwhile, special teams coach John Baxter worked with various players on hand placement and footwork as gunners on punt coverage.

- During the defensive line's standard regimen, D-line coach Ed Orgeron encouraged his players to excel in their fundamental work, as it would be the last spring practice to do so before Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage. "This should be a how-to film by now," Orgeron said to the linemen.

- Orgeron, defensive coach Monte Kiffin and secondary coach Willie Mack Garza spent time with the defensive unit as it took several reps against wildcat formations.

- Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain battled the windy conditions throughout the day, as strong, intermittent gusts would occasionally re-route the trajectory of their throws.

- After practice, head coach Lane Kiffin mentioned tight end Jordan Cameron and defensive end Armond Armstead as two of the most improved players in spring ball.

- Watching practice today were former USC players Vince Evans, Jeremy Hogue and Junior Thurman.  Also in attendance was loyal USC fan Jake Olson and his family.

- Four Marines from the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendleton were guests of the USC football team today.  They toured Heritage Hall, attended practice, visited with Mike Garrett, Lane Kiffin, Matt Barkley and other Trojans on the field and then finished their visit by joining the team for dinner at the training table in the Galen Dining Center.  The Wounded Warrior project helps Marines who were severely wounded during their service to our country.

- A number of national media members attended practice, including Andrea Kremer of HBO's Real Sports (she is doing a profile on Kiffin), a crew from FSN (doing a feature on the USC coaching staff) and Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com.

Some good reads

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As spring practice approaches its conclusion with the intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, ESPN Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller has compiled a couple stories from the team's development over the past few weeks.

Click here for Miller's thoughts on Matt Barkley's progress and the new coaching style of Lane Kiffin.

Saturday's Dual Meet to be streamed live

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A crucial battle for Crosstown Gauntlet points takes place on Saturday between the USC and UCLA track squads. In case you're unable to make the trek to Drake Stadium in Westwood, Calif. to watch the event in-person, we've got you covered.

Starting at 12:45, the meet will be streamed live online, thanks to Flotrack.org. Although the live stream will begin after the conclusion of the men's and women's hammer throw and women's javelin competitions, it will remain online until the conclusion of the competition at 5 p.m.

The Trojans currently hold a slim lead over the Bruins, 50-42.5. The first school to reach 57.5 points claims the trophy (and, of course, some bragging rights).

Here's the link to the live stream for you to revisit once the coverage starts at 12:45.

Finishing strong

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Just as today serves as the second-to-last day of classes before finals week for many students at USC, the football team has two more days of spring ball left, including a practice today that will take place without full pads. Despite running without the full gear, head coach Lane Kiffin still expects to maintain the same level of intensity as the team preps one last time for its final scrimmage in the Coliseum this Saturday.

It's still a bit early here at Heritage Hall for players to be filing in, but once things get rolling at 4 p.m., you can count on RipsIt being there to cover all the action.

Kiffin quips

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Here is Randy Youngman's report in the Orange County Register on this past Monday's Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic, complete with some remarks from Kiffin.

Lane Kiffin's 2010 USC Football Camps

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Six football camps for high school and elementary school players conducted by new USC head coach Lane Kiffin and his staff­ including Ed Orgeron and Monte Kiffin will be held in June on the USC campus.  To sign up or for more information, go to CampKiffin.com.

The Mario Danelo Kicking Academy, established in honor of the late USC record-setting kicker Mario Danelo, is for placekickers, punters and snappers who will be seventh graders to high school seniors as of the 2010 fall season. It will be held on June 11 and will be led by ex-NFL kicker Joe Danelo, Mario's father.

The USC Offensive and Defensive Line Camp, open to linemen who will be freshmen through seniors in high school during the 2010 fall season, is set for June 12.

The USC Skill Positions Camp, for quarterbacks/receivers/running backs/tight ends/linebackers/defensive backs who will be in freshmen through seniors in high school during the 2010 fall season, will be held on June 13.

The USC 7 On 7 Passing Camp, for high school teams aiming to develop offensive and defensive passing game skills, will run June 19 and 20. High school coaches should contact the USC Football Office at (213) 740-4204 to enroll their team.

The USC "Trojans In Training" Camp--available for players from third grade through eighth grade as of the 2010 fall season--will be held June 21.

The USC Rising Stars Camp, for high school juniors and seniors in the 2010 fall season who plan on playing at the collegiate level, is available for both overnight and day campers on June 23 and 24.
All camps will be conducted on Howard Jones/Brian Kennedy Fields, the on-campus practice fields for the USC football team.

All campers will receive a USC Football Camp t-shirt and a meal.

A "Football 101" Clinic, for parents and fans who want to learn the fundamentals of the game from Kiffin, his staff and other football personalities (it will be moderated by NFL Network's Lindsay Soto), will be held in Heritage Hall in the late afternoon on June 16.

Registration for these camps and clinic can be done on-line via CampKiffin.com or by calling (213) 740-4204 for a registration brochure.

There also will be a USC Flashback Fantasy Football Camp for adults from June 8 to 10, along with a Trojan Chalk Talk and Women's Trojan Huddle. For information, go to FlashbackCamps.com/usc.

Come for the football, stay for the band

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May 1st continues a long USC tradition: The Hardest Working Marching Band in the History of the Universe.

The Spirit of Troy and USC Song Girls will make their traditional appearance at the Spring Football game, and as per usual leave at halftime, only this year their day has only begun. The entire band will head over to the Galen Center to rehearse and then perform in "The Man on the Ladder" also known as Dr. Arthur C. Bartner's 40th Anniversary Gala.

As of now, tickets are still on sale for both fans and students. There are $40 and $75 seats still available for fans and student rush tickets are $10. The fesitivites begin at 8 pm.

So come experience a mantra which many a Trojan Football fan has lived by for the past 40 years thanks to Dr. Bartner:

"You come for the football team. You stay for the band." 

Photos from Tuesday's practice

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C.J. Gable evades the outstretched reach of a defender.


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Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron encourages DaJohn Harris during a hand and footspeed drill.


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Ronald Johnson awaits a short pass from Matt Barkley.


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Curtis McNeal turns upfield and looks to scoot around safety Marshall Jones.


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Robbie Boyer and Byron Moore, just moments prior to impact.

Kiffin's thoughts after Tuesday's practice

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Spring game tickets

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Trojan fans can get their first peek at the 2010 USC football team at this Saturday's USC Spring Football Game in the Coliseum.

Kickoff is at noon, with the gates opening at 11 a.m.

Tickets cost $10 (children 12 and under are free) and are available online at USCTrojans.com.

It's iTunes Tuesday

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New video features on Matt Barkley and Ed Orgeron with the D-line are available now on the Trojans iPhone app. Click here to purchase the app to get all your USC Athletics news and video on the go.

Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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A few players broke out the long sleeves for an overcast and brisk day of practice, which kicked off the final week of spring ball. To its credit, the sun decided to make a brief cameo at the end of practice. Better late than never, right?

A few noteworthy observations through the eyes of RipsIt...

- Abiding the theory of having the best three linebackers on the field, Chris Galippo, who played middle (or "Mike" as the players and coaches call it) linebacker last year, moved to outside linebacker for about 15-20 reps in various drills and full-squad play. "It felt really natural," Galippo said afterward. "I could just go out there and play."

- Practice began, as it has all spring, with a heavy dose of special teams work. The "Survivor" flag drill is now being used in conjunction with four-on-four punt return work. Fullback Hunter Simmons stole the survivor spotlight when he layed a vicious hit on an opposing kick returner, jarring the ball loose.

- Secondary coach Willie Mack Garza played the role of quarterback during drills with his players, as he lobbed passes into the air, working the defensive backs' ability to find and make a play on the ball. Shareece Wright would later put Garza's drill to use, as he picked off a deep pass during full-squad play.

- Still hampered by injury, Ronald Johnson spent most of his day fielding punts from Joe Houston and Jacob Harfman. After practice, head coach Lane Kiffin said that Johnson's wrist injury might not require surgery, however his elbow injury continues to keep him out of game action.

- Tight end Blake Ayles suffered another concussion that kept him out of practice.

- Houston and Harfman also spent an extended period of time practicing field goals beyond the 25-yard line, and connecting on a vast majority of them.

- Speedy tailback Curtis McNeal rattled off two long runs during full-squad play. In both runs, he cut to the outside, disappearing briefly behind pursuing defenders before re-emerging as he blazed down the far sideline.

- Since his move from defensive end to quarterback, James Boyd's reps have gradually increased. The redshirt freshman took a few snaps during 7-on-5 passing drills, and hit David Ausberry on a perfectly-thrown sideline fade route.

- Jurrell Casey made a DaJohn Harris-like strip of the quarterback during full-squad play. Casey continues to play a major role on a talented and deep defensive line.

- Quarterbacks Mitch Mustain and Matt Barkley both tried their hands at running the 2-minute drill to conclude practice, although the staunch defense prevented both from reaching the end zone.

- What kind of media is at a USC practice?  Today's media representation included the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Orange County Register, Daily Trojan, FSN, ESPN.com, WeAreSC.com, USCFootball.com, SCPlaybook.com and yours truly, USCRipsIt.  That group is pretty standard for any Trojan practice, but tonight's Lakers game at the nearby Staples Center cut back on the usual presence of some of the local television stations.

- Among the one-time USC football players who watched practice today were Jim Hardy, Shane Foley, Craig Gibson, Tim McDonald, Allan and Derek Graf, Brandon Hancock and Bill Cunnerty, as well as ex-Trojan basketballer Kyle Kazan and trackster Russell Silvers.  Recent Trojan NFL draftee Charles Brown also was in attendance.

- Washington president Mark Emmert was named the new president of the NCAA today.  It's nice that the leader of college athletics has a Pac-10 background.

Spring Game All-Access programming

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There will be some special online programming surrounding this Saturday's USC Spring Football Game ...and Trojans fans can enjoy this exclusive All-Access coverage for free on USCTrojans.com.

Fans can log on to the All-Access link on USCTrojans.com and enter promotion code USCSPRING2010 to receive a monthly subscription with the first month free.

First up is head coach Lane Kiffin's end-of-spring media conference on Friday at noon, streamed live from Heritage Hall on USCTrojans.com.  Kiffin will discuss his team's progress throughout spring practice and unveil the Trojan depth chart.

Then, on Saturday, there will be a live 30-minute pre-game telecast from the field of the Coliseum beginning at 11:30 a.m.  Reporter Katie Boggs will provide USCTrojans.com viewers with live coach and guest interviews prior to the scrimmage, as well as take in the on-field activity leading up to the spring game.

Once the game starts at noon, coverage for All-Access members will shift to an audio-only broadcast of the scrimmage, with Chris Fisher and Victor Holmes calling the action from the Coliseum press box.  Also during the scrimmage, the popular USCRipsIt blog on USCTrojans.com (with bloggers Ben Weiss and Stephanie Graves) will host a live online chat with fans and also provide a descriptive play-by-play of the game.

When the game concludes, the video will come back on for a live 30-minute post-game show, with Boggs interviewing Kiffin and Trojan players for a wrap-up of the day's play.

Trojan fans can use the All-Access promotion code until May 31, 2010, to receive a monthly subscription with the first month free.  Membership automatically renews at $9.95 monthly after the first month.

Mike McGee named to NACDA Hall of Fame

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Former USC athletic director Mike McGee (1984-93) has been named to the 2010 class of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Hall of Fame.  He will be inducted on June 23 at the NACDA Convention in Anaheim.

Don Ludwig honored

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Congratulations to Don Ludwig, USC executive director of Spirit and Traditions, and Spirituality and Sports.  At a luncheon today, President Steven Sample presented him with the 2010 President's Award for Staff Achievement for his outstanding contributions during his 36 years at the university.

For the first 34 of those years, Don worked in the Recreational Sports department. His original office was in Heritage Hall.  He is involved in many areas of Trojan athletics, including serving on the Game Management staff at sports events and with Swim With Mike. Here's an article that goes into a bit more detail about Ludwig's time and contributions as a Trojan.

The honor is well-deserved for one of USC's truly good guys.

Final week of practice

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Team meetings will be starting soon in advance of today's spring football practice.  This is the final week of spring drills for the Trojans, as they'll hit Howard Jones Field today and Thursday and then hold the annual spring football game at the Coliseum on Saturday.

RipsIt will be at practice today with a full report, so check it out.

Gauntlet race is tight

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This is a big week for the USC-UCLA rivalry and the Crosstown Gauntlet competition.

Currently, the Gauntlet (the all-sports competition between the intracity rivals) has USC barely in the lead, 45 to 42.5.  To clinch the trophy, 57.5 points are needed.

This week, 5 points are up for grabs in each of 4 different sports.  The 3-day Pac-10 men's golf championship started today and whichever team finishes higher wins those points.  On Saturday, the schools meet in women's rowing in the morning at the USC Boathouse, then that afternoon the men's and women's track teams square off in the annual dual meet at Drake Stadium.  USC fans, come out Saturday and support your Trojans!

All that's remaining on the regular-season schedule after that are 3 Trojan-Bruin baseball games in mid-May in Westwood.  (Of course, the schools also could meet in the post-season in a couple sports and those outcomes could have point ramifications, as well as tiebreaker consequences.)

So stay tuned, the 2009-2010 Crosstown Gauntlet race could come down to the wire.

USC has won the past two Gauntlets and 5 overall in the competition's 8-year history.

Draft impressions

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Even though Sunday provided a little bit of time to help us recover from the three-day marathon that was the 2010 NFL draft this past weekend, we're still feeling the buzz surrounding the Trojans who've found new homes in the pros.

Teams have been quick to express their excitement over the acquisition of their young talent. Here's a rundown of some good reads:

Taylor Mays (San Francisco 49ers)

  • Early expectations are comparing Mays to former Trojan and 49er Hall-of-Famer Ronnie Lott. Including Lott himself. 49ers coach Mike Singletary is also extremely "excited" about Mays' potential and is looking forward to utilizing the safety's "unbelievable" speed.

Charles Brown (New Orleans Saints)

  • Although he admitted that a phone call from the Saints came as a bit of a surprise, Brown is looking forward to helping New Orleans repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Damian Williams (Tennessee Titans)

  • Titans head coach and former Trojan Jeff Fisher was thrilled at the opportunity to snatch up Williams in the third round. He noted Williams' versatility as a wideout and kick returner could allow him to be a weapon on offense and special teams.
Kevin Thomas (Indianapolis Colts)


Everson Griffen (Minnesota Vikings)

  • In Minnesota, Griffen has the privilege of learning from one of the best defensive ends in the league, Jared Allen. The potential of having Allen and the freakishly-athletic Griffen on opposite sides of the Vikings' D-line is a scary-good combination.

Joe McKnight (New York Jets)

  • As the 112th overall pick, BleacherReport.com named McKnight one of the draft's 10 best value picks. There should be immediate chemistry between McKnight and Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, as the two helped the Trojans to an 11-win season, including the 2009 Rose Bowl victory. It looks like the Jets will use McKnight as a wide receiver as well as a tailback.

Anthony McCoy
(Seattle Seahawks)

  • McCoy was the only USC player reunited with his coach, Pete Carroll, via the draft, however he joined several other Trojans who signed with the Seahawks in free agency. Carroll and Seattle's general manager John Schneider both expressed their excitement for snatching up a player of McCoy's caliber late in the draft.

