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April 2011 Archives

McNair Appeal

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Former USC running backs coach Todd McNair had his appeal denied today by the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee.

Click here for the official NCAA statement.

To be clear, this ruling is separate from USC's pending appeal of its NCAA sanctions.  Per the NCAA release, "This appeal decision is separate from the university's appeal, which has not yet been decided."


Top Seeds

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USC men's and women's tennis have descended upon Ojai for the Pac-10 individual championships with Steve Johnson and Maria Sanchez as the men's and women's singles favorites. 

Five Trojans advanced to the quarterfinals with wins yesterday by Johnson, Emilio Gomez, Ray Sarmiento on the men's side and Sanchez and Kaitlyn Christian in the women's bracket.

Johnson is the prohibitive favorite as he's playing the best tennis of his acclaimed USC career.  Click here for a great profile on the junior written by Michael Lev for the OC Register.

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MVB Finals - USC vs. UCSB

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The #1 men's volleyball team bounced UCI in four sets from the MPSF tournament semifinals last night and will now host UCSB in the championship match on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at Galen Center.

Click here for the full story!

You can purchase tickets at the Galen box office or watch it LIVE for FREE on USCTrojans.com if you cannot attend.

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(Photo by Dan Avila)



Track Spotlight: Angela Williams

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Before we get to the only athlete ever to win the 100 meters at NCAA's in four consecutive seasons, here's some pertinent information for those attending Sunday's USC vs. UCLA dual meet.

Date: Sunday, May 1

Time: 11 a.m. (first event)

Tickets: $10 (available at the gate)

Parking: Structure A (enter off Vermont), Structure B (enter off eastbound Jefferson) and Lot 1 (enter off vermont or eastbound Jefferson)

Note: Please arrive early due to the LA Times Festival of Books which will be held all weekend on campus.

And now without further adieu, here is the unmistakable energy of USC track Hall of Famer Angela Williams...

   



Prime Ticket Tease

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Our friends at Prime Ticket raised their coverage to another level this spring as they went inside the team meetings, mic'd up coaches on the practice field and captured the essence of Trojan football.

Here's a look at a couple teasers for Saturday's "Lane Kiffin USC Football Weekly" spring special, which will debut on Prime Ticket at 10:30 p.m. pacific.







Texas Tyron

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Trojan offensive tackle Tyron Smith was selected #9 overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Draft Thursday night.

He becomes the 75th first round pick in USC history, which is more than any other college.

Always underrated and understated, Smith was a pillar of the offensive line protecting Matt Barkley from his right tackle spot.  He is expected to move to left tackle and cover Tony Romo's blind spot in Big D.

Here's the coaches' film on Tyron Smith...




Track Spotlight: Quincy Watts

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With Sunday's dual meet coming up, we checked in with Trojan great Quincy Watts to understand the importance of racing against UCLA, the punishing 400 meters and the thrill of winning Olympic gold.

   



Trojan Horses

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With the USC/UCLA dual meet coming up Sunday at Troy, the Trojans and Bruins paid tribute to past greats at yesterday's Hall of Fame luncheon.

You can watch the USC vs. UCLA track meet by clicking this link on Sunday, May 1.

angela-williams.jpgThe "Trojan Horse" Quincy Watts led the 10-athlete class alongside his legendary coach Jim Bush and 4-time 100 meter NCAA champion Angela Williams (photo).

At Bush's urging, Watts switched from a short sprinter to the 400 meters, which is the distance at which he would take home Olympic gold at the 1992 games.  Williams was the only athlete ever to win the 100 at nationals in all four collegiate seasons.

Also inducted into the dual meet Hall of Fame, Felix Sanchez, Jack Davis and Ryan Wilson went in together as a trio of Trojan hurdlers. 

Click here for the full story!

Click play to watch Watts dust the field in Barcelona...



The Daughters of Heritage Hall

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In the annals of USC women's basketball history, Karleen Shields went down as a quality starting guard on the dynamic mid-90s teams, which featured stars Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson. 

Shields-Girls.jpgHowever, fans and friends inside the Women of Troy program will never forget Shields as a single mother raising two young daughters, Ayesha and Keisha, while balancing her life on and off the court.

During those times, Karleen's girls were fixtures around Heritage Hall as the athletic department staff in the women's hoops' office, sports information and others happily took turns babysitting as mom crafted her jump shot in the South Gym.  Ayesha and Keisha never missed a game and delighted the fans and media in attendance.

The latest chapter in their incredible story of mother and daughters will be written Saturday, May 7 (the day before Mother's Day), when the girls, now young women, graduate from Xavier University.  Ayesha will receive her bachelor's degree in English with a creative writing minor, while Keisha's degree is in business management.

As for mom, Karleen Shields Thompson went on to become the head coach of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks and Houston Comets and now is an assistant coach at Clemson.