Stafon Johnson (Tennessee Titans - signed as free agent)

  • Although Johnson grew up in Los Angeles and stayed close to home by playing for USC, he's ready to show his new hometown of Nashville, Tenn., his skills at running back.

Nick Howell (Tennessee Titans - signed as free agent)

  • Although the team was known as the Houston Oilers when Howell's dad, Pat, played on the offensive line, Nick is hoping to follow in his father's footsteps.

Jeff Byers
, Josh Pinkard and Will Harris (Seattle Seahawks - signed as free agents)

  • Carroll's familiarity with the trio afforded them the opportunity to continue to work with their college coach.

Alex Parsons
(Oakland Raiders - signed as free agent)

  • The Raiders like Parsons' ability to contribute in the trenches anywhere on the field - on offense, defense or with the special teams unit.

Quiet Monday

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It's the final week of spring practice, but the USC football offices are nearly deserted today, save for receptionist Irene Puentes, executive assistant Joyce Hirayama and several student workers.  Everybody else is at Coto de Caza Golf Club for the Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic.

They'll all return tomorrow in preparation for on-campus practices on Tuesday and Thursday and then the USC Spring Football Game on Saturday at noon in the Coliseum.  Tickets are available online at USCTrojans.com.

Parsons, Howell free agents

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Media reports indicate that USC offensive linemen Alex Parsons (Oakland Raiders) and Nick Howell (Tennessee Titans) have joined NFL teams as free agents.

That means 13 Trojans (7 draftees and 6 free agents) so far are headed to the NFL in 2010.

Seattle USChawks

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The Seattle Seahawks have become a landing spot for USC football players and staff.

There are 10 Trojans on the current Seahawks active roster:  Jeff Byers, Will Harris, Lawrence Jackson, Tom Malone, Anthony McCoy, Josh Pinkard, Ryan Powdrell, LofaTatupu, LenDale White and Mike Williams.  Kyle Williams is on the practice squad.

Plus, new head coach Pete Carroll and a number of his Seahawks' staffers have recent USC ties, including Jeremy Bates, Ken Norton, Kris Richard, Rocky Seto, Brian Schnieder, Chris Carlisle, Jamie Yanchar, Matt Capurro and Ben Malcolmson.  Long-time Seahawks director of community outreach Sandy Gregory worked in Heritage Hall in the 1970s.

Photos from Saturday's practice

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2010 NFL Draft recap

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Once again, USC had a strong presence in this year's draft, tying three other schools for the second most players selected from a single program with seven.

Here's how the seven USC standouts fared:

  • S Taylor Mays selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the 17th pick in the second round (49th overall)
  • OT Charles Brown selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 32nd pick in the second round (64th overall)
  • WR Damian Williams selected by the Tennessee Titans with the 13th pick in the third round (77th overall)
  • CB Kevin Thomas selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 30th pick in the third round (94th overall)
  • DE Everson Griffen selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the second pick in the fourth round (100th overall)
  • RB Joe McKnight selected by the New York Jets with the 14th pick in the fourth round (112th overall)
  • TE Anthony McCoy selected by the Seattle Seahawks with the 16th pick in the sixth round (185th overall)

More free agent news

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Word has it that Will Harris, Jeff Byers and Josh Pinkard will sign with the Seattle Seahawks as free agents. If the signings become finalized, the three would reunite with their college coach, Pete Carroll.

Recap of Saturday's scrimmage

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Click here to read the USCTrojans.com story covering the action from today's scrimmage.

More from Howard Jones Field

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- Scoring was harder to come by in today's scrimmage as the defense had a solid all-around effort. In addition to the intense pressure from the defensive line and linebackers up front, the secondary succeeded in limiting deep throws. The "D" limited both offensive units to four combined touchdowns - the lowest number in the first three scrimmages.

- Keeping busy on the defensive side was Devon Kennard, who collected eight tackles, including a three-yard sack. Jurrell Casey also brought pressure with five tackles and a six-yard sack. Torin Harris led the secondary with two of the seven total deflections.

- The offense did muster a few highlights, with tailback Allen Bradford leading the way. The senior rushed for 89 yards on 10 carries (8.9 average) and two touchdowns, with 39- and 35-yard scores.

- The quarterbacks continued to spread the ball around, something that should benefit the team in the long run with veteran wideout Ronald Johnson sidelined with a wrist injury. David Ausberry led the Trojan receiving corps with 4 catches for a team-high 77 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown grab.

- The signal callers combined to throw for 240 yards on 42 total attempts. Mustain finished 12 for 20 with 167 yards and 2 touchdowns in his most impressive outing of the spring and Matt Barkley was 11 for 20 with 73 yards.

- Johnson did participate in warm-up drills, catching a few passes as the offense ran through plays, and later fielding punts. Kiffin said after practice that Johnson may undergo wrist surgery soon.

- Although the team warmed up with several special teams drills, no special teams play took place during the scrimmage. After the day's action concluded, all quarterbacks stayed after for a few minutes to practice their placekick holding duties.

- Other players sidelined with injuries were Brandon Carswell, De'Von Flournoy, Zack Heberer, Allen Noble, Butch Lewis, D.J. Shoemate, Marshall Jones, Brian Baucham and Drew McAllister.

- FSN Pac-10 football analyst and former USC football player Petros Papadakis stopped by to watch practice.

Stafon Johnson status update

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Although the draft ended just a few minutes ago without the selection of Stafon Johnson, it didn't take long for the former USC tailback to find a home.

Johnson just tweeted that he has joined the Tennessee Titans as a free agent. He joins teammate Damian Williams, who was taken by the Titans in the third round yesterday. Hopefully Johnson can help fill the void left by former Trojan LenDale White, who was traded by Tennessee to Seattle earlier today.

Click here to see Johnson's twitter feed.

Stats from Saturday's scrimmage

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Kiffins post-scrimmage thoughts

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Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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On a sunny, 70-degree day, the USC football team completed its third intrasquad scrimmage of the spring. A few noteworthy observations through the eyes of RipsIt...

- Head coach Lane Kiffin called for an improvement in the run game after last weekend's scrimmage and just before the start of today's game. Tailback Allen Bradford responded early with two touchdown runs of 30-plus yards.

- David Ausberry had several targets as he moved back to the wide receiver position with Ronald Johnson's injury creating a shortage in the depth chart. He managed to bring in a nice touchdown pass from Mitch Mustain in the first half of the scrimmage to highlight his busy day.

- Neither quarterback turned the ball over and Mitch Mustain threw for two touchdowns as he bounced back from his scoreless scrimmage last weekend.

- The defensive line continued to impress by pressuring the quarterbacks and contributing several tackles for loss.

Check back soon for photos, video, Kiffin's thoughts, more observations, and a full recap. 

McCoy to the Seahawks

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Tight end Anthony McCoy, just minutes ago, was selected by the Seattle Seahawks with the 16th pick of the sixth round (185th overall).

McCoy becomes the first USC player of this year's draft to be selected by former USC head coach Pete Carroll. The tight end's combination of size, speed and excellent hands (see last year's Notre Dame game) make him an excellent NFL prospect.

Kiffin pre-Saturday scrimmage remarks

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Scroll down for today's live blog!

Live from Howard Jones Field

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We're rockin' and rollin' from the baseball offices that overlook Howard Jones Field, where players have begun to file in for Saturday's scrimmage. There are a few clouds intermittently blocking the sun, but hey, we're not complaining - Trojan football is here to brighten up our day.

Join us, won't you?


White and Carroll reunite

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Former USC tailback LenDale White will be returning to the west coast to join former Trojan head coach Pete Carroll with the Seattle Seahawks. White was traded to the team earlier today for fourth and sixth round picks.

This is White's second NFL team, after being drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2006 and spending his first three years in the league there.

The tandem enjoyed two national championships during their shared time at USC. And a little extracurricular fun. Good luck to White in his new northwest home!

McKnight a Jet

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Tailback Joe McKnight is headed to the Big Apple.  The New York Jets selected him in the fourth round (112th pick overall).

He'll be reunited with former Trojan quarterback Mark Sanchez.  Chauncey Washington, another one-time USC tailback, is also on the Jets roster.  Two ex-USC star defensive backs--Mark Carrier and Dennis Thurman--are on the Jets coaching staff.

McKnight, who declared for the NFL draft as a junior, becomes the sixth Trojan to be selected this year.  He joins Taylor Mays (49ers), Charles Brown (Saints), Damian Williams (Titans), Kevin Thomas (Colts) and Everson Griffen (Vikings).

USC is creeping up on Notre Dame for the school with the most all-time NFL draftees.  USC now has 463 picks in its history, one behind the leader Irish's 464.  Stay tuned;  there are still three-and-a-half rounds to go and lots of Trojans still available.

Griffen picked early on Day Three

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The third--and final--day of the 2010 NFL Draft is under way early today, with rounds 4 through 7.

Everson Griffen's long wait ended quickly this morning when he was selected as the second pick of the fourth round (100th overall selection) by the Minnesota Vikings.

The defensive end, who declared for the NFL after his 2009 junior season, will join Vikings practice squad player Drew Radovich as Trojan alums on the Minnesota roster.

He's headed to Minneapolis, destination of USC's second road game of 2010.  The Trojans play the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Sept. 18.

So, that's 5 Trojan NFL draftees so far this year.  Griffen joins Taylor Mays (49ers), Charles Brown (Saints), Damian Williams (Titans) and Kevin Thomas (Colts) as USC's newest NFLers.

NFL Draft's Day Two in the books

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Day Two of the three-day 2010 NFL Draft has wrapped up.

Four Trojans were selected today:  Taylor Mays (San Francisco 49ers) and Charles Brown (New Orleans Saints) went in the second round, followed by Damian Williams (Tennessee Titans) and Kevin Thomas (Indianapolis Colts) in the third round.

That makes it 461 Trojan NFL draftees in history, second only--and closing--to Notre Dame's 464.

The final day of the draft begins tomorrow (Saturday) at 7 a.m. with rounds 4 through 7, televised live by NFL Network and ESPN.

And there are still Trojans left on the board, including the likes of Everson Griffen, Jeff Byers, Joe McKnight, Will Harris, Anthony McCoy and Stafon Johnson.

Kevin Thomas to the Colts

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A fourth Trojan--cornerback Kevin Thomas--has been selected today in the NFL Draft.  Thomas was a third round pick (94th overall) by the Indianapolis Colts, the 2010 Super Bowl runnerup.

Thomas will join former USC teammate Fili Moala on the Colts' roster.

The other Trojans selected so far in this draft were Taylor Mays (49ers) and Charles Brown (Saints) in the second round and Damian Williams (Titans) in the third round.

Mays highest Trojan safety pick since Polamalu

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Taylor Mays was drafted higher (second round, 49th overall selection) than any USC safety since Troy Polamalu was the 16th pick of the 2003 NFL Draft's first round.

Williams goes to Titans

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Wide receiver Damian Williams just was selected by the Tennessee Titans as the 13th pick of the NFL Draft's third round (73rd selection overall).

He'll be coached by one-time Trojan player Jeff Fisher and he'll be a teammate of ex-USC tailback LenDale White.  Also on the Titans' coaching staff are former staffers Kennedy Pola and Richie Wessman.

That's three Trojans who have been drafted so far (Taylor Mays to the San Francisco 49ers and Charles Brown to the New Orleans Saints, both in the second round).

Brown chosen by Saints

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The NFL Draft's second round just concluded with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints selecting USC offensive tackle Charles Brown.  He was the 64th overall pick.

He'll join former Trojan stars Reggie Bush and Sedrick Ellis on the Saints roster.

Brown and safety Taylor Mays (second round by the San Francisco 49ers) are now off the USC board as the draft enters Round 3.

Mays to San Francisco

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Moments ago, Taylor Mays became first Trojan selected in the 2010 draft, as he was taken by the San Francisco 49ers with the 17th pick in the second round (49th overall).

Mays joins former USC offensive lineman Chilo Rachal with the 49ers. He'll also face his former coach, Pete Carroll, twice a year, as San Francisco and Seattle are both members of the NFC West division.

We wish Taylor the best of luck with his new team and look forward to watching him perform on Sundays!

Your live blog fix, coming this Saturday

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Huzzah! The live blog of USC's Saturday scrimmage returns for another afternoon of (hopefully) sun and (definitely) pigskin. Saturday marks the penultimate spring intrasquad scrimmage for the Trojans, and precedes the final game, which will be played a week later at the Coliseum and is open to the public. By the way, you can buy your tickets to the noon May 1 Coliseum scrimmage here.

If you've joined RipsIt the past two weekends for the coverage, well, you know the drill. Visit the blog around 11 a.m. on Saturday to hear RipsIt and live blog regular Stephanie Graves dish out the details on the action. As always, feel free to send us your questions and chat with the other Trojan fans.

After the scrimmage, look for the standard regimen of recaps, photos and stats to provide further details from the practice.

Friday picture day

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While the coaches spent much of Friday in meetings preparing for Saturday's practice and scrimmage, they did take some time during the lunch hour to pose for a coat-and-tie head shot that will be used in publications and other media outlets.

The USC sports information office has a supply of various-sized white dress shirts and cardinal-colored jackets, along with pre-knotted cardinal ties, that the coaches can quickly slip on for their snapshots.  All told, the process takes about a minute or two.

Next week, headshots will be taken of USC's new players, along with any returning players who want an updated portrait because their "look" has changed.

The biggest challenge for longtime USC photographer Dan Avila:  getting the coaches and players to smile.

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USC hockey's Wilbur retires

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Bet you didn't know that USC has a men's ice hockey team...and a good one at that.

In fact, Troy's ice hockey tradition is quite strong.  From the mid-1920s to the early 1940s, USC fielded one of the premier ice hockey teams in the country.  Trojan football players dotted some of those rosters, including All-American Morley Drury.

Men's ice hockey is now a club sport at USC, under the aegis of the Recreational Sports department.  It is one of the most successful club hockey programs around, mainly because of the exceptional guidance provided the last 17 years by head coach Mark Wilbur.

Wilbur announced today that he is stepping down as the program's coach and will now serve as its general manager.

Under Wilbur, USC posted a 322-155 record, including a 63-21 mark against UCLA, and won eight PAC 8 Hockey Conference championships (including this year's title).  He is the winningest coach in the history of the Pac 8, the main hockey conference on the West Coast (he helped found the league).  His teams advanced to the Pac 8 finals 11 times.

He said he will now focus his attention on some projects for the team "that I have wanted to get done for years.  We have many opportunities in front of us that I simply cannot get accomplished while trying to coach full time as well...This is not an end of a great run of championships, but more of a refresh and a beginning of another great run."

USC hockey annually plays a schedule against local, national and international teams.  The Trojans have competed throughout the world, and in 2002 became the first American collegiate hockey team to play in China.

Congratulations, Mark, on a job well done!  And best of luck in your future.

Listen to the volleyball match

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All-Access members can listen to a live webcast of USC's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation quarterfinal match at Cal State Northridge on Saturday at 7 p.m. on USCTrojans.com.

Former Trojan player and assistant coach Mark Beltran will be mikeside.

New Project Trojan

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The latest installment of "Project Trojan" is now online at USCTrojans.com and available to All-Access members.  This episode details USC's Pro Day experience, as the Trojans' NFL hopefuls ran through drills in front of dozens of pro scouts.  It's especially timely with the NFL Draft currently in progress.

Members can click here to view.