Fight on Ayesha (left) and Keisha (right)!
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Spring Special

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As promised, PRIME TICKET will debut the USC Spring Football Special this Saturday, April 30, at 10:30 p.m..

The Fox Sports crew has been documenting spring practice from all angles, including their innovative point-of-view cameras (pictured below by Pierson Clair), which they have teased in short previews.

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Gift Wrap

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USC president C.L. Max Nikias continued his exceptional fundraising run today as he announced a $110 million gift from Julie and John Mork and their family.

The extremely generous donation will set up the USC Mork Family Scholars Program, which is the largest gift for student scholarships in school history.

Click the link for the full story!
Mork.Gift.pdf

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Spring Depth Chart

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Lane Kiffin released the end of spring depth chart today.  The head coach told the media that the coaches will take little to no stock in the spring depth chart, so there is plenty to be decided in fall camp.

Click to download the depth chart!
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Of note though...

Khaled Holmes is listed as the starting center.  He played guard last season.

Curtis McNeal and D.J. Morgan have pulled even with Marc Tyler and Dillon Baxter at running back.

George Uko is listed as the starter at defensive tackle next to Christian Tupou and ahead of DaJohn Harris.

Marquis Simmons and Dion Bailey are battling for a starting spot at strong side linebacker.

Marshall Jones is in the lead at safety next to T.J. McDonald. 

Matt Barkley will be the primary holder on field goals and extra points.


Kiffin on Gameday Bus

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Lane Kiffin made the ESPN rounds today as the Gameday bus parked on campus. 

You can watch interviews with USC football's head coach on SportsCenter, College Football Live and ESPNU.

Here's a look at the bus and the mobile set inside...

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Trojan Baby

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Former USC baseball star Ian Kennedy and Women of Troy hoopster Allison Jaskowiak Kennedy have added Nora Rose Kennedy to the Trojan Family.

Kennedy-Baby.jpgThe Kennedy's will have quite a story to tell baby Nora about her birthday. 

Allison delivered the newest Trojan on Easter Sunday and then Ian took the mound the next night for the Arizona Diamondbacks and tossed the first complete game shutout of his career.

"To do that, I get really emotional when I start thinking about it being the day after she was born," said Kennedy, who struck out 10 and didn't walk a batter. "I did it for my little Easter baby and for my wife who did it all.  She's a champ."

While that story is cool, this stat is even crazier.  Baby Nora was born at 2:04 a.m. on Sunday and Kennedy finished off the Phillies in exactly two hours and four minutes.

"I can't describe it to someone that's never experienced it," he said. "Some people didn't know if I would be ready to pitch today, but I knew I could do it."

The Trojans were married in 2007.
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Coaches Tour Dates

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Lane Kiffin and Kevin O'Neill are coming to a city near you!

The annual coaches tour will hit six California cities this May and June as the head football and men's basketball coaches provide guests the inside scoop on the state of their programs.

Thumbnail image for Kiffin-KO.JPGClick the link to view your invitation! 
2011 Coaches Tour Invite.pdf

Here are the dates and cities:


Monday, May 16 - Irvine

Wednesday, May 18 - San Diego

Monday, May 23 - San Francisco

Wednesday, May 25 - Pasadena

Wednesday, June 1 - Manhattan Beach

Friday, June 3 - Indian Wells


Spring Highlights

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The spring game was marked by long runs from all three tailbacks (Dillon Baxter, D.J. Morgan and Curtis McNeal) and three interceptions by the ball-hawking defense.

For those of you who could not be one of the 16,000+ in attendance, we cut together a highlight reel of the runs, picks and tricks.




Track and Field Presser

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We are streaming LIVE on USCTrojans.com today's USC vs. UCLA dual meet press conference and Hall of Fame luncheon from Varsity Lounge at Heritage Hall, which will feature the coaches, student-athletes and past great champions.

Click here to watch the live stream kicking off at Noon!

The big meet will be broadcast LIVE on USCTrojans.com this Sunday (May 1) from Cromwell Field and the Loker Track Stadium.

USC's swept the dual meet in back-to-back seasons.
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Morning Papers (4/26/11)

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Spring football comes to an end...





Blog Background

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Until fall football camp begins, we've swapped out the blog background to pay tribute to our diversity of athletic talent.

Here is the complete image as constructed by John McGillen...

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Gauntlet Clinched!

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With close out wins from men's volleyball and men's tennis, USC clinched the Gauntlet over crosstown rivals UCLA for a record fourth straight time.

The Trojans have dominated the Bruins all school year to the tune of 62.5 points earned to UCLA's 27.5.  USC has won 17 of the 25 head-to-head regular season meetings.

With only five events remaining, the Gauntlet is safe and secure in a Heritage Hall trophy case.

The Trojans were too much for UCLA in 2010-11.
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(Photo by Jon SooHoo)



Undefeated Champs

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The #3 USC men's tennis team outdueled UCLA in a classic Westwood battle to finish off an undefeated Pac-10 season as conference champions.