New goal line drill

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The USC coaching staff introduced a new goal line drill at practice this past Tuesday and it was enthusiastically received by the players.  With music blaring and players from the offense and defense yelling nearby, the ball was placed at the 2-yard line.  As was documented in this practice Dispatch, the offense scored 4 times and the defense stopped them 4 times...before the coaches decided to run 5 more plays, in which the defense was victorious 4 times.

Here's a look at one of those big defensive stops.  To say that the Trojan defensive players got a little excited with the result is an understatement.  Enjoy the coaches video, from sideline and end zone angles.

 

No Trojan first rounders

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For only the second time since the 2003 NFL Draft, no USC player was selected in the first round today (the other time was 2007).

 

So those draft-eligible Trojans will have to wait at least another 19 hours--and likely endure a semi-sleepless night tossing and turning--to learn their pro football fate.

 

A reminder:  the draft's second and third rounds begin on Friday at 3 p.m., while rounds 4 through 7 are on Saturday at 7 a.m.  NFL Network and ESPN will supply the coverage.

 

But don't fret.  There's a good chance that the names of USC players will be called often the rest of the way.

Advocating for a former teammate

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With plenty of USC players still on the draft board when selections continue with the second rount tomorrow, a former Trojan (and second-round pick) is imploring his NFL team to draft a familiar face. Take a look:

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Already home to former Trojans Carson Palmer, Keith Rivers and Frostee Rucker, the Cincinnati Bengals do seem to like USC products. Rey Maualuga (and the rest of the nation) will have to wait until 3 p.m. PST tomorrow to see where his former comrades land.

Kiffin's thoughts on Thursday's practice

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Photos from Thursday's practice

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C.J. Gable evades a would-be tackler during a kick return drill.


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Incoming USC president Max Nikias (left) chats with Mike Garrett on the west sideline of Howard Jones Field.


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David Ausberry climbs the ladder to snare a pass.


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Linebacker coach Joe Barry watches as Ausberry stiff arms Omari Crittenden and breaks to the outside in the red zone.

Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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Murphy's Law was in full effect, at least for the weather at today's practice. Cloudy skies gave way to sunshine, which warmed the spectators at Howard Jones Field. Not needing any additional heat were the fired-up players on the field. A few observations through the eyes of RipsIt...

- Practice began again with special teams drills, incorporating a new kick return exercise where blockers went one-on-one while returners caught jugged balls and attempted to scoot past their oncoming defenders.

- Next, the team broke into position drills and spent a solid hour working on fundamentals.

- During seven-on-seven passing drills, Ryan McMahon intercepted a tipped sideline pass and ran it back for a touchdown. On the next play, Byron Moore nabbed another tipped pass in the back of the end zone.

- Head coach Lane Kiffin said that wide receiver Ronald Johnson likely will miss the rest of spring practice because of an elbow injury.  He also said that Johnson probably will have minor surgery on his wrist.  "It's a surgery similar to what Matt Barkley had," said Kiffin.  "He won't be out long."  Kiffin also noted that Johnson's absence the rest of spring shouldn't have much of an effect on him because "he's been the star of spring."

- With a shortage of wide receivers (Johnson, Kyle Prater and De'Von Flournoy), David Ausberry moved back out to his familiar position without losing a step (he has been working mainly as a hybrid tight end this spring). He made several nice catches (some as a wideout and some as a tight end), including a sideline over-the-shoulder grab and a sliding catch over the middle, showing his versatility as a big target.

- Brice Butler had a busy day, making several big plays during drills and continuing his electric play in the full squad action.

- There were only 6 offensive linemen at practice (Matt Kalil was nursing an injury), so those remaining on an already-thin line got lots of repetitions.  "It's only going to pay off for them," said Kiffin.  "I can't imagine any line in the country whose players are working harder and getting more repetitions."

- One of Kiffin's star players last year at Tennessee, safety Eric Berry, was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs as the fifth pick in the NFL Draft.  "That's the right spot for him," said Kiffin.  "He'll be a great player in the league for a long time and he'll represent with class." Later in the first round, Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams was selected 26th overall by the Arizona Cardinals.

- Max Nikias, who recently was named as the successor of USC President Steven Sample, watched practice along with USC athletic director Mike Garrett and Ed Roski, the chairman of USC's Board of Trustees.

- Weber State head coach Ron McBride observed practice.  He is the father-in-law of USC associate head coach/special teams coordinator John Baxter.

- Among the former Trojan players who were present at today's practice:  Don Gibson, Matt Gee, Brandon Hancock, Mike Salmon, Rigo Diaz, Alex Holmes, Alex Bottom, Bernard Riley and Allan and Derek Graf.

Check back later for a few photos from today's practice.

Volley time

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The No. 6-ranked USC men's volleyball team, the defending Mountain Pacific Sports Federation champion, travels to No. 3 Cal State Northridge for an MPSF tourney quarterfinal match this Saturday (April 24) at 7 p.m.

 

Tickets are on sale at the CSUN Ticket Office by calling 818-677-2488.  They are $10 for adults and $5 for USC students.  It's anticipated that tickets will sell quickly, so call now.

 

The Trojans are hot, having won 6 of their last 7 matches, and are hoping to get on a run similar to last year's that propelled them to the NCAA Championship final.

 

This is where it all began last year and the Trojan volleyballers once again need your support.  So come on out to Northridge on Saturday night and cheer them on.

Ready for the rain

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Ominous rain clouds are draped above USC's campus, but fear not RipsIt readers! Our trusty rain coat trash bag will keep us dry and the coverage - like the impending rain - a-flowin'.

The conclusion of spring practice is fast-approaching, with only five more sessions, including today's and the May 1 scrimmage in the Coliseum. We'll be back after today's action wraps up to bring you the highlights and provide details on how the team continues to progress as it prepares for next season.

Also, if you're following the NFL draft, we'll be tweeting updates on any USC player news, should it take place while we're out at Howard Jones Field. Follow us here.

Take me out to the ballgame

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Attention Trojan fans: The Dodgers are giving all Trojans and USC alumni a cool opportunity to show off their school pride and represent USC at Chavez Ravine.

On Thursday, April 29, it's USC Night and the first 20,000 fans in attendance will receive a cardinal & gold hat with the Dodgers' LA logo on it. In addition, fans that sit in My Town will enjoy an all-inclusive menu and receive a limited edition Dodgertown, USC t-shirt. Throughout the game, there will be Trojan-themed entertainment, including the singing of God Bless America and the National Anthem by SoCal Vocals, USC's acapella group.

Last year, the stadium was filled with Trojan fans and if you're interested in coming out next week, visit dodgers.com/mytown or call 866.DODGERS. Oh, and by the way, the Bruins will be out in full force the following night, April 30 trying to one-up SC.

USC's NFL history

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For more information on USC players in the NFL, including a complete list of every Trojan drafted, look through these pages of the USC football media guide.

Draftoids

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The 75th NFL Draft will be a three-day affair this year conducted out of Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  It will be aired live on NFL Network and ESPN.

 

The first round will be held in prime time tonight (Thursday), starting at 4:30 p.m. PT.  The second and third rounds will be on Friday at 3 p.m., while rounds 4 through 7 are on Saturday at 7 a.m.

 

*  *  *

 

Fourteen Trojans have a reasonable chance to get drafted this year:

 

Charles Brown

Jeff Byers

Everson Griffen

Will Harris

Nick Howell

Stafon Johnson

Taylor Mays

Anthony Mccoy

Joe Mcknight

Alex Parsons

Josh Pinkard

Averell Spicer

Kevin Thomas

Damian Williams

 

And if they don't get picked, then they and the other 2009 Trojan seniors listed below are eligible to be signed as free agents:

 

Luthur Brown

Jordan Congdon

Robert Erickson

Nick Garratt

Adam Goodman

Garrett Green

Thomas Herring


*  *  *

 

Some USC draft facts:

 

- In its history, USC has had 457 players drafted by the NFL.  That's second only to Notre Dame's 462.

 

- USC has had more first round NFL draft picks (74) than any other school.  Ohio State is second with 68.

 

- USC is tied with Notre Dame for most players selected as the top pick of the NFL Draft (5).  Troy is the only school to have the No. 1 pick for 2 consecutive years (Ron Yary in 1968 and O.J. Simpson in 1969).

 

- Last year, a national-best 11 USC players were drafted.  That was the second year in a row--and third time in 4 years--that USC had more players drafted than any other school.  It was also the third time in those 4 years that USC had at least 10 players drafted.

 

*  *  *

 

Here's what a couple NFL draft experts said last year about selecting USC players:

 

- ESPN's Herm Edwards, the former NFL head coach:  "If you want to play pro football and you're a young high school athlete, you know going to USC is going to give you the best opportunity system-wise and competitive-wise on the field.  That's what USC brings to the table.  That's why historically, year after year, you see all these players coming into the league."

 

 - ESPN's Ron Jaworski, the ex-NFL quarterback:  "It's competition.  It's fierce competition every day you go out on the USC practice field.  Not only on Saturday when they play the game.  Every day they're competing at the highest level."

 

 

It's practice day

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The offensive and defensive coaches are locked in their respective meeting rooms preparing for this afternoon's practice, the 11th of the 15 allowable sessions during the spring.

Practice begins at 4 p.m. today and likely will last two-and-a-half hours.  The unseasonably dank weather remains in the Southern California area, with a period of brief showers possible by 6 p.m. (Saturday's late morning practice is expected to be conducted under more normal conditions, as a sunny day in the low-70s is predicted.)

Soon after today's practice starts, the first round of the NFL Draft will begin in New York City.  USC's coaches and players will be eagerly waiting for news about the Trojan draftees.

Kiffin golf tourney video

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The Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic is this Monday (April 26) at Coto de Caza Golf Club...and it's not too late to sign up.

Watch this brief promotional video or call 213-740-4155 for more information and how to register.


A busy off-day

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There's no spring football practice today at USC, so you might expect the football office to be quiet.

But there is actually a lot of activity going on.  Players are popping in to talk to the coaches, take care of administrative items or watch some video.  As for the coaches, they are mostly spending time in the staff meeting room on the north wing of Heritage Hall's second floor working on several things:

- They are preparing for tomorrow's 4 p.m. practice.

- They are polishing up on their upcoming recruiting work.

- And they are spending time discussing this week's NFL Draft, which begins with Thursday's first round.  In fact, the coaches are holding their own "mock" draft of USC's players, trying to predict when and where Taylor Mays, Damian Williams, Everson Griffen, Charles Brown, Joe McKnight and company will be selected.

It's all football, all the time with these coaches.

The Spirit of Troy selects new drum major

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By: Stephanie Graves


It is no secret that the lives and practices of the Trojan Marching Band often parallel that of the USC football team, this afternoon being no exception. Today, the Spirit of Troy's annual spring competition took place, but unlike the team who is trying to fill 22 starting positions, the band only had to fill one:


The USC Drum Major.

 

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Often referred to as "Tommy Trojan" due to the tunic and armor he dons on game day, the Drum Major is the highest ranking student leader in the band and is often looked as the embodiment of "The Spirit of Troy" itself.  It takes an entire semester of training before one can even be prepared to audition. Subsequently, the entire summer is devoted to preparing for the newly selected leader's Fall Debut.


Last Year, Kenny Morris stepped in the leather sandals of this Trojan Warrior and has spent the past year carrying the very much iconic sword.


"You don't really think about it until you get to this point," reflects Morris. "But it was one of the greatest experiences of my entire life."


Today he passed that experience, and the sword, on to 21-year-old Tim Larson. The junior neuroscience major from Albuquerque, New Mexico tried out last year only to tie twice with Morris. The final tie breaker commenced during the 2009 Trojan Huddle where each candidate had an opportunity to lead the band in a mock game day situation. Though it was Morris that emerged victorious, the then sophomore Larson left enough of an impression in everyone's minds that it was clear he already had a head start for next year's campaign.


And so the second chapter of the journey began.


"Being so close last year drove me to work even harder," recalls Larson. "I was constantly practicing and going over the things I needed to go over. If I wasn't practicing, I was thinking about it. I really pushed myself as hard as I could to go for it."


Now with two years of constant dedication finally over, the dream that was born his very first day of band camp as a freshman is a reality.


Upon returning for his final year with the Trojan Marching Band, the newly crowned Drum Major is looking forward to bringing his relentless spirit and enthusiasm to the rest of the self proclaimed Greatest Marching Band in the History of the Universe.


"I can't wait to instill that feeling in other people," says Larson.


Tim Larson is not only a student and veteran trumpet player, but a dancer and athlete as well. He spent his first two years at USC as a hurdler on track team and recently joined the Break on 2 Latin Fusion Dance team. We are sure he will use his versatility to relate to, inspire and lead his fellow bandsmen.


All 325 of them.

Behind enemy lines

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Here's an oxymoron of a photo.

More from Howard Jones Field

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- Defensive end-turned-quarterback James Boyd took his first (few) snaps from quarterback in live action as a Trojan.  While his enormous upside was evident, head coach Lane Kiffin noted it was also clear that he is still learning the position after making the switch a week ago.

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Wide receivers Ronald Johnson (elbow) and Kyle Prater (sore back) participated only in the individual drills portion of practice.  Kiffin said they are day-to-day.

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After last Saturday's scrimmage, Kiffin voiced his displeasure with the running game.  Asked today if that feeling still held up after he watched video of the scrimmage, he said:  "We weren't consistent up front.  We weren't consistent with the backs.  And the receivers didn't block well.  That all has been addressed.  It was good to have that happen now."

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Former Trojan players Chris Hale, Tim McDonald and Allan Graf observed practice, as did a group from the San Gabriel Valley Trojan Club.

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As the Trojans left the field around 7 p.m. and headed to the warmth of the lockerroom, the USC baseball team was beginning its game against UC Santa Barbara on adjoining Dedeaux Field.  Brrrrrrrrr!

Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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Well, the rain stopped by the time the Trojans hit the field for practice No. 10 of 2010 spring drills.  The ground was damp, not muddy, and the sun came out for the second half of the practice session.  But a stiff wind kept the weather uncharacteristically brisk.  However, that had no effect on what turned out to be a very good and productive two-and-a-half hours of practice.  (That blustery weather also didn't curtail diving practice at the adjacent McDonald's Swim Stadium, although the divers were shielded from the cold by much less clothing that the football players.)

 

- In his post-practice huddle with the media, head coach Lane Kiffin said:  "The guys came out with a lot of energy.  They responded well.  They focused today."

 

- As has been the pattern throughout spring ball, the Trojans spent a significant portion of the early part of practice working on special teams play and then an extended amount of time on offensive and defensive fundamentals.

 

- During the 11-on-11 team run drills on Brian Kennedy Field, the top run was a 30-yard scoring sweep around the left end by tailback Allen Bradford, while there were also a pair of long play action scoring passes to wide receivers Brandon Carswell (on a streak from quarterback Mitch Mustain) and Brice Butler (on a slant from quarterback Matt Barkley).  Then, during the subsequent team passing period, the highlight completion was Mustain's aerial to fullback Stanley Havili.

 

- The wideouts showed up well in the full team period that usually ends each practice, with Carswell, Butler and Travon Patterson making nice grabs.  There were two fumbles during the 35-minute period.  On the first one, offensive tackle Tyron Smith came out of the scrum with the ball.  The next one occurred near the goal line after a long Bradford run when cornerback Daniel Harper came from behind to punch the ball out, but it took a basketball hop right back up into Bradford's grasp for a touchdown.

 

- The coaches introduced a new drill to conclude today's practice, a goal line drill from the 2-yard line, complete with blaring music.  "It was our first shot at short yardage and goal line, so we tried to create an energetic environment," said Kiffin.  "We wanted to make it like a game, to make it realistic.  We had no penalties during the drill.  I was pleased that our players were able to maintain their focus in a highly energetic environment...The guys played hard.  There were some good plays on offense and good plays on defense."  The drill appeared to finish as a stalemate, with the offense scoring 4 times (on 3 Bradford runs and a catch by tight end Blake Ayles of a Mustain pass that was deflected at the line by defensive end Malik Jackson) and the defense stopping them 4 times.  But after the horn sounded signifying the end of practice, the players called for more.  So they ran 5 more plays from the 2-yard line and this time the defensive shut down all but once (only a Bradford sweep where he bowled over linebacker Malcolm Smith at the goal line was successful).

 

- Barkley spent more time during and after practice working as a holder for the placekickers.

 

- Defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo participated throughout practice (he had been slowed while recovering from last year's ankle injury), leading Kiffin to remark that having him back "adds to the competition on the defensive line.  We now have eight guys there we're excited about."

 

- What do the injured players do during practice?  Well, they spend the entire session off on a side field rehabbing and conditioning with trainers and strength coaches.  From the looks of it, they work as hard as their healthy teammates.  Today, this group included Martin Coleman, Torin Harris, Butch Lewis, De'Von Flournoy, Allen Noble, Spencer Spiegel, Rhett Ellison and Brian Baucham.

 

Kiffin cam

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Here's head coach Lane Kiffin and his thoughts on Tuesday's practice.

 

It's wet outside

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Well, the rain--actually, light showers--has arrived earlier than the weather reports had indicated, but today's USC spring football practice is still a go.

Hey, it's a great opportunity to work on the wet ball drill.

It's iTunes Tuesday

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There are two new segments loaded up today. Fans can watch the actual shows on the links below or download the iPhone application here to watch them on the go.

Project Trojan 2010 Spring Football Edition


Playmakers: Kris O'Dowd

Spirit of Troy at Coachella

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You never know where the Trojan Marching Band will show up.  Besides its gigs at USC sporting events, "The Spirit of Troy" has played for Presidents, appeared on the Oscars and Grammys, performed at Olympics, Super Bowls, World Series and World Cups, been part of major global expositions and parades and even appeared in Hollywood movies and played on several platinum rock albums.

This past weekend at the world-famous Coachella Music Festival in Indio, the TMB added to its impressive resume by performing "Welcome Home" on-stage with acclaimed New York rock band Coheed and Cambria.

Go to the 2:45 mark of this video to see the Trojan Marching Band rock the crowd.

Another day of practice

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The coaching staff is behind closed doors in the football office right now preparing for this afternoon's practice in the penultimate week of 2010 spring drills.

The sun is peeking through some scattered clouds right now, but the weather report is calling for a chance for showers (a rarity in Los Angeles) later today.  The Trojans are likely to squeeze in today's two-and-a-half hour practice before the predicted moisture starts falling.

RipsIt will be out at practice--rain or shine--to give you a full report of the proceedings, so stayed tuned here.

USC Athletics iPhone app clarification

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The app works for the iPhone as well as the iPod Touch. As of now, these are the only platforms for which the app is available.

Dual Meet Hall of Famers

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Four Trojan track greats will be inducted into the USC/UCLA Dual Meet Hall of Fame next Tuesday (April 27) at 11 a.m. in a ceremony at UCLA's J.D. Morgan Center in conjunction with a press conference promoting the May 1 USC-UCLA dual meet in Westwood.

The 2010 Trojan inductees:  hurdler Earl McCullough, distance runner Louie Zamperini, mid-distance runner Leslie Noll and sprinter Bryan Krill.  McCullough, you'll remember, also was a star receiver for the Trojans and in the NFL.

Each inductee turned in a stellar performance in the fabled crosstown dual meet.

UCLA's inductees this year are pole vaulters Mike Tully and Chelsea Johnson, hurdler Joanna Hayes, quartermiler Steve Lewis and shot putter Dave Laut.

Trojans inducted into last year's inaugural class were pole vaulter Bob Seagren, hurdlers Virginia Powell and Natasha Danvers and sprinters Willie Deckard and James Sanford.

USC athletics straight to your iPhone

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To purchase the app, click here.

Mud

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Last month's popular ARTLETICS exhibit in the Galen Center once again displayed the artistic talents of many Trojan student-athletes.

Three of those former student-athletes who are still in school and majoring in art--swimmers Dina Hegazy and Tanner Trowbridge and track athlete Katalin Mate--currently have work on exhibit in a show, "They Call Me Mud," in USC's Watt Hall Lindhurst Gallery. The undergraduate exhibition, which features work from 18 advanced ceramics students, runs through this Thursday (April 22).

USC Roski School of Fine Arts faculty member and ceramics department head Karen Koblitz coordinated the exhibit, as she did for ARTLETICS.  For more information, click here.

Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic next Monday

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In one week, head coach Lane Kiffin and the rest of the coaching staff will host the Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic at the Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club.

If you're looking for a great excuse to hit the greens instead of work, click here or call 213-740-4155 for more information and how to register.

The event, which includes dinner and live and silent auctions, raises money for the USC football program.

Hitting the road

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Football head coach Lane Kiffin and men's basketball head coach Kevin O'Neill will be making the rounds throughout California for chalk talks with USC fans in May and June. The Q&A with the coaches will be proceeded by a reception, dinner and silent auction, with all funds supporting USC athletics.

For the cities and dates covered in the tour, as well as information for how to register, click here.

Prater catch on video

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If you were here for the live blog of Saturday's scrimmage, or read the recap afterwards, there's a good chance you could sense our excitement over Kyle Prater's one-handed touchdown grab.

Well, it just so happens that a free Trojans All-Access video recap can be found right here. For those looking specifically for the Prater highlight, fast forward to the 1:38 mark.

Recap Saturday's scrimmage

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Click here to read the recap of the action from today's scrimmage.

Post-scrimmage Lane interview

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Photos from Swim with Mike

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Players pose with the Song Girls just after the conclusion of the relay race.


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The relay race winning team, consisting of Matt Barkley, Boomer Roepke, Marquis Simmons, Robbie Boyer and Song Girl Shannon.


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Matt Barkley changes the numbers of the sign displaying the amount of money raised by the foundation. As of 2 p.m., Swim with Mike had raised $922,270.

Stats from Saturday's scrimmage

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Photos from Saturday's practice

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Shots courtesy of USC Staff Photographer Pierson Clair.


Football relay results

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The team of Matt Barkley, Robbie Boyer, Marquis Simmons and Boomer Roepke won today's football relay at the Swim With Mike event.  Roepke swam the anchor leg and overcame a HUGE deficit for the victory to the cheers and amazement of the crowd.

Let's not tell anybody that Roepke used to compete for the USC swim team before joining the Trojan football squad first as a student manager and now as a walk-on cornerback and punter.  He was a high school All-American swimmer who won a Nevada state championship in the breaststroke.  But nobody needs to know that, otherwise they might claim, um, "dirty pool."

More from Howard Jones Field and Swim with Mike

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- Worth mentioning again was the fantastic performance by Matt Barkley. The sophomore completed 70 percent of his passes (21-30) for 291 yards and five touchdowns with zero interceptions. Barkley again drew praise from his head coach, Lane Kiffin, after the scrimmage concluded.

- Last week, Kiffin encouraged his receiving corps to match the "championship" level of intensity that Ronald Johnson had demonstrated so far during camp. They did a nice job of responding today, with several wideouts making receptions from both quarterbacks throughout the day. Four different receivers caught Barkley's five touchdown tosses on the day.

- Of the receivers, Brice Butler finished with six grabs for 77 yards (both team highs) and a touchdown. Travon Patterson and Stanley Havili both had four catches apiece, going for 54 and 44 yards, respectively.

- T.J. Bryant took a step toward earning back his number 1 jersey by diving to intercept a short tipped pass for the only turnover on the day. Bryant also recorded a pair of tackles to go along with his pick.

- Nick Perry also led the way defensively, helping stifle the Trojans offensive attack with 5 tackles, four of which went for a loss, including three sacks.

- DaJohn Harris recorded a red zone sack that proved to be a key play in stopping the offense, which was at the 2-yard line, from scoring.

- Although the Trojans running attack was mostly held in check for the day, Allen Bradford and C.J. Gable enjoyed solid performances. Gable racked up 41 yards on 11 carries (tied for the team-high for attempts) and Bradford went for 45 yards on seven carries.

- The Trojan Marching Band came into Howard Jones Field and played the requisite "Conquest" and "Fight On" tunes just as the team began its scrimmage portion of the practice. The band then marched over to McDonald's Swim Stadium for Swim with Mike.

- Unlike last week's scrimmage, which featured heavy scoring on the first couple drives, the offenses took a little more time to get in rhythm and find paydirt.

- Former Trojans in attendance included Zach Wilson, Darryl Knight, Mike Mooney and Michael Hayes.

- Today's scrimmage came with its expected nicks, with Curtis McNeal (back), Johnson (arm) and Dillon Baxter (knee) suffering minor bruises that forced them to sit out midway through.

Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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On a hot and muggy day at Howard Jones Field, USC played its second intrasquad scrimmage of the spring. As the band could be heard playing from the Swim with Mike fundraiser at the neighboring McDonald's Swim Stadium, many fans also caught the action from Swim's lunch tables set up along the sideline. RipsIt also captured the sights and sounds of the day - here are a few observations from our perspective...

- Matt Barkley accounted for all five touchdowns on the day, each one through the air (including a pair to Kyle Prater). He finished with a very efficient 21-of-30 passing for 291 yards.

- Having moved to the tight end position from wide receiver this spring, Jordan Cameron looked comfortable with his reassignment. The senior BYU transfer caught five passes for 72 yards, including a 12- yard grab in the back right corner of the end zone.

- The highlight play of the day award went to Prater, who made a sensational one-handed catch as he was running down the far sideline, and then finished the play by getting to the pylon for the 40-yard score.

- After practice, head coach Lane Kiffin commended the play of the front seven on defense, which did a good job shutting down the run. He liked Barkley's performance.  He also praised the offensive line, which worked hard for both offensive squads (only seven linemen were available for the scrimmage).  But he said that the running game needed to step up.

RipsIt is heading over to Swim with Mike for a bit, but check back later for photos, stats, and more details from today's action (including Swim with Mike stuff).

Live blog from Saturday's scrimmage

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Much like the Trojans, we're locked and loaded for another Saturday chock-full of highlights. It's a bit overcast at Howard Jones Field, but that's not stopping us or the team (or everyone across the way at McDonalds Pool attending Swim with Mike) from bringing you all the best from today's scrimmage.

C'mon in!


New Project Trojan

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The first episode of "Project Trojan:  2010 Spring Football" is now available for free viewing at USCTrojans.com.  Click here for the direct link.

The show includes exclusive practice footage as well as interviews with head coach Lane Kiffin, assistant coach Ed Orgeron, quarterback Matt Barkley and linebacker Malcolm Smith as they go through the opening days of spring ball.

While this episode is free, future "Project Trojan" episodes will be part of the premium content on USCTrojans.com's All-Access platform, so sign up here.

Next week, look for an episode highlighting the Pro Day experience of the draft-eligible Trojans.

Saturday live blog

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Back by popular demand, RipsIt will again be live blogging Saturday's scrimmage to relay all the happenings from Howard Jones Field.

We had a tremendous following and interaction with all of you during the live from last Saturday's scrimmage.  We had fun reading all your comments, answering your questions and chatting with the best fans in the world. So happy, in fact, that we're considering making the live blog a standard part of RipsIt for all future USC scrimmages (including the May 1 Spring Football Game at the Coliseum) as well as the regular season home games next year.

As for tomorrow, Stephanie Graves will also be returning to help respond to user questions and provide her own observations of the action. So don't be shy to keep us on our toes with plenty of comments and feedback.  Oh, and it'll be a full day for Stephanie, because as soon as the scrimmage is over she'll rush over to the McDonald's Swim Stadium and join her Trojan Marching Band-mates as they perform at Swim With Mike (look for her; she plays the mellophone).

Check back in at this very location around 11 a.m. tomorrow to get the color commentary on the sights and sounds of Saturday's practice.

Or, if you'd prefer to watch the scrimmage in-person, click here to find out how you can get your pass into Howard Jones Field.

Either way, we hope to see you then!

Ted Miller's take on the Trojans

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Here are a couple reports that were filed yesterday by ESPN's Pac-10 blogger, Ted Miller, following his visit to USC:

Miller's practice notes are here.

Miller's video chat with linebacker Malcolm Smith is here.

Miller also had a lengthy sitdown interview with Lane Kiffin and he should be posting that story soon.

New furniture

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The furniture movers are here again today, with another truckload of new desks, chairs and other items to install in the coaches offices.


This time, the furniture is mainly earmarked for the defensive coaches, so the movers are waiting for the defensive staff meeting to break and the coaches to go off to lunch before the installation process can be completed.

Long day

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There's no football practice today for the Trojans, but Lane Kiffin and his staff are in the office preparing for Saturday's practice, which will include another intrasquad scrimmage. 


But if the Trojan coaches seem to be dragging a bit today, they have an excuse.  They put in a 20-hour day yesterday.


April 15 is the first day that the NCAA allows football coaches to call current high school juniors, so the Trojan coaches were all up at 3 a.m. to start making those calls.  They didn't waste a minute dialing up recruits across the country, another testament to the attitude and drive Kiffin and his staff have towards recruiting.


Because the Trojans also practiced yesterday afternoon, the coaches didn't get out of the office until 11 p.m. because they were reviewing the practice video.  They were back in Heritage Hall this morning getting ready for tomorrow's scrimmage.


So, the coffee pot in the football office is getting refilled often today.

 

USC swim teams go 30 for 30

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Here's a list of a few things that can be accomplished in a 30 hour time span:

  • Fly from Los Angeles to South Africa
  • Watch your favorite Super Bowl commercial 3600 times
  • 31,130 sit-ups
  • Swim for a good cause. A lot.

USC's men's and women's swim teams elected to go with the latter, combining to swim for 30 consecutive hours for this year's 30th anniversary of Swim with Mike.

The teams began their marine marathon this morning at 8 a.m. and will continue until 2 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday April 17).

To sponsor any of the swimmers from either team, click here. And if you want to simply cheer on your fellow Trojans, head over to McDonalds Pool on the USC campus sometime within the next 27 hours.

More from Howard Jones Field

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- Linebacker Michael Morgan came away with an interception early on in practice after Shareece Wright made a nice play to deflect the ball off the intended receiver.

- During seven-on-seven passing drills, safety Byron Moore made a Willie Mays-esque over-the-shoulder interception on a deep ball.

- Even nose tackle Christian Tupou got in on the pass coverage action by knocking down a short screen intended for Stanley Havili.

- Fullback Hunter Simmons leveled Wright, who came up for an attempted tackle as Simmons rumbled with the ball around the left side.

- Credit linebacker Devon Kennard with the other big hit of the day, as he steamrolled Marc Tyler for a loss during a full-squad scrimmage on Brian Kennedy Field.