Steve Johnson, the #1 player in the nation, set the tone by dusting the Bruins' best Daniel Kosakowski (6-4, 6-1) to go along with singles' points from Ray Sarmiento and Emilio Gomez.

The doubles' point turned out to be the difference in USC's 4-3 win.

"It was all that this rivalry is and should be," USC head coach Peter Smith said.  "It was an incredible atmosphere with a conference championship on the line. To have our two freshmen come through says a lot about who they are as competitors."

Click here for the full story!

Next up: The Trojans compete individually in the Pac-10 Championships this weekend in Ojai.

Johnson is the nation's best!
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Bye Bye Bruins

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#1 USC men's volleyball ended UCLA's season by knocking them out of the MPSF tournament in four sets en route to their fifth straight win over their crosstown rivals.

The Trojans advanced to the semifinals with the win and will take on UC-Irvine Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Galen Center.  If they win, they'll move onto a Saturday final also at home.

Click here for the full game story!

For those fans of electronic music, you'll enjoy this hype video made for the men's volleyball team before their battle against the Bruins.




Barkley in Context

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As with the whole of the offense, Matt Barkley's spring game is nearly impossible to judge fairly given the circumstances.  Statistically, the junior completed 22 of 42 passes for 212 yards, including two interceptions and no touchdowns.

Barkley-Spring-McG.JPG"I think it's hard to evaluate," Lane Kiffin said about Barkley's day.  "You guys probably had to go to your rosters a lot to see who was running routes for him."

He spent most of the day throwing outs, slants and fades to De'Von Flournoy, Markeith Ambles and Robbie Boyer.  In the fall, he expects to exploit the talents of Robert Woods, Kyle Prater and George Farmer.

Woods and Prater shared the recruiting crown as the best receiving prospect in the country coming out of high school.  Farmer can stake a claim to that same mythical title for this incoming class.

"You've got to deal with what you have and that's what we've been doing for the past year," Barkley said.  "I can't wait to have [Woods] and Kyle and George and Carswell was out.  I can't wait to have all those guys back."




Speech!

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The Trojans were motivated by three dignitaries in the pre-game locker room.

The offense received locker room speeches from legendary head coach John Robinson and Heisman winning QB Matt Leinart, while the defense was pumped up by Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Cassel.

Offense...



Defense...




Photo Gallery: 2011 Spring Game

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We'll have some video highlights cut for you Monday of the big plays, but here's a look at all the action through the lens of John McGillen.




6-Points: Spring Game

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Scroll down to the next post for all the stats...

  • How do you put the USC offense on display today in context?  Matt Kalil is the only offensive lineman with any experience.  Marc Tyler (concussion) and Robert Woods (ankle) sat out with injuries.  Rhett Ellison (back) and Brandon Carswell (concussion symptoms) were knocked out early.  The list goes on and on...  "We've got a lot of work to do on offense," Lane Kiffin said.  "It is really hard to address where we're at and figure it out."
  • Trojan-Helmets.JPGWhile the passing offense never hit top gear, Curtis McNeal, D.J. Morgan and Dillon Baxter showed an explosiveness in the run game that was largely missing last season.  McNeal accounted for two scores while amassing over 100 yards on the ground.  "I just matured," McNeal talked about his breakout spring.  "I know I can do what I can do on the football field.  I just have to step my game up in the classroom and that's what I did this spring."
  • Markeith Ambles finished a Jekyll & Hyde spring on a positive note.  While he has frustrated the coaching staff by showing up late to practice and missing a scrimmage entirely, he's undoubtedly a talented target, which he exhibited again today.  "It's good to see Markeith bounce back from a bad start and really a bad spring in general to make some plays," the head coach said.
  • The pass defense littered the stat sheet with three interceptions and several sacks led by Nick Perry coming off the edge.  He is the most natural pass rusher on the team, so his health is vital to the unit's success.  "I want have the leading sack total," Perry has made his fall goals clear this spring.  "I'm ready to get better and get after it this fall."
  • The linebackers were credited by both Kiffins as the most improved group this spring.  Given that the presumed starters did not take a single rep, the young corps showed great growth highlighted by Hayes Pullard, Dion Bailey and Marquis Simmons.  "I see us playing faster," Monte Kiffin said about the defense.  "These guys have really been a pleasant surprise."
  • The play of the day was drawn in the sand by Lane Kiffin.  On the final snap, Baxter hit Matt Barkley on a half back pass to close the game in style.  "We practiced that zero," Barkley explained.  "In the huddle, Kiff just said, 'Let's do this.'"
Extra point...

  • True freshman kicker Andre Heidari split the uprights on just one of three field goal attempts.  He made from 27, but missed from 40+ and 50+.  "He's supposed to be a senior in high school, so we're working with him," said Kiffin about Heidari. 
We'll have Matt Barkley's post-game comments later, but here is the head coach...