- With former offensive tackle Charles Brown preparing for next week's NFL draft, redshirt sophomore Matt Kalil has stepped into the role of overbearing O-lineman. The 6-6 Kalil towers over most of his defenders (and fellow blockers) at the blindside tackle position.

- Practice concluded with a pair of redzone touchdown throws to Brice Butler and Ronald Johnson. Butler acrobatically reeled in a pass to the near corner, after quarterback Matt Barkley rolled to his right to keep the play alive. Mitch Mustain then hooked up with a leaping Johnson on a rollout to his left to conclude practice.

- Afterward, head coach Lane Kiffin complimented Barkley and Johnson on their play thus far. "(Barkley) continues to throw the ball extremely well downfield," he said before noting the good chemistry that the duo has fostered during spring camp. "They have really grown together throughout the spring," Kiffin added.

- With injuries affecting the tight end roster, Jordan Cameron stood out by catching a short buttonhook over the middle and taking it for a touchdown, and later channeling his basketball skills by executing a tip drill to haul in a short pass.

- Former USC head coach John Robinson, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame last year, watched today's practice. Also observing the action today were Joe and Emily Danelo, the parents of late Trojan placekicker Mario Danelo. Joe also sat in the special teams meeting prior to practice.

- Former Trojans Chris Hale, Nick Vanderboom also watched practice from the sideline.

- Kiffin concluded by saying about his team:  "It's time to go to the next level."

Photos from Thursday's practice

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Jacob Harfman practices his onside kick technique.


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Allen Bradford braces for impact. Or impact braces for Allen Bradford. We're still not sure which.


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Former USC head coach and Hall-of-Famer John Robinson observes the team's practice.


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Defensive end Nick Perry locks up with an opposing offensive lineman in a pass protection drill.


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Dillon Baxter lays out for a pass while Kyle Prater watches.

Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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We've surpassed the halfway mark of spring practices following today's work, although head coach Lane Kiffin continues to raise his expectations of the team. As the sun periodically dipped behind the partly-cloudy skies, RipsIt took in Thursday's action...

- As what appears to be the standard way to begin practice, players participated in several lengthy special teams drills to start today's session.

- There was a clear emphasis on one-on-one receiver drills, as three different groups simultaneously pitted a receiver (WR, TE and RB) against a defensive player (CB, S, and LB).

- With Will Harris and Kevin Thomas, two recent members of the Trojan secondary, looking on, the defensive backs had a solid day containing their receivers and forcing incompletions and short passes.

- For the second straight practice, the team showed its "wild" side, running a few plays out of the Wildcat formation.

Check back later for some photos and a more detailed report of today's practice.

Taking it to the next level

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In one week, several former USC standouts will have their names called as they join the ranks of the professional football world. The 2010 NFL draft is takes place next Thursday (the actual selections begin at 4:30 PST) and will take place over a three-day span - a new format in which the selection process will last more than two days.

The first round is scheduled for Thursday, with rounds two and three starting at 3 p.m. PST Friday, and the final four rounds feeding the early birds at 7 a.m. PST Saturday.

Although there won't be any USC players sitting in Radio City Music Hall's "green room" (the location where NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell opens the envelopes in front of the cameras), quite a few Trojans are hoping to have their names called.

Here's a list of the players who've entered their names in the running:

  • Charles Brown, OT
  • Luthur Brown, LB
  • Jeff Byers, C-OL
  • Garrett Green, QB-WR
  • Everson Griffen, DE
  • Will Harris, S
  • Nick Howell, OL
  • Stafon Johnson, RB
  • Taylor Mays, S
  • Anthony McCoy, TE
  • Joe McKnight, RB
  • Alex Parsons, OL
  • Josh Pinkard, S
  • Averell Spicer, DT
  • Kevin Thomas, CB
  • Damian Williams

All three rounds will air on ESPN.

Ready for some football

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We here at RipsIt certainly are. In just a few short hours, the Trojans will march onto Howard Jones Field for the Thursday 4 p.m. practice. From the sound of it (Dr. Dre's "The Next Episode" can be heard echoing from the downstairs Heritage Halfootball lockerroom), the players are already busy preparing.

ESPN.com's Pac-10 blogger, Ted Miller, will be on campus to get his take on how the team is shaping up, so keep your eyes peeled (and "refresh" buttons clicked) for his updates.

Be sure to also revisit RipsIt later on tonight for the practice recap and some photos.

From the desk of the A.D.

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This is another installment in an occasional series, "From the Desk of the A.D." It allows you to hear directly from USC athletic director Mike Garrett, who gives you his thoughts on several topical and hot-button subjects for the Trojans and college sports. 


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By Mike Garrett
USC Athletic Director




--I've watched several football practices so far this spring and I really like what I've seen.  The team is progressing very well.  I've noticed improvement across the board and there's great camaraderie out there.  The players have become a reflection of Coach Kiffin and his staff.  The coaches are preaching discipline and toughness, and you can see that it's hitting home with the players.  Before spring practice began, Lane and assistant coach Ed Orgeron went into the football lockerroom in Heritage Hall and were stunned to see how messy the players had left it.  So they called a team meeting, handed out brooms and wipes and trash bags and sent he team down to clean it up.  I guarantee you that lockerroom is very tidy today.  Here's another example I've seen of Lane's attention to detail and discipline.  If a player jumps offsides or fumbles the ball or makes a mistake in practice, he takes a lap right then and there.  I like that;  it forces the players to focus and it makes them understand that every play is important.  On the field, it's evident that many players have stepped up their game.  Ronald Johnson is having a great camp.  Matt Barkley has noticeably improved.  The battle at middle linebacker between Chris Galippo and Devon Kennard is just that, a real battle.  The defensive line is going to be a monster.  Shareece Wright is playing like a seasoned veteran.  And the new freshmen, Dillon Baxter and Kyle Prater, are truly special players.  I think you're going to like the 2010 USC football team.
 
--One of the most festive days each year on campus is when we hold the Swim With Mike event.  The 30th anniversary of the Swim is this Saturday, April 17, and we hope you'll come out.  Hundreds of swimmers, spectators and recipients of USC's Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship will flock to the McDonald's Swim Stadium, churning up laps that translate into financial pledges.  Football practice will be going on next door at 11 a.m. and if you buy a lunch ticket at the Swim, you can watch the 2010 Trojans scrimmage on Howard Jones Field.  And stick around afterwards when our No. 1-ranked women's water polo team hosts UCLA at 4:30 p.m. in the pool.
 
--If you want to meet Lane Kiffin, there are a couple opportunities coming up.  On April 26 at the Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club, Lane and his staff will be hosting the 2010 Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic.  Join fellow Trojans for a fun day of golf and a chance to gain some insight from the football staff.  Then there's the annual coaches tour, when Lane and men's basketball coach Kevin O'Neill hit the road in May and June to host a dinner and chalk talk for Trojan fans.  The dates are May 19 (Pasadena), May 20 (Westlake Village), May 24 (San Diego), May 26 (Irvine), June 2 (Manhattan Beach), June 4 (Indian Wells) and June 10 (San Francisco).  If you're interested in any of these events, call our athletic development office at 213-740-4155.
 
--Mark down May 1 on your calendar if you want to take in a full menu of USC sports.  It starts at 7:30 a.m. when our women's rowing team hosts UCLA at the boathouse in Wilmington.  The annual Spring Football Game kicks off at noon in the Coliseum.  And the baseball team hosts Arizona at 1:30 p.m. at Dedeaux Field.  Several Trojan teams will also be competing across town in Westwood.  The men's and women's track teams will be at the annual dual meet starting at 11 a.m. in Drake Stadium.  And the water polo team will be playing there in the semifinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.

Smith named to Lott Watch List

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Senior linebacker Malcolm Smith has been named to the Watch List for the 2010 Lott Trophy.

Sponsored by The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, the award is given to a player who exhibits the same characteristics that former USC and NFL great Ronnie Lott embodied during his playing career:  integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.

Baxter's run making the rounds

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Dillon Baxter isn't listed on USC's injury report, but the all-purpose freshman (he's basically played every offensive position besides lineman this spring) is showing some sick abilities.

The rest of the world seems to have caught Baxter fever as well.

As of noon today, the video of Baxter's run from Saturday's scrimmage has gone viral - logging more than 1.175 million views since it was uploaded to YouTube on Monday.

The video has appeared on numerous blogs and, most notably, on the front page of Yahoo.com.

DaJohn Harris' play at the start of the clip isn't too shabby, either.

If you haven't seen the video yet, check it out here. And if you've seen it already, it's still worth a second glance. And a third. We at USC RipsIt have it playing on a continuous loop. Yeah, it's that good.

Gauntlet time!

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Three Trojan teams in action this week have the opportunity to extend USC's lead over UCLA in the Crosstown Gauntlet (the all-sports competition between the two schools).

Men's and women's tennis both face the Bruins this Friday (April 16). The women square off against their powder blue-clad opponents at 1:30 p.m. in Westwood, with men's play starting at 3 p.m. at USC's Marks Tennis Stadium.

On Saturday, April 17, women's water polo looks to maintain its No. 1 national ranking against the Bruins in the McDonald's Swim Stadium at 4:30 p.m.

With Gauntlet points on the line (USC currently leads the competition, 42.5 to 35),  these three matchups present a pivotal sequence in the race for Los Angeles bragging rights. All three events have free admission, so come support your friends rocking the Cardinal and Gold!

A good Baxter read

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Here's a feature story on tailback Dillon Baxter by Nick Canepa, the longtime columnist at Baxter's hometown newspaper, the San Diego Union Tribune.

New walk-ons

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Here's a list of the 10 walk-ons who tried out and were invited to join the Trojans for spring practice:

 2    ROMNESS, Cody -- S, 5-11, 175, 6/2/89, So.*/Jr., Palm Desert (Palm Desert)
 4    CALISTRO, Walter -- WR, 5-9, 165, 5/29/91, Fr.*/So., Kailua, HI (Kamehameha)
13    O'BRIEN, William -- SNP, 5-11, 200, 5/26/89, Fr.*/So., Pleasanton (Foothill)
28    FREEMAN, Luke -- LB, 5-10, 200, 7/17/90, Fr.*/So., Westlake Village (Westlake)
39    DER, Bobby -- PK, 6-1, 170, 9/13/89, So.*/Jr., Naperville, IL (Naperville North/North Central College)
48    HARBIN, James -- CB, 5-10, 175, 2/23/89, Jr.*/Sr., Los Angeles (Narbonne/Los Angeles Southwest JC)
57    ALONSO, Augusto -- LB, 6-1, 210, 12/27/89, So.*/Jr., Omaha, NE (Creighton Prep)
84    KUSNIR, Zack -- TE, 6-6, 260, 2/6/89, Jr.*/Sr., La Jolla (La Jolla Country Day/San Diego State)
86    SERRANO, Jeff -- TE-SNP, 6-5, 235, 3/16/88, Sr.*/Sr., Walnut (Walnut/Mt. San Antonio JC)
87    CHILDS, Eric -- TE, 6-4, 225, 12/7/89, So.*/Jr., Cypress (St. Michael's Prep)

Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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The Trojans ran through a long (more than two-and-a-half hours) practice on Tuesday that started in mild temperature with a clear sky but turned chilly late in the drills as the sun went down.

 

"It was a pretty decent Tuesday practice," said USC head coach Lane Kiffin.  "I was really impressed with the offensive line.  We only had 6 offensive linemen today and they all did well."

 

Some observations:

 

--Once again, a good portion of the early practice (45 minutes) was devoted to special teams fundamentals.

 

--A number of receivers made nice catches and/or big plays, including Travon Patterson, Robbie Boyer, Ronald Johnson, Kyle Prater, Brice Butler, David Ausberry and Jordan Cameron.  Prater outdueled cornerback Shareece Wright in a one-on-one drill, followed soon after by a Butler highlight grab.  Johnson, as he has in nearly every spring practice, hauled in a long scoring bomb.  Johnson later made a spectacular reception of an underthrown ball, squatting low and then flicking the ball up one-handed to make the catch for a sizable gain.  Quarterback Matt Barkley hit Patterson on a long aerial that drew cheers from teammates and spectators.

 

--The hit of the day might have been linebacker Devon Kennard's crunching blow on tight end Jordan Cameron.

 

--In run drills, tailback Allen Bradford charged up the middle and broke through several tacklers for an impressive long gain.

 

--The practice ended with a 2-minute drill.  Linebacker Malcolm Smith ended one drive with a pass deflection that brought the entire defense unit alive.  Then safety T.J. McDonald, on first-and-goal from the 9-yard line and 2 seconds on the clock, made an endzone interception that concluded the day's practice.

 

--The Trojans experimented with the Wildcat formation for a few plays, with tailback Dillon Baxter lined up at quarterback.  "It's something I've done at the last two places I coached (Oakland Raiders and Tennessee) and so I wanted to try it here," said Kiffin.  "It's just an experiment.  Maybe we'll bring it out again some time."

 

--There was a new player wearing a gold quarterback jersey:  defensive end James Boyd.  The coaches told him yesterday they were switching him back to the position he played in high school (he threw for 4,266 yards and 44 touchdowns as a 2008 senior at Los Angeles Jordan High) and he jumped at the opportunity.  "I was happy when they told me," the 6-5, 250-pound Boyd said.  "I've got to get back into quarterback shape now.  I spent the whole past year getting bigger to play defensive line.  I have a lot to learn and I have to get my mechanics down.  But I'm excited."  Said Kiffin:  "We're thin in our quarterback depth.  James did some really good things at quarterback in high school.  He has a big time arm."

 

--Kiffin was asked his analysis about last Saturday's scrimmage, now that he was able to watch video of it:  "I didn't like the defense in the first half and the offense in the second half.  It was a great lesson for the offense, which didn't come out with the same energy in the second half.  But I thought Matt Barkley had an unbelievable downfield day throwing the ball."

 

--Cornerback T.J. Bryant and wide receiver De'Von Flournoy, who both shared jersey No. 1, have been assigned different numbers.  Bryant is now No. 38 and Flournoy is No. 81.  "We have some special numbers here at USC, like No. 1 and No. 43, which have been worn by some dominant players in the past," said Kiffin.  "I'm not sure either of those players are operating at that level yet.  They need to earn that number, to deserve it."

 

--There were a number of former Trojan players who watched the first half of practice before heading to the Galen Dining Center for a gathering of the Trojan Football Alumni Club.  Among those spotted were Anthony Davis, Allen Carter, C. R. Roberts, Manfred Moore, John Mazur, Joe Collins, Shane Foley, Marvin Cobb, Andy Eddy, Mike McGirr, Paul Salata, Brad Leggett, Matt Koart, Anthony Daye, Michael Hayes, Clint Hampton, Brian Weissberg and Sam Tsagalakis.  Former longtime assistant track coach Ken Matsuda was also there.

 

--One of the referees who has been working most of this spring's USC practices is Jim Farmer, who has officiated many BCS-conference games.  He's very familiar with the campus;  his late father, Herb, was a professor in the USC School of Cinematic Arts for more than 70 years and also shot Trojan football coaching films from the roof of the Coliseum press box.

 

--Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and some of his staff members stopped by to watch part of practice and say hello to Kiffin.

 

--Kiffin had a surprise visit at the end of practice from his wife, Layla, and their 3 children, Landry, Presley and Knox.

Ricky Rosas update

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Pete Carroll might have moved on, but Ricky Rosas--who was the "Special Assistant to the Head Coach" during the final few years of Carroll's tenure--still makes appearances in the Trojan football offices and at practice.

 

The 4-foot-8, 100-pound Rosas gained national attention while helping out the Trojans.  He is developmentally disabled as a result of juvenile cancer, but he made a 90-minute bus ride from his home in East L.A. to USC nearly each day for those past few seasons to perform various duties for the Trojan football program, including handing out water at practices and running errands for the coaches.

 

He is now a 21-year-old sophomore at East Los Angeles College, majoring in communication and on track to receive his A.A. degree in the spring of 2011.  English is his favorite class and he said his grades are good.  After finishing at East L.A., he hopes to transfer to a 4-year university before starting a career in the sports media.

 

His academic schedule has somewhat limited his ability to get to USC as often as the past few years, but he still shows up to help whenever he can...still taking that long bus ride.

 

And he's truly excited about the new coaching staff--he got to know new USC head coach Lane Kiffin during Kiffin's first tour of duty at Troy--and the 2010 Trojans.

 

"The coaches are great guys and I'm glad they're here," said Rosas, as he prepared to go out to today's spring practice.  "I'm looking forward to another great season.  I can't wait.  The team looks good.  They all look like they've gotten better.  And the new players are everything people said they'd be."

 

Rosas has a message for Trojan fans:  "I want to thank all of them for supporting me in everything I have done here.  USC means the world to me and everybody here means everything to me.  They're like family to me."

Window washing

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Graduation must be approaching (it's on May 14), because the windows in Heritage Hall are getting their annual power wash today.

During the month leading up to graduation, the entire USC campus gets spruced up.  You'll notice new flowerbeds put in, sidewalks steam cleaned, trees trimmed and the like.  At the two-story Heritage Hall, that means more than 80 ground to ceiling windows that are now sparkling.

Jake, Matt and Kris swim a lap

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Take a look at this fun video featuring quarterback Matt Barkley, center Kristofer O'Dowd and 12-year-old blind USC fan Jake Olson racing at the Swim With Mike "First Lap" celebration in early March at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica.

And yes, Matt and Kris, Jake did beat you guys!  It's right there on the video.  He'll be ready for a rematch at this Saturday's 30th annual Swim With Mike affair at the McDonald's Swim Stadium.  The football player/Song Girl relay will start at 1:30 p.m.

Lunch break

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After a morning of meetings in preparation for today's spring football practice, the coaching staff is taking a quick lunch break.  Many of them have scurried downstairs to the Varsity Lounge to enjoy the annual meal provided to the athletic department staff and coaches by Pasadena's Burger Continental.

Then, the football staff will head back into the coaches' meeting room to finalize today's practice plan.  Week 3 of USC's 2010 spring practice begins today at 4 p.m. on Howard Jones Field.

We'll return after practice with a report.

So, if you want to watch the football team practice...

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...here's how (AND you can support a good cause at the same time).  Come on out to this Saturday's Swim With Mike swim-a-thon at the McDonald's Swim Stadium.

The Trojans will be holding a spring football practice and scrimmage at 11 a.m. on Howard Jones Field.  If you raise $50 for Swim With Mike (either by getting people to sponsor laps you'll swim in the same pool that hosted the 1984 Olympics, or by simply donating the money yourself), you'll get a free ticket to the barbeque lunch that is served on the northwest portion of Howard Jones Field. (Or you can buy a $15 lunch ticket at the door). Then simply walk through the gate from the swim stadium to the adjacent football field and you can watch practice right up close along the sideline.

And while you're there, stick around for the famous annual relay race featuring the USC football team and the Song Girls. Joining them in the pool will be one of our favorite Trojan fans, Jake Olson, the 12-year-old who lost his sight to cancer. Hey, why not sponsor Jake for $50?  Last month, Jake beat Matt Barkley and Kristofer O'Dowd in a swim sprint, and he's aiming for a repeat performance on Saturday.

The 30th annual Swim With Mike festivities begin at 8 a.m. and run until 3 p.m. The Trojan Marching Band will show up at noon. There will be a silent auction with a number of cool football-related items, including sideline passes to home games, a train trip to the Oregon State game and autographed memorabilia from current and former Trojan players.

Since its inception in 1981, Swim With Mike has raised $10 million for the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund. That money has helped more than 90 athletes who have overcome life challenging accidents or illnesses attend USC and 33 other universities.  For more information, check out www.swimwithmike.org.

Sign up now for the Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic

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Join head coach Lane Kiffin and the rest of the football coaching staff for an afternoon of golf, dinner and a chance to go home with some exclusive USC football memorabilia at the 2010 Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic on April 26 at the Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club.

The schedule for the event's activities is as follows:

8:30 a.m.: Registration and check-in at the Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club.

10:00 a.m.: Tee off with the coaches and fellow USC supporters

5:00 p.m.: Dinner, followed by an awards ceremony, a live auction and a talk from Kiffin.

Throughout the day there will also be a silent auction, which will include such items as travel packages to the 2010 USC football games at Hawaii and Minnesota, a trip on the USC team plane to a road game and sideline passes to all of USC's 2010 home games (including the Notre Dame contest).

The Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic will be hosted by the Trojan Football Board of Directors.

Click here for more information, including registration for the event, or call 213-740-4155.

Birthday shout-out

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Defensive end Nick Perry and linebacker Chris Galippo are celebrating birthdays today. Perry turns 20, while Galippo turns 21.

Harris, Baxter video highlights from Saturday's scrimmage

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Take a look at this video clip that includes two impressive plays from the intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday.

The first video shows DaJohn Harris snatching the ball away from quarterback Mitch Mustain and rumbling down the field 52 yards on the fumble return.

Next up is a beautiful run by Dillon Baxter, as he sidesteps away from several defenders on his way to a 50-yard score. If you look closely, you'll notice that the only contact Baxter has with any defenders are the light pats on the back he gives while juking his way to paydirt. After the scrimmage, head coach Lane Kiffin compared Baxter's run to the famous Reggie Bush scamper against Fresno State in 2005.

If you're watching this video at work or in class, be warned that it may evoke excited screams of amazement.
 

Birthday shout-out

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Happy birthday to senior cornerback Omari Crittenden, who turns 22 today. 

Photos from Saturday's practice

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Scrimmage recap story

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For a recap on today's intrasquad scrimmage, click here.

Stats from Saturday's scrimmage

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More from Howard Jones Field

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- "New" and "different" have been terms thrown around Heritage Hall on a more than usual basis lately, today being no exception. This morning began with a new feature on RipsIt -- a live chat bringing fans the sights and sounds of today's practice, including the full scrimmage. Though an experiment, it has already seen early success and may become a new permanent addition to the world of Trojan Football.

- Both Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain excelled with their respective offensive squads. Barkley threw for three touchdowns and Mustain for one while neither signalcaller threw an interception. The quarterbacks completed a variety of passes, spreading the ball all over Howard Jones Field and hardly shying away from tossing it up to downfield receivers. Barkley finished 9 of 17 for 173 yards to go with his three scores while Mustain completed 10 of 21 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown.

- Dillon Baxter's early enrollment at USC appears to be paying its dividends. Although the practice wasn't broadcast, Baxter still put together several highlight reel-type plays. The tailback swerved between defenders on a 50-yard touchdown scamper that even seemed to entertain members of USC's defensive players on the sideline. Afterwards, head coach Lane Kiffin likened it to Reggie Bush's famous run against Fresno State.  On only nine carries, Baxter amassed 94 yards for a 10.4 yards per carry average.

- The two offensive units combined for 468 yards in 18 total possessions (9 per squad).

- Ronald Johnson exhibited his versatility and chemistry with Barkley and Mustain by hauling in several passes from both quarterbacks from several spots on the field. Johnson corralled four passes for 167 yards and two scores, with 70 of those yards coming on a spectacular deep pass from Barkley in the first half.

- Kyle Prater caught five passes for 41 yards, including a nice touchdown grab on a red zone fade route. Like Baxter, Prater is looking to become an early contributor to the Trojans' offensive arsenal in his first year with the team.  Remember, both Baxter and Prater should still be seniors in high school! 

- The outstanding second-half effort by the defense rendered both offensive squads scoreless for the period thanks to pressure from the line and tightened coverage by the secondary. Leading the way with 5 tackles each were Jordan Cambell and DaJohn Harris (three of his resulted in a loss). Harris' highlight of the day was a 52-yard fumble return that resulted in a short score for Barkley's squad. On the play, Harris came from the blind side and stole the ball out of Mustain's hand and then rumbled toward the goal line, coming up 6 yards short.  Shareece Wright, walk-on Taylor Ashton and Shane Horton tallied 4 tackles each, further contributing to the second half shutout.  

- One of the special visitors today was cancer survivor and football fan Jake Olson. Olson and his family are on campus today to participate in Relay for Life on Cromwell Field as a part of the Ryan Davidson team. Davidson, like Olson, had a close relationship with the USC football program, but unfortunately lost his nine-and-a-half year battle to cancer in Feburary 2009 at the age of 16. Ricky Rosas, also a cancer survivor and important member of the Trojan football family, is participating in Relay for Life as well.

-Other Trojan football alumni vistors included: Recently graduated OG-C Jeff Byers, WR Damiam Williams, New York Giants' CB Terrell Thomas and WR Steve Smith, who watched his younger brother and current Trojan linebacker, Malcolm.

Special thanks to Stephanie Graves for her contributions to today's live blog and practice wrap-ups.

Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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The Trojans and new head coach Lane Kiffin conducted their first scrimmage of spring under cloudy skies that eventually dissipated into the requisite Southern California sun. A few notes through the eyes of RipsIt (also check out the post below for the entire transcription of the scrimmage live blog)...

- After players went though a shortened version of their typical warmups, the first half of the scrimmage displayed plenty of offensive firepower. Matt Barkley led off the opening drive by marching down the field and connecting with Ronald Johnson on a short post route for a TD.  It was the first of 5 TDs in the 37-play first half.

- The scrimmage did not incorporate any special teams; no field goals were attempted and instead of punting to the opposing team, the conclusion of one team's possession was followed by the other team taking the ball at their own 30 yard line.

- Several hundred high school coaches were in attendance as well as Harvard head coach Tim Murphy, all of whom will later partake in the Nike Coaches Clinic.

- After a brief halftime break, the defense found its stride. Neither offensive team scored in the second half.  Both quarterbacks--Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain--directed 9 series each.

Live blog from Saturday's scrimmage

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Good morning, RipsIt readers! Although the sun has decided to take a short hiatus from its week-long perch above Howard Jones Field (if there was ever a reason to use that SPF 5 sunblock, today might be it), we at USCRipsIt are still here to bring you the latest and greatest from spring ball.

Check back in at 11 a.m. when we kick off the live blog.

 

Live blog this Saturday

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When the Trojans have their first scrimmage of spring ball this Saturday (tomorrow), join USCRipsIt at 11 a.m. for a live blog covering the sights and sounds of the intra-squad game. Readers are welcome to sign in and chat with USCRipsIt and other Trojan fans looking to get up-to-the-minute details of the action.

The Live blog will be hosted right here on USCRipsIt, so check back tomorrow at 11 a.m. to get in on the inside scoop.

Keeping up with Ben Malcolmson

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Loyal readers of USCRipsIt might want to bookmark this site to keep up with our original blogger Ben Malcolmson, who is now doing a blog for the Seattle Seahawks.

More from Howard Jones Field

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- With the first two full-pads practices featuring a heavy dose of defense, the Trojan offense let it rip today with some highlight reel plays. "I was very pleased the way the offense responded," head coach Lane Kiffin proudly stated after practice. "(They) responded today after getting beat up."

- During seven-on-seven drills, Mitch Mustain connected with Ronald Johnson on a 55-yard touchdown bomb that hit the receiver perfectly in stride. Kiffin was again impressed by Johnson's play. "Ronald continues to make big plays for us down the field," he said of his veteran receiver.

- Mustain followed his pass to RoJo by again airing it out and hitting Travon Patterson for a long touchdown. Later in the drill, Mustain scrambled away from pressure and drew in the linebackers by threatening to take off with the ball, before stepping back and hitting Kyle Prater in the back of the endzone.

- Matt Barkley joined the longball fun, hooking up with Brice Butler on a 40-yard pass during seven-on-seven play. Butler, demonstrating his strength and athleticism, elevated between two defensive backs to reel in the pass.

- Barkley not only looked sharp with his completions, but also rather fleet of foot. "He's really picking up the offense," Kiffin said, while also noting that the sophomore quarterback's improved agility could be a result of his body fat dipping below 9 percent.

- Butler wasn't the only receiver wowing the crowd with spectacular play; freshman Prater continued his impressive showing today, diving low at the goal line pylon to make a Mike Williams-esque one-handed scoring grab. Robbie Boyer and Jordan Cameron each fought off multiple defenders to haul in long aerials to the delight of the fans in attendance.

- Center John Martinez made a nice take-down block on Wes Horton, drawing loud hoots from his offensive teammates.

- In a one-on-one passing drill, Torin Harris came up with an endzone interception.

- Kiffin liked what he saw with the team's level of intensity. "It's really almost a scrimmage out here, the way we practice," he said of his team's effort.

- Some more former Trojan players attended practice today, including Chris Claiborne, Bernard Riley, Lonnie Ford, Rod Sherman, Cedric Jefferson, Mark Spino, Allan Graf and Oscar Lua.

- The Trojans have Friday off, then return to the practice field on Saturday at 11 a.m.  They are expected to scrimmage during part of that practice.

- Even though there's no practice on Friday, the Trojans' coaching staff will be busy as the first day of the USC Football Coaches Clinic kicks off at 3 p.m.

Photos from Thursday's practice

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Jacob Harfman launches a kick over two outstretched blockers


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Matt Barkley aims and fires during passing fundamentals


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Torin Harris escapes the outstretched grasp of a defender during three-on-one kick return drills


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Jordan Campbell shows his brute force on a tackling dummy


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Ronald Johnson looks in a pass from Matt Barkley


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An official, one of the many who hone their skills while assisting USC at practice, signals for a touchdown during one-on-one red zone passing drills


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De'Von Flournoy rises and reaches for an impressive reception

Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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During Thursday's practice under yet another warm, cloudless sky, the Trojans responded well to head coach Lane Kiffin's demand for a higher level of intensity. Some brief notes through the eyes of the RipsIt Blog...

- With the defensive effort dominating the previous two practices, the offense stole the spotlight today with several long completions by Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain and a smattering of quality runs by tailbacks Curtis McNeal, Marc Tyler, Allen Bradford and CJ Gable.

- The team continued to devote significant practice time to special teams drills, again running a punt protection exercise and a highly competitive three-on-one return coverage drill that incorporated the flag teams.

- Stanley Havili returned to practice and looked active while running and catching passes.

- Ronald Johnson's speed continues to be a major asset to the USC offense. The senior wide receiver showed that he could beat his defenders deep as well as across the field.

Stay tuned for photos from today's practice and a more detailed report from the gridiron.

Kiffin on-air appearance

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At 5:30 head coach Lane Kiffin will speak on KLAC 570 AM with the Petros and Matt "Money" Smith.

Turn on your TV, quick!

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Head coach Lane Kiffin is scheduled to appear on ESPN's College Football Live at roughly 12:50 PST today. So approximately 2 minutes from when this post goes up.