Spring Game: Defense 42, Offense 29

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Attendance: 16,850

Total Plays: 121

Here are the relevant individual game stats...

Quarterbacks

Matt Barkley - 22/42 for 212 yards and 2 INTs
Jesse Scroggins - 6/15 for 68 yards and 1 INT

Running Backs

D.J. Morgan - 14 carries for 89 yards
Curtis McNeal - 13 carries for 107 yards and 2 TDs
Dillon Baxter - 14 carries for 104 yards and 1 TD (Also 1 pass TD)

Receivers

Xavier Grimble - 8 catches for 73 yards
Markeith Ambles - 6 catches for 76 yards
De'Von Flournoy - 5 catches for 62 yards
Robbie Boyer - 6 catches for 51 yards

Defense

Jawanza Starling - 9 tackles (1 for loss), 1 PD
Dallas Kelley - 8 tackles, 1 INT
Hayes Pullard - 7 tackles (1 for loss)
Nick Perry - 6 tackles (2 sacks)
DaJohn Harris - 5 tackles (2 for loss)
Brian Baucham - 1 INT
Anthony Brown - 1 INT

Scoring

McNeal 49-yard TD run (Heidari PAT)
McNeal 11-yard TD run
Heidari 27-yard FG
Baxter 8-yard TD run
Baxter 3-yard pass to Barkely (Heidari PAT)


Spring Game Chat: Join Now!

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Click to enter as we're taking you through the Spring Game with live play-by-play and commentary!!!




Live Chat: Spring Game

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The USC spring game begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Coliseum with the doors opening at Noon.

Tickets are $10.  Students and kids 12 and under are in FREE.

If you cannot make it to the game, join us on our LIVE CHAT right here on the blog or follow us on Twitter (@USC_Athletics).

Talented Transfer

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USC men's basketball officially welcomed Wake Forest transfer Ari Stewart to the program today, but he will not be eligible until the 2012-13 season.

ari-stewart.jpgThe former top 50 recruit will have two seasons remaining when he first dons the Trojan uniform after sitting out this year, while pushing the team in practice.

"We are really excited about Ari joining us," said head coach Kevin O'Neill. "He is going to have a great year of development during his redshirt year and is going to be a great contributor to our success once he becomes available. He has a tremendous upside as a player and I'm convinced he can raise us to another level."

The 6'7" forward averaged 8.5 ppg and 4.4 rpg last season for the Demon Deacons.

Click here for the full story!


Vern Walck Passes

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Former USC head equipment manager Vern Walck died after a long illness earlier this week at the age of 70.

Walck was the Trojan equipment man from 1984 to 1990, which included four Rose Bowl runs, and trained current staff members Greg Allen and Jim "Hammer" Davis before passing the torch to Dino Dennis. 

He was married to Vesta Walck for 50 years and was well liked by all around Heritage Hall.

His memorial service will be held in Bakersfield at 1 p.m. on April 27.


Dream Team

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The All-MPSF men's volleyball team reads a whole lot like the #1 Trojans roster with Murphy Troy taking home top honors as the conference player of the year, while Bill Ferguson was named coach of the year.

The All-MPSF First Team features three USC student-athletes with Riley McKibbin and Tony Ciarelli joining Troy on the top squad. 

Steven Shandrick and Tri Bourne collected second team honors, while Austin Zahn and Henry Cassiday were named honorable mention.  Cassiday was also listed on the All-Freshman team.

The All-Star Trojans begin their postseason run tomorrow night at 7 p.m. against crosstown rivals UCLA in the quarterfinals of the MPSF tournament.

Player of the Year Murphy Troy
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Project Trojan: Spring Ball

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As spring football winds down, SC TV goes behind-the-scenes to check in with team leaders Matt Barkley and T.J. McDonald on their budding rivalry and friendship.

Plus, we have the exclusive batting practice footage, Mark Sanchez with the team and several mic'd up segments.

Check out the new Project Trojan below!  It's FREE!!

   


Women's Hoops Banquet

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The USC women's basketball program celebrated the 2010-11 season last night at their annual banquet. 

Under Michael Cooper's leadership, the program is clearly on the rise with almost the entire core returning and the #8 recruiting class in the nation.

Here are last night's award winners and the highlight video...

Barbara Williams Academic Award -- Kari LaPlante

Trojan Spirit Award -- Christina Marinacci

Freshman of the Year -- Cassie Harberts

Team MVP -- Briana Gilbreath

Click here to watch the highlight video!

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Backs Give Back

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As they await their fate in next week's NFL Draft, outgoing USC running backs Allen Bradford and C.J. Gable are spending time giving back to their community.

Here's a look at the day they spent with the Venice Boys and Girls Club...




Women's Lax Camp

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USC will host the first ever Munday Lacrosse Camps this summer from June 14-16 and then a youth camp on June 17.

This is a great opportunity to get hands on instruction from NCAA champion Lindsey Munday, the head coach of Trojan women's lacrosse.

Click the link for more information!
2011 Munday Lacrosse Camp Brochure.pdf

Click here to sign up!

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Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #14

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The team practiced without pads today as they saved themselves for what should be a physical spring game Saturday.

Here's a look at the final spring practice courtesy of John McGillen...




Spring Practice #14: Notes

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Spring practice comes to an end with only Saturday's game to go...

  • With the big game coming up, the practice field had a few more bodies on it today.  Running backs Dillon Baxter and Marc Tyler participated.  WR Kyle Prater was cleared to run through drills, but will not play this Saturday.  Defensive backs Demetrius Wright and Tony Burnett should be good to go at the Coliseum.
  • While Prater needs to prove he can stay healthy, his presence in the USC offense will literally be massive this fall.  Physically, he is unparalleled in the receiving corps.  "I was blessed with my size and my ability," said the 6'5" Prater.  "That's something that separates me from other receivers."
  • Tyler has been taking concussion tests for the last two weeks.  He was pretty funny today talking about the test, which he finally passed so he can practice.  "I didn't pass it a few times," he said.  "They would give you a list of five words and then you'd go through the whole test and ask you to say the five words again at the end and I'd have no clue what they were.  That test is hard even if you didn't have a concussion!"
  • The big running back had a great take on freshman FB Soma Vainuku too.  "Fullback, Coach Pola says, is the hardest position at this school because we ask so much from the fullback," Tyler explained.  "Soma's hearing a lot of voices in his head, so at times he thinks too much, but he's doing good."
  • The Matt Barkley-Robert Woods connection was in sync for several long completions today including a 4th and 27, but the funniest play of practice caught the dynamic duo out of rhythm.  Barkley rocketed a sideline route in Woods' direction, but the fleet-footed receiver turned around a beat late, so the ball drilled him in the helmet.
  • After everyone let Woods hear about it, he caught the next ball for a TD and the team erupted led by new WR coach Ted Gilmore.
  • Much to Ed Orgeron's delight, the defense dominated again during the team portion.  Coach O was yelling, "Tyler Grady is on the loose!"  Grady is a walk-on defensive tackle.
  • In a spring loaded with interceptions, Barkley was picked off on a deflected pass by LB Hayes Pullard, while Drew McAllister stepped in front of a Jesse Scroggins' pass for a pick-six.
  • In summing up spring, Lane Kiffin is most excited about the development of the class of 2010.  "That class of a year ago is starting to shape up," he said.  "From that perspective, the future is extremely bright."
  • Lane Kiffin announced that he'll release a depth chart after the game Saturday, but "as far as I'm concerned, it won't mean anything," said the head coach.
  • Here's the Kiffin on all the topics of the day...




Field Trip

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Led by head coach Lane Kiffin, USC football held a pep rally at the Health Sciences Campus and met with patients as part of their ongoing effort to unite the Trojan Family and serve the community.

The rally featured four student-athlete speakers (#81 Kevin Greene, #44 Christian Tupou, #6 Cody Kessler and #46 Ross Cumming), the Spirit of Troy and the Song Girls.

Here's a look at the day courtesy of Jordan Cohen...



Cooper Signs Top Class

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USC women's basketball head coach Michael Cooper continued to rebuild the Women of Troy Vaioletama.jpgby adding three players who comprise the #8 recruiting class in the nation, according to ESPN HoopGurlz.

The class consists of two McDonald's All-Americans, PF Alexyz Vaioletama (Mater Dei HS - pictured) and Ariya Crook-Williams (Long Beach Poly HS), plus top forward Deanna Calhoun, who is rehabbing from knee surgery.

"It's really great to be able to announce our second recruiting class to USC," Cooper said. "My coaches and I worked hard to recruit and sign talented, hard-working young women who are ready to help this program take the next step. Using the WNIT championship as a springboard, we are excited about the addition of Deanna, Ariya and Alexyz and the experience, size and depth they add to our veteran team."

Click here for the full story!

Coming off a WNIT final run, the women's basketball program has momentum with everyone returning from Cooper's rotation except senior Kari LaPlante.

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Spring Storylines: Offensive Line

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Matt Kalil will start at left tackle.

That is all we know for sure about the offensive line, which Lane Kiffin called "the biggest question mark" on the team.

Khaled Holmes will start at either guard or center.  Kevin Graf will likely fill a hole somewhere.

The other two spots will be subject to an open competition come fall camp with no clear favorites. 

O-Line.JPGAlong with Kalil, the spring reps have been divided between practice veterans Martin Coleman, Giovanni Di Poalo, John Martinez and JC transfers David Garness and Jeremy Galten, while Holmes, Graf and Abe Markowitz are limited by injuries.