Thursday practice preview

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Today's practice kicks off, as scheduled, at 4 p.m. The team is looking to respond to head coach Lane Kiffin's call to recreate the level of intensity that was exhibited on Saturday.

It's turning out to be another perfect day in the land of Troy. If you don't believe us, take a gander at these photos shot from atop the USC baseball offices that sit between Howard Jones Field and Dedeaux Field (sunglasses optional):

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The south half of the field, blanketed in sunshine




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The now-empty northern half of Howard Jones Field soon to be teeming with cardinal, gold and white jerseys


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Across the way is Dedeaux Field, featuring a baseball graphic carved into center field

Lock in

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Subscribers to USC All-Access can now watch the second of a three-part series of USC's new football show "USC 360." Click here to view the latest installment.

This episode dives into what makes head coach Lane Kiffin one of the best recruiters in the nation.  Find out what how he was able to keep the original 2010 recruiting class committed during the coaching transition while also adding some of the best high school talent in the nation to finish with what some experts called the No. 1 class.

While Part One of "Trojans 360" was free, subsequent episodes will be available to USC All-Access members.  Make sure to sign up.

"Trojans 360" will continue throughout the spring with sit-down interviews with some of the highest profile athletes and coaches at USC.

Birthday shout-out

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Happy birthday to senior cornerback Shareece Wright, who turns 23 today.

Listen to Kiffin

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Here's a link to Lane Kiffin's Wednesday evening appearance on KSPN radio, where he talks about his 2010 team and how they have to earn respect following last season. Take a listen.

Trojan kicking great Limahelu dies

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Chris Limahelu, the record-setting placekicker on USC's 1974 national championship football team who kicked a last-second field goal to beat Stanford in 1973, died today (Wednesday, April 7) in Los Angeles of prostate cancer.  He was 59.

Born in Indonesia, the diminutive (5-5, 130 pounds) Limahelu came to USC from South Hills High in West Covina (Calif.) and then Citrus Junior College in Glendora (Calif.). He was on USC's junior varsity team in 1972 as a sophomore.

He lettered 2 years at USC (1973-74).  As a Trojan junior in 1973, he hit 14-of-18 field goals and 31-of-34 PATs.  His 14 field goals set a since-broken school season record.  His 47-yard field goal against Ohio State in the 1974 Rose Bowl was the longest ever by a Trojan, breaking a 64-year-old record.  His 34-yard field goal with 3 seconds to play against Stanford that season gave USC a 27-26 victory as the Trojans overcame a 26-17 deficit in the final game's 2:10 and stayed alive in their bid for a Rose Bowl berth.

He then earned All-Pac-8 first team honors as a 1974 senior when the Trojans won the national title.  He was 10-of-17 on field goals and 39-of-43 on PATs.  He hit a 50-yard field goal against UCLA that season to break his 1-year-old USC distance mark.  He kicked a field goal and a PAT in USC's 18-17 win over Ohio State in the 1975 Rose Bowl.

After his playing career, Limahelu became an accountant.  He also was a volunteer for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses for the past 15 years.

There will be a private funeral service for family members.  A public memorial service is being planned.

Learning from the best

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We're just two days away from the start of the Nike Coach of the Year Clinic at USC, and spots are still available for sign-up at CampKiffin.com.

Head coach Lane Kiffin and his staff, as well as Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and Harvard head coach Tim Murphy, will lend their coaching insight during the April 9-10 sessions this Friday and Saturday.

In addition to this weekend's clinic, several USC sports-related camps are on the horizon for this summer. Here's a rundown for those interested in being coached by the nation's best and brightest:

- Registration for football camps focusing on individual positions can also be found at CampKiffin.com.

- To check out the dates and register for this summer's USC basketball camps click here.

- Learn how to bump, set and spike from one of the nation's top volleyball programs. Click here to learn from Coach Haley and the rest of the womens program, or click here for Coach Ferguson's mens camp.

- With back-to-back championships for the men, and a womens squad that currently boasts the number one ranking in the nation, it's probably safe to say that there's a thing or two to learn from water polo head coach Jovan Vavic. Click here for more information about his summer programs.

- Former MLB player and current head coach Chad Kreuter hosts his four-day camp this July. Check it out here.

- Mens tennis coach Peter Smith is offering several multi-day camps throughout the summer. Pick the session that best fits your schedule here.

- Kick it with womens soccer coach Ali Khosroshahin this summer by clicking here.

Sanchez lending words of wisdom

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Former Trojan quarterback Mark Sanchez is back on campus today, albeit not his own.

Sanchez and his brother, Nick Jr., are visiting Yale University today to speak with students and faculty. Nick played quarterback for Yale from 1992-94 before going to USC for law school and eventually becoming the agent for his younger brother.

Click here for a picture of Mark donning some Yale gear, courtesy of his Twitter.

Kiffin speaking on ESPN radio this afternoon

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Tune in to KSPN 710 AM at 5 p.m. today to hear head coach Lane Kiffin speak with hosts Steve Mason and Andy and Brian Kamentzky live in studio. Kiffin is scheduled to appear for approximately 30 minutes.

Tilley Tower nearing completion

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The finishing touches are being put on the large LED screen rising 100 feet above the corner of Jefferson and Flower outside the Galen Center. Here is some information on how it is progressing:

- The estimated date of completion is set for the end of April.
- Screens on both sides of the tower are angled in a "V" shape toward the 110 Freeway, making them easier to read for traffic coming from either direction.
- The USC letters just above the screen will illuminate at night, glowing, of course, in cardinal.
- The posts that support the structure extend approximately 30 feet below the ground.
- Per city code, there will not be any moving video shown on the screen, only text and graphics.  The athletic department will control the content that goes onto the screen.
- Also, per current code, there is no corporate or sponsorship signage on the tower, although that rule is currently being reviewed by city officials.

And now some photos...

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The brick and tan composition of the tower matches quite nicely with the Galen Center's coloration


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Named after longtime USC supporter Bill Tilley, the words "Tilley Tower" can be seen engraved below "Galen Center" behind the scaffolding



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From the northeast corner of the Galen Center, the marquee's V-shape is clearly visible

USC Baseball in action tonight

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Although Major League Baseball recently kicked off its 2010 season just three days ago, the Trojans' 2010 campaign is in full effect. The USC baseball team takes on visiting Cal State Bakersfield tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Dedeaux Field and tickets can be purchased online here or at the Dedeaux Field box office.

Tommy Award winners

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Here are the winners from last night's fifth annual Tommy Awards, put on by USC's Student-Athlete Advisory Council (S.A.A.C.) to honor Trojan student-athletes for their 2009 accomplishments.

Male - Individual Day Performance
Jordan Thompson - Men's Water Polo


Female Individual Day Performance
Zsofia Erdelyi - Track


Best Comeback
Ahmad Rashad -Track


Record Breaking Performance
Rebecca Soni - Swimming


Best Athlete - Female
Kami Craig- Women's Water Polo


Best Athlete Male (tie)
Robert Farah -  Tennis
Damian Williams - Football


Female Best Team of the Year
Tennis


Male - Best Team of the Year
Water Polo


Male Trojan of the Year
Jon Hackett


Female Trojan of the Year
Shalina Clarke


Coach of the Year
Jovan Vavic


Staff of the Year
Gregg Millward

More from Howard Jones Field

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- With more than half of last year's defensive squad returning, including three-fourths of the defensive line, the entire linebacking corps and the return of senior Shareece Wright to the secondary, USC's stoppers have began spring ball with an impressive start.

- Head coach Lane Kiffin complimented linebacker Jordan Campbell on his performance in practice today. The redshirt junior from Corona, Calif. also received praise from linebackers coach Joe Barry for his play during one-on-one blocking drills. Campbell used a swift spin move to blow by his defender and on his following rep employed a powerful bull rush to drive his opponent into the quarterback.  Today was Campbell's first day of spring practice, after Kiffin said last week that Campbell hadn't fulfilled all his responsibilities as a team member and would have to earn his way back onto the squad.

- Wright also had himself a busy day. During seven-on-five passing drills, the veteran cornerback made a nice read by stepping in front of his receiver to break up a pass, nearly intercepting the throw. Wright capped off his day - and practice - by intercepting a slant route and taking it back for a score. After practice, Kiffin noted the importance of Wright's leadership and experience in a young secondary.

- On the offensive side of the ball, tailback Allen Bradford continued to show why he might be harder to stop than an Amtrak train. Bradford broke free for three scores during seven-on-seven drills, bullying his way through would-be tacklers on his first score. The senior demonstrated his repertoire of moves on his next two trips to paydirt, using his speed to get through an off-tackle hole on his second touchdown and using a spin move to elude a defender for his third.

- Freshman Dillon Baxter, who enrolled early this semester, showed why he was one of the top recruits in the nation. Described as a tailback/wide receiver hybrid because of his athleticism, Baxter took a handoff during seven-on-seven drills for a solid gain thanks to a couple impressive juke moves. Baxter also exhibited his elusiveness during the full squad scrimmage on a screen play for positive yardage. "Dillon's got a chance to be pretty special," Kiffin said of the young talent after practice. 

- There were a number of notable former Trojans at practice, including Tim McDonald, Jim Hardy, Joe Cormier, Brent Parkinson, Tom Cox, Kyle Wachholtz, Martin French, Paul McDonald, Al Cowlings and Derek Graf.  Attending with Cowlings was former Los Angeles Rams defensive end and Hollywood actor Fred Dryer.  There were even a couple of ex-UCLA players--Wendell Tyer and Myke Horton--watching, but with good reason:  their sons play for the Trojans (Marc Tyler and Shane and Wes Horton).  Also at practice was former USC assistant coach (1966-68) Dick Coury, who went on to coach many years in the NFL.

- Signs were posted at the practice field, at Heritage Hall and on the path between the two that read:

USC AUTOGRAPH POLICY
All autographs MUST be personalized.
Autographing multiple items is NOT permitted.
Autographed items are for personal use and are NOT to be sold or auctioned.  To do so could be a violation of NCAA rules.
Thank you for your support and cooperation.

- The Trojans take Wednesday off and will return to the practice field on Thursday.

Photos from Tuesday's practice

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Mitch Mustain works on his throwing fundamentals


Houstonkick.JPGJoe Houston, a placekicker, tries his hand, or should we say foot, at punting



RoJoreturn.JPGRonald Johnson turns the ball upfield while working on his punt return game



puntblockdrill.JPGWide receiver Brice Butler and linebacker Jordan Campbell (on his first day out for spring drills) battle during a punt protection drill



Ogerondline.JPGDefensive line coach Ed Orgeron counsels three of his players



mustaintoprater.JPGQuarterback Mitch Mustain throws a short pass to wide receiver Kyle Prater during one-on-one wide receiver drills

Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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On a crystal clear Tuesday afternoon, the Trojans worked through their fourth practice of the spring and second in full pads. Some brief observations through the eyes of the RipsIt Blog...

- The first half of the day featured a significant dose of special teams work, with coach John Baxter running various drills with players of almost every position.

- Players then broke down by position and coaches spent more than the usual amount of time working on fundamentals with their specific squads.

- Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin ran drills with members of the secondary, while linebackers coach Joe Barry had his players execute directional drills.

- The defense stole the spotlight for the second straight practice, receiving praise from head coach Lane Kiffin and capping off the two-and-a-half hour practice with a pick-six by Shareece Wright during the full squad scrimmage.

Stay tuned for a few photos from today and a more in-depth report on some individual players.

Trojan to Trojan on NFL Draft prep

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Clay Matthews, a 2009 NFL draft first round selection of the Green Bay Packers, and potential 2010 first rounder Taylor Mays talk here about preparing for the draft with a fellow Trojan, former Women of Troy volleyballer Kelli Tenant.

Tommy Awards tonight

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The fifth annual Tommy Awards, a ceremony planned by members of USC's Student-Athlete Advisory Council (S.A.A.C.) to honor Trojan student-athletes for their many accomplishments in the 2009 calendar year, will be held this evening in the Founder's Room at the Galen Center.

The award categories include:

Best Individual Single Day Performance
Best Comeback
Best Record Breaking Performance
Best Athlete
Best Team of the Year
Trojan of the Year
Coach of the Year
Staff Member of the Year

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Paint job

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The weight room in the basement of Heritage Hall has a slightly new look to it.  The previously-white columns have been painted either cardinal or gold to add a stronger visual look to the facility.  Check it out.

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Lull before the storm

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All is quiet inside Heritage Hall, where players are expected to file in shortly for their second week of Spring ball. Here are some photos a few hours before the fourth practice of the year.

Following the conclusion of the 4 p.m. practice, check back for plenty of news, notes and pictures from the USCRipsIt blog.

Thumbnail image for HPIM1087-1.jpgSean Bell, one of the team managers, gathers equipment for today's practice



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The empty locker hallway will soon be filled with players collecting their gear



Thumbnail image for HPIM1103.jpgThe team meeting room where players and coaches will gather at 2:30 to discuss the upcoming practice and week ahead



HPIM1096.jpgThe offensive line meeting room sits waiting for Coach Cregg and his troops



Thumbnail image for HPIM1101-1.jpgThe trainer's room awaits the arrival of players for stretching, taping and other pre-practice physical preparation


HPIM1091.jpgThere's a familiar face! Hebron Fangupo grabs some of his practice gear in the equipment room

Crosstown Gauntlet update

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If you're wondering about the score of this year's Crosstown Gauntlet (the all-sports competition between USC and UCLA), the Trojans hold a 42.5 to 35 lead over the Bruins after Saturday's 3-set USC sweep in men's volleyball.

There are still 11 scheduled events remaining:  men's and women's tennis (April 16), women's water polo (April 17), women's golf (April 19-21 at the Pac-10s), men's golf (April 26-28 at the Pac-10s), women's rowing (May 1), men's and women's track (May 1) and baseball (May 14-16).

And that's not counting any possible unscheduled post-season meetings.

So stay tuned!

The team that scores at least 57.5 points wins year-long possession of the Crosstown Gauntlet.  The trophy has been on display in Heritage Hall the past 2 years.

Cooper, Buss named to Basketball Hall of Fame

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Cynthia Cooper, a guard on the Women of Troy's 1983 and 1984 NCAA championship teams, was named today to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

She joins Cheryl Miller, Sam Barry and Jack Gardner as Trojans in the Hall.

Also named to the 2010 Naismith class was Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who earned his master's and doctorate degrees at USC and then taught chemistry at the university.

Congratulations to both of them on this prestigious accomplishment.

O'Dowd looking to lead the way for O-line

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After starting 7 games last season, center Kris O'Dowd is hoping that a healthier 2010 will allow him to play at full potential.

Entering his final spring practice, O'Dowd leads a young offensive line that, suffice it to say, probably has equally high hopes for a successful ending to the senior's lauded college career.

ESPN Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller wrote a nice piece about O'Dowd's recovery process and his goals for his final season as a Trojan. Click here to read the full article.

HBO loves its Trojan pros

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HBO announced on March 25 that the New York Jets would be the star of its popular program, "Hard Knocks." For the second straight year, the show will chronicle the training camp of a team led by a USC quarterback.

Mark Sanchez enters his second campaign as the Jets' playcaller after leading the team to the AFC Championship game last year. Sanchez follows in the footsteps of quarterback Carson Palmer, who was featured in the HBO spotlight last year when the Cincinnati Bengals were the subject of the show.

Former Trojans Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga and Frostee Rucker also appeared on the show last year with the Bengals.

HBO has yet to set a date for this season's "Hard Knocks" premiere.

Mark your calendars

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A few quick reminders regarding football-related events around campus...

- The team continues its Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday practice routine this week. Practices begin at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday and 11 a.m. on Saturday.

- Swim With Mike, the annual fundraiser for USC's Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund, celebrates its 30th anniversary on April 17. To learn more about the event or get involved with the program go to SwimWithMike.org.

- The USC Spring Football Game takes place at noon on May 1 in the Coliseum. The intrasquad scrimmage is open to the public and tickets can be purchased here.

Marinelli's perspective

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Current Chicago Bear defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who was the Detroit Lions' head coach from 2006 to 2008, visited USC practice last Thursday and liked what he saw.

He had an interesting perspective because he not only was the Trojans' defensive line coach in the 1995 Rose Bowl championship season, but he is the father-in-law of new USC linebackers coach Joe Barry.  Barry, who played at USC in 1992 and 1993, is married to Marinelli's daughter, Chris.

"Rod absolutely loved watching practice on Thursday," said Barry.  "He was excited about what he saw.  He loved our tempo.  He said it was like an NFL practice, with the tempo and the speed.

"He also said he thinks we have a chance to be a really good team."

Weekend recap

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Several USC teams were in action this past weekend, tallying some W's for the Cardinal and Gold.

- The No. 6-ranked men's volleyball racked up a pair of wins against ranked opponents. First, after trailing 2-1 against No. 11 UC Irvine, the team rallied behind a career-high 28 kills by Tony Ciarelli to come away with the win.

On Saturday, the team took down rival No. 7 UCLA on Saturday in a three-set sweep at the Galen Center to improve to 13-9. Murphy Troy led the charge with 18 kills and the victory extended the Trojans' lead over UCLA in the Crosstown Gauntlet competition to 7.5 points at 42.5-35. The team travels to Pacific for its next game on Friday April 9.

- The No. 4-ranked men's tennis team tallied a 6-1 victory against visiting No. 17 California this past Saturday. Freshman JT Sundling clinched the match with his singles victory in straight sets of 6-4 and 6-2. The team faces Arizona this weekend in Tucson for its next match on Saturday April 10.

- Top-ranked women's water polo cruised past No. 19 Cal State Bakersfield and No. 10 Cal State Northridge by scores of 18-4 and 18-6, respectively, on Saturday. The No. 1-ranked Women of Troy extended their overall record to 17-1 with help from Joelle Bekhazi, who scored four goals in both games of the doubleheader. Next up for the team is a trip to Tempe,  where the team will take on Arizona State on April 10.

Nike Coach of the Year Clinic approaching

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It's not too late to sign up for this year's Nike Coach of the Year Clinic, which takes place this Nikecampkiffin.jpgupcoming weekend (April 9-10).

High school and junior college coaches (and even casual fans who just want tolearn a thing or two from Head Coach Lane Kiffin and his staff) can register at CampKiffin.com. Head Coaches Chip Kelly of Oregon and Tim Murphy of Harvard will also be speaking at the camp.

For all additional information about the camp, including hotel registration, click here.





Cushing enjoying a different offseason regimen

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Former Trojan and current Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing is no stranger to fitness. 

Seriously, the man is a flat-out beast

Cush's appearance at practice yesterday - looking exceptionally fit as usual - was no coincidence. Apparently he's been honing his mental fitness by taking classes at USC while staying in NFL-shape by partaking in mixed martial arts training with various UFC professionals. To read more about Cushing's new offseason agenda, check out this article from the Texans' site.

Saturday practice photo slideshow

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Here are a few additional photos from Saturday's spring practice taken by USC Staff Photographer Pierson Clair for your viewing pleasure.


Dispatch from Howard Jones Field (update)

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A few more observations from Saturday's practice:

- To the relief of many, center Kristofer O'Dowd returned to practice after suffering a mild knee sprain on Thursday.

- In addition to Everson Griffen, Anthony McCoy and Brian Cushing, several other Trojan alums were in attendance for today's practice. Those included were offensive tackle Pat Harlow, tailback Mazio Royster, center Brad Leggett, linebacker Ryan Tyiska and wide receiver Curtis Conway.

- A dozen walk-on players returned to practice with the teamafter Tuesday's tryout. In a five-on-five tailback drill today, one of those walk-ons, 5-11 cornerback Cody Romness, earned the attention and praise of his teammates and spectators. Romness made three consecutive defensive stops on opposing running backs, including an impressive takedown of the not-so-easily corralled Allen Bradford.

- For the second straight practice, Fresno State head coach Pat Hill observed the work of some of his former co-workers. USC head coach Lane Kiffin played under Hill at Fresno State before joining the Bulldog staff as a student assistant coach.  Hill also coached with new USC special teams coach John Baxter last year at Fresno State.

- For NCAA compliance reasons, spectators at practice this year are being kept on the east side of the field.  Only recruits are allowed on the west side of the field and between Jones and Kennedy Fields.

Photos from Saturday's practice

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0403shoematecatch.JPGDJ Shoemate hauls in a pass on a go route



0403Tupou.JPGChristian Tupou runs through some defensive line handwork and footspeed drills



0403Prater.JPGWide receiver Kyle Prater jockeys for position on a fade route against corner Daniel Harper



0403Butlerblock.JPGBrice Butler blocks against a defensive back during a screen drill



0403RoJo.JPGRonald Johnson lines up during the full squad scrimmage



0403Griffenwatch.JPGEverson Griffen visits Howard Jones Field to take in the action

Dispatch from Howard Jones Field

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The Trojans' first spring practice in full pads today invoked heavy doses of physical play, which drew plenty of "oohs" and "aahs" from the large turnout of spectators. On a near-perfect sunny Saturday afternoon, Head Coach Lane Kiffin pushed his squad through what he described as a "very physical, very long practice." Practice lasted two and a half hours. A few highlights from the Trojans third spring practice of the year...

- Junior tailback Allen Bradford, typically known for his punishing style of play with the ball in his hands, demonstrated his ability to deliver big hits as a blocker as well. During a drill where Bradford was assigned to protect the punter, he not only succeeded in blocking his opponent, but pile-driving him into the ground.

- Freshman Kyle Prater just might have suction cups on his hands. The wideout who enrolled early this past semester reeled in a one-handed, outstretched grab on a post-route pass from freshman quarterback Matt Barkley, and later hauled in a fade route with his arms extended over the top of a defender.

- Junior tailback CJ Gable had little trouble finding paydirt, as he scored three times in full squad drills from 5, 10 and 30 yards. Gable also made a nice adjustment on a tipped pass from Barkley, snagging the ball and turning the play into a 50-yard gain with a few jukes and evasive moves. His play certainly grabbed the attention of his head coach, who expressed that he was "excited" about the tailback's performance.

- Recent Trojans Everson Griffen, Anthony McCoy and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing stopped by to watch practice.

- The first day of padded practice often comes with its normal amount of bumps and bruises. Among the players nicked today were safety Marshall Jones (neck), offensive tackles Martin Coleman (ankle), Matt Kalil (hip) and Kevin Graf (ankle), defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo (ankle), fullbacks DJ Shoemate (hamstring) and Stanley Havili (shoulder), tailback Dillon Baxter (quad), and linebacker Marquis Simmons (neck). Kiffin noted that it would benefit the team "to be able to work through injuries."

The Trojans resume their practice schedule on Tuesday, keeping with the Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday agenda.

A brief introduction

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Good morning, RipsIt Blog readers!

Now that Ben Malcolmson and his incredible talent has moved on to the Seattle Seahawks, and while the USC athletic department is diligently searching for his permanent replacement, this blog will continue with some pinch-hitters covering spring football.

I'm one of them...and appropriately, my name also is Ben.  Ben Weiss.  I'm a junior public relations major at USC who hails from the east coast.  I've been around the football program through my internship with the USC sports information office.  I know I'm not Ben Malcolmson (heck, nobody is!), but I'll do my best to fill in temporarily and keep the loyal USCRipsIt readers informed about the happenings surrounding the Trojan football program.

We're also working on getting a couple guests to share their perspectives on a periodic basis.

I'll be back after this morning's practice--the first day in full pads--with a report.

Signing off

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Thank you for the three years of support and memories, as this marks my final RipsIt Blog entry and last day at USCRipsIt.

Officials are in the process of hiring a new full-time staffer to run the Blog, but Ben Weiss, a USC student who works in the athletic department, will take over in the interim, starting Saturday.

Thanks to everyone once again for your support over the years, especially the love you expressed in my farewell entry earlier this week. I will cherish the people here and this place forever -- thank you for making it so special. Fight on!

Competing for the rock

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Check out this video feature on tailbacks Allen Bradford and C.J. Gable, brought to you by Mark Haas of USCTrojans.com.

Surviving the spring

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USC is renowned for its connections with pop culture.

This spring, the Trojans are doing it yet again, as they're turning special teams drills into a game of "Survivor." Read all about it in this feature from the O.C. Register.

Wrapping up the week

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The Trojans will wrap up their first week of Spring Practice 2010 on Saturday when they take to Howard Jones Field for a full-pads workout starting at 11 a.m.

Here's a look at the full practice schedule, and be sure to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Spring Game at the Coliseum.

From the Desk of the A.D.

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The fourth in an occasional series, "From the Desk of the A.D." allows you to hear directly from USC athletic director Mike Garrett, who gives you his thoughts on several topical and hot-button subjects for the Trojans and college sports. 


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By Mike Garrett
USC Athletic Director



It's hard to believe that graduation at USC is only six weeks away because there is still so much on the docket for our spring sports teams. This is an exciting time of year for us; seemingly every day some Trojan team is in competition. Some thoughts:
 
  • The Lane Kiffin era of USC football has gotten under way with the start of spring practice this week. I'm looking forward to watching our team develop over these next few weeks. I've always believed that spring ball is crucial to building the foundation of a team. Although Coach Kiffin and his staff are in their first year here and have some building to do, the fact that he and some of his coaches have been here before has dramatically helped in the transition. Practice has just started, but I've already heard positive early reports from the players. They like the way they are being coached. It was especially heartening to hear them mention the staff's emphasis on discipline and detail.

  • Earlier this week, we announced a policy for those who want to attend football practice. All of us at USC understand that these new guidelines might seem inconvenient to you (i.e. calling in 24 hours prior for approval), but I thank you in advance for following them. This policy was enacted in the best interests of the program and our players, and we know that those who truly care about USC will understand and be supportive. Bottom line, we want to make sure that we know who is attending our practices. The other day, I was talking to someone about our new system and they used this analogy: air travel has become a bit more inconvenient in recent years because of all the procedures people now must go through at airports, but those procedures were put in place for a reason and people still do travel on airplanes. People will still be able to watch our practices, but the way we manage that has been adjusted.

  • Speaking of football, 2010 season tickets go on sale on April 7 at USCTrojans.com. We have a very appealing -- and challenging -- home schedule: Virginia, Washington, California, Oregon, Arizona State and Notre Dame. And, if you want a sneak peak of the 2010 Trojans in action, don't forget to also buy your tickets to the Spring Football Game on May 1 in the Coliseum. That's always a fun event.

  • Do you want to know the real reason I love the spring sports season? Because it gives me a chance to get out of the office more often than normal and do what I love doing the most: watching our teams compete. One day, I might be out at Marks Stadium watching tennis, the next day at Dedeaux Field for a baseball game, then the next at McDonald's Swim Stadium cheering on the water polo team. I'd love to have you join me. We have 19 teams at USC -- maybe some sports that you've never seen in person before -- and they all compete at high levels. There's no doubt that college sports offer the best entertainment value around.

You can follow Mike Garrett on Twitter here.

Pictures from Thursday's practice

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Kicker Joe Houston gets some individual work in.

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Matt Barkley rolls out during team run period.

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Mitch Mustain throws to the left during 7-on-7 drills.

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Defensive lineman Nick Perry closes in on quarterback Brett Kan during linemen drills.

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Matt Barkley watches his deep ball soar downfield.

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Mitch Mustain gets off a short screen pass to tailback Marc Tyler during team period.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Thursday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- USC's second practice of the spring was chock full of highlight plays, as the Trojans sped through a no-pads workout on a chilly afternoon on Howard Jones Field. On the final play of the high-energy practice, Matt Barkley connected with wideout De'Von Flournoy on a pretty fade route in the end zone. Even with the bevy of primetime plays, Coach Lane Kiffin pressed for more from his team. "The effort's there, now we have to focus on the little things," Kiffin told his players afterward.

- Kiffin called wideout Ronald Johnson the MVP of the first two days of Spring Practice, as he produced a couple more big-time catches on Thursday. His highlight of the day came during 7-on-7 drills when he soared up and yanked the pass away from a pursuing cornerback for a long catch. He followed that up with a one-handed grab while streaking over the middle during team period.

- Center Kristofer O'Dowd suffered a knee injury during a rushing-focused period, though Kiffin did not have specifics on the injury. "Obviously we know it's his knee, but we don't know anymore than that," he said.

- Defensive lineman DaJohn Harris turned in the play of the team period when he batted a pass up at the line, ran under it for the interception and rumbled upfield for a surprisingly agile return.

- During team run period, tailback Allen Bradford produced a long shifty run that included a vicious stiff arm, putting the defensive back on the ground and inciting a near riot from his jubilant offensive teammates.

- Center Michael Reardon injured his neck in an ATV accident over the weekend and could be out "for a while," Kiffin said. Reardon watched practice with a neck brace on.

- Offensive lineman Zack Heberer sat out with an ankle injury suffered in Tuesday's practice.

- Longtime Fresno State head coach Pat Hill attended the workout.

- Alumni Jeff Byers, Charles Brown and Everson Griffen were in attendance.

- The Trojans' next practice will be a full-pads affair on Saturday at 11 a.m.

More than just talk

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It appears that Coach Lane Kiffin is more than a football coach.

He could also be classified as a poet.

"It's how you play, not what you say," Kiffin told his players during the team meeting this afternoon, highlighting the team's spring emphases of toughness and discipline. "We don't need to hear about it. Just show it in your play."

The Trojans have a chance to do just that this afternoon, as they are now taking the field for the second practice of the spring. We'll return with a report after the no-pads workout.

Going to the tape

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During this afternoon's team meeting in Heritage Auditorium, Coach Lane Kiffin leads his players through video highlights from Tuesday's opening practice of the spring.

Coach O and the Band

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Check out this entertaining promo video -- featuring defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron -- for the 40th anniversary celebration for Trojan Marching Band director Arthur Bartner. Buy your tickets to the May 1 gala here.

McGinest honored

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Willie McGinest has been named to the New England Patriots 2000s All-Decade Team by the franchise. McGinest, a former USC All-American, played on all three of the Patriots' Super Bowl-winning squads in the decade.

Spring Game set for noon on May 1

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USC's Spring Game, formerly known as the Trojan Huddle, will kick off at noon on May 1 at the Coliseum. Purchase your tickets here.

Second day

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Day 2 of Spring Practice 2010 is on the docket this afternoon, with the normal segment of meetings starting at 2:15 prior to a full-pads practice at 4 p.m. Here's a look at the schedule for the afternoon:

2:15 p.m. • Special teams meeting
2:35 p.m. • Team meeting
2:45 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
3 p.m. • Position meetings
3:45 p.m. • On the field
4 p.m. • Practice #2 begins