This fall, Kiffin will welcome prized recruits Aundrey Walker, Cyrus Hobbi, Marcus Martin and Cody Temple to provide an infusion of talent.

Hopefully, fall will answer spring's questions for a unit that could determine the success of USC's offense in 2011.

Here's a chance to meet newcomer Jeremy Galten, who has impressed the coaches with his toughness this spring by playing through a sprained knee...





Morning Papers (4/20/11)

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The late edition of the morning papers...





Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #13

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With only two more spring sessions, get your John McGillen photos while they are hot!




Double Drama

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USC women's golf won the team and individual titles at the Pac-10 championships today and all but clinched the Gauntlet in the process.

The Women of Troy came into the day tied with Stanford, but buried the Cardinal under a wave of birdies en route to a five stroke victory. 

Meanwhile, the individual race came down to a playoff between USC's Sophia Popov and UCLA's Tiffany Lua.  The German freshman needed just one extra hole to finish off her Bruin counterpart and win the conference crown.

Click here for the full story!

USC has not officially won the Gauntlet because they can give points back in future postseason match-ups like Saturday's men's volleyball game, but the Trojans have two hands wrapped around their fourth straight crosstown trophy.

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(Photo by Steve Rodriguez)

Sunday's Best

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USC baseball has battled back to .500 in conference after winning their last two series at home against Stanford and Oregon.  While the Trojans are just 15-20 overall, they are now 6-6 in Pac-10 play, which puts them in fifth place in the league.

The recent resurgence has been keyed by an unlikely source, senior right-hander Logan Odom.  The Sunday starter has pitched below the radar in the same rotation as highly-touted hurlers Andrew Triggs and Austin Wood.

With nine starts in the books, Odom sports a sterling 2.80 ERA overall and a 1.71 ERA in league games. 

Odom has taken the mound in rubber matches the last two weeks and settled the series in the Trojans' favor by holding down the Cardinal and Ducks.  He's also earned a reputation as a rivalry killer by giving up just one earned run in 14.1 innings of winning baseball against the Bruins this season.

Odom and the Trojans hit the road now for seven of their next eight including conference battles at Washington and Arizona. 

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(Photo by Shelly Castellano)

Price is Right

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Former USC women's basketball player Markisha Lea is a contestant on the "Price is Right" tomorrow at 10 a.m. pacific time on CBS.

Price Is Right.jpg


Spring Practice #13: Notes

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As we enter the final week, the roster is more depleted than ever.

  • Add defensive backs Tony Burnett and Demetrius Wright to the injury list with ankle issues picked up in last Saturday's scrimmage.
  • Running backs Dillon Baxter and Marc Tyler are still not back practicing.  In order to play in the spring game, Baxter will have to prove he can push off the ankle, while Tyler needs to pass a concussion test.
  • The wide receivers were back down to three scholarship players today with Markeith Ambles relegated to disciplinary exercises on the side for showing up late.
  • On the positive side, it's only spring!  The depth this fall should will increase at every position with the recruiting class arriving and the injured scholarship players returning.
  • The linebacking corps could see the most dramatic transformation.  Last year, they had little to no depth, but with the development of Hayes Pullard, Dion Bailey and Marquis Simmons to go along with the injured starters and three top freshmen, they are loaded all of the sudden.  "Competition is going to run deep," said LB coach Joe Barry.
  • Pullard has been the spring sensation, but he's earned that label the old-fashioned way.  "He's just taking advantage of his opportunity," Barry said.  "He's showing up and making plays and that's what our job is as linebackers."
  • Bailey's conversion from safety to linebacker was the early story of spring.  Now, he has found his niche as a hybrid backer who sees most of his action in modified nickel packages.  "He and Marquis Simmons are both athletic guys for linebackers," Barry explained.  "We don't have to substitute and go nickel (five defensive backs).  We can stay with our base package and kind of morph into our nickel package."
  • As for the day's highlights, the Robert Woods versus Nickell Robey match-up on the outside continues to be the highest quality duel.  Robey made a great play on a deep ball to knock it away from Woods in a one-on-one situation.  Then, he came off his man to pluck away an interception on a pass intended for Woods.
  • Woods is never held down for long though.  He made a great second effort, juggling catch on the sideline to secure a long completion.
  • Actually, Woods grab set up another offensive highlight, D.J. Morgan showed his burst to the edge on a touchdown run to cap the drive.  Morgan is still not at full flight, which is a scary thought considering how explosive he is when he turns on the jets.
  • Here is Lane Kiffin looking back at the scrimmage tape and ahead to the spring game...




Spring Game Coverage

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USC football's annual spring game at the Coliseum is this Saturday at 1 o'clock. 

Click here for spring game tickets!!! (Kids 12 and under are in FREE.)

If you cannot make it to the Coliseum or want to supplement your experience, ESPN Radio 710 will be broadcasting during the game with Pete Arbogast, Mark Willard and special guests combining play-by-play with interviews and commentary.  Arbogast will be calling the game among the crowd, while Willard will be on the field.

Up in the press box, we will host a live chat on the USCTrojans.com blog for all our readers to join in on the fun and ask questions.

Our friends at Fox Sports will debut a special Lane Kiffin USC Football Weekly spring recap this month with behind-the-scenes footage, point-of-view cameras and much more.  

On USCTrojans.com, we will also have highlights, post-game interviews, notes and photos!

See ya at the Coliseum!!
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Swim with Mike Relay

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(Note: We're having issues with our Pierson Clair photo galleries below.  Hopefully, they'll be back up and running again soon.)

In the meantime, check out this hilarious video from "Swim with Mike" as the football players and coaches competed in the Song Girl relay. 

Spoiler alert: It does not turn out well for the coaches...




Photo Gallery: Swim with Mike

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USC helped "Swim with Mike" raise over $1.45 million for physically challenged athletes at Saturday's swim-a-thon.

The annual event featured the belly flop competition and the football/song girls relay (video to come!).

Here is a look at the pics from a hot Saturday courtesy of Pierson Clair...




Key Points

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Lane Kiffin has brought out the big guns this spring to deliver motivational messages to the team, including Mark Sanchez, Keith Rivers and Lawrence Jackson.

On Saturday, he handed the post-practice floor to Keyshawn Johnson, who was a former #1 overall NFL draft pick and holds the USC single season pass catching record with 102 grabs in 1995.

Here is Johnson talking about the importance of finishing school, managing your money and winning games...




Playoff Push

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USC men's volleyball has gone wire-to-wire in the regular season as the nation's #1 ranked team.

To achieve that type of consistency (21-2 overall record), a program must rely on a wealth of leadership, which is certainly the case with this eight-man senior class that was celebrated Saturday.

Click here for the complete senior tribute story!

The Trojans have a singular national championship goal in mind as they begin the final journey this Saturday at home against UCLA in the quarterfinals of the MPSF tournament. 

While head coach Bill Ferguson wants nothing but wins, USC has a parachute if they get upset during the conference tourney.  As the undisputed #1 team in the country, they would be the obvious choice to earn the lone at-large berth to the Final Four if they need to go that route.

Click here for tickets to Saturday's rivalry postseason opener!

Here's a Pierson Clair photo gallery of Saturday's Senior Day sweep of UCSB...




Photo Gallery: Women's Water Polo Senior Day

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The #4 women's water polo team paid perfect tribute to their senior class by knocking off #7 San Jose State to close MPSF play.

Headed into the postseason conference tournament, the Trojans finished the regular season 16-5 overall and 4-3 in conference.

Here's a look at Saturday's senior day courtesy of Pierson Clair...




Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #12

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As we head into the final week of 2011 spring practice, check out some John McGillen photos from yesterday's Coliseum scrimmage.

Remember, you are all invited to the Spring Game next Saturday (April 23) at 1 p.m..




Hit of the Day

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This play shows off two aspects that stood out from today's scrimmage, the shiftiness of Curtis McNeal and the physicality of USC's secondary.

Take a look and listen...




Spring Practice #12: Notes

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The defense pitched a shutout until D.J. Morgan scored to cap the Coliseum scrimmage.

  • Here are the relevant QB stats: Matt Barkley - 17/28 for 154 yards, Jesse Scroggins - 4/5 for 48 yards and an INT, Cody Kessler - 3/4 for 6 yards, Max Wittek - 1/4 for 33 yards.
  • Leading rushers: Curtis McNeal - 13 carries for 49 yards, D.J. Morgan - 14 carries for 51 yards and a TD.
  • Leading receivers: Robert Woods - 8 catches for 71 yards, Brandon Carswell - 3 catches for 43 yards, De'Von Flournoy - 3 catches for 29 yards.
  • Leading tacklers: Marquis Simmons  and Will Andrew - 6 tackles.  Eric Childs and DaJohn Harris - 2 tackles for loss.
  • Barkley and Woods did hook up twice for scores in goal line drills.
  • The best offense of the day came from freshman kicker Andre Heidari, who drilled a 50-yarder to ring in the three horns.
  • While Lane Kiffin was largely disappointed with the performances of most of the freshmen on offense, he named freshman LB Hayes Pullard the MVP of the day.  "I'm just doing everything the coaches tell me to do," said the fast rising linebacker.  "My mindset coming into spring was just to learn the playbook, learn from the older guys and just get better."
  • Throughout spring, the front four has been disruptive, but today the back seven stood out.  LB Dallas Kelley made the play of the day stepping in front of a Jesse Scroggins pass for the lone forced turnover.
  • And on the outside, the corners are much more physical now than the group last fall.  With Nickell Robey, Tony Burnett and Anthony Brown, they are more than willing to mix it up.  "We're a little more hungry," said Burnett.  "We're young and trying to get our playing time.  In order for people to respect our swagger, we've got to make them respect it by hitting them."
  • The scrimmage was narrated by Ed Orgeron, who could smell blood as his defense consistently dominated.  The more the offense struggled; the more he let everyone know about it. 
  • As for offensive highlights, Max Wittek tossed a gorgeous sideline rainbow for a 33-yard completion to Woods. 
  • Meanwhile, Curtis McNeal continues to impress.  The little guy looks like a scat back, but he refuses to be stereotyped.  [Jacquizz Rodgers] was an every down back at Oregon State," McNeal welcomed the comparison.  "Why can't I do that at USC?"
  • As for Coach John Baxter's claim that McNeal could have blocked three punts last year if he were eligible, "I have got a pretty good dip and drive move," McNeal admitted.  "If you want to be on the highlights, you will listen to Coach Baxter."
  • USC greats WR Keyshawn Johnson and OL Ryan Kalil attended practice.  Kalil was there to support his younger brother (interview coming soon!), while Johnson was invited to speak to the team (video coming soon!).  "It means a lot to us," Burnett said about the great Trojans coming back.  "When we hopefully get to where they are, we'll take their advice because they have already been through it."
  • Here are Coach Kiffin's abbreviated post-practice remarks since he and the team had to board a bus for Swim with Mike (video coming soon!)...




Duck Hunters

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USC baseball is looking to stay hot this weekend as they go duck hunting at Dedeaux.

Come join the party!

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Born Trojans

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Tim McDonald believes he was born a Trojan. The consensus All-American safety instilled that same belief in his son T.J..

Two generations of Trojans roaming the defensive backfield inside the Coliseum.  And even more, the father and son represent everything good about USC.

Tradition, honor, respect, academics and big time college football.

We caught up with Tim McDonald at football practice last week before he took off for class.  He's back at Annenberg finishing his degree alongside his son.

   



#1 Men's Volley Pounds UCLA

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The #1 USC men's volleyball team looked the part last night as they dismantled the Bruins in three uncontested sets, which set a rivalry record for dominance.

The Trojans fired a loud opening salvo taking the first game 25-12 and then swept through the Bruins, while holding them to their lowest point total against USC since rally scoring began in 2001.

Bill Ferguson's squad has one more regular season game to play, Saturday's senior tribute against UCSB (7 p.m. at Galen), before they take their shot at the program's first national title since 1990.

Here's Pierson Clair's look at last night's win, which put USC 2.5 points away from clinching the Gauntlet...






Renaissance Scholars

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Cross country runner Zara Lukens and jumper Cara Bickers (photo) were awarded $10,000 each for finishing in the top ten of the 329 Renaissance Scholars that will be recognized at next month's commencement.

Bickers spread in long jump.jpgClick here to learn more about Zara Lukens!

In all, nine student-athletes will receive a student-recognition award for completing a major and a minor, or a double major, in two disparate fields with a 3.5 GPA or better.

Here's the list of student-athletes to be recognized:

James Krumpholz - Men's Water Polo
Dina Hegazy - Women's Swimming
Joelle Bekhazi - Women's Water Polo
Kevin Little - Men's Swimming
Cara Bickers - Women's Track and Field
Jaak Poldma - Men's Tennis 
Katherine McFetridge - Women's Crew
Bo DeHuff - Men's Golf
Karter Haug - Women's Soccer

(Note: The linked student-athletes were USCTrojans.com STUDENT-athletes of the week.)




Spring Storylines: Tight Ends

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Lane Kiffin uses the tight end corps as his example.  They represent depth, talent and competition, which is what the head coach wants to see at every position group.

Telfer.JPGEven more, this foursome is tied together by a tremendous work ethic led by senior Rhett Ellison.

"These kids, they work harder than everyone I've been around since I've been at SC," said Ellison about Xavier Grimble, Christian Thomas and Randall Telfer (photo by John McGillen).  "It's easy for me because they just want to do it.  They show up, suit up, shut up and just go."

Unless he lines up at fullback, Ellison will start at tight end this season, but the freshmen trio should all get opportunities.

Grimble is the best blocker.  Thomas is the explosive down field threat.  Telfer combines size and athleticism.

While the group is self-motivated and refers to the unit as "a family," they have a new fiery position coach in Justin Mesa, who took over for Keary Colbert. 

"Mesa is awesome," Ellison said.  "He's high energy.  He knows the offense as well as anybody and all the techniques.  He's really helping us out."

Grimble missed most of the fall season with injuries, but he has shown off his playmaking ability this spring to go along with his tremendous size and physicality.  Here is the redshirt freshman talking about his developing skills...






Last Call: Game Day Experience

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We continue our fan outreach by providing a "Game Day Tour" at the USC spring game to any new season ticket holder who purchases at least two tickets by April 15.  

Click here to purchase season tickets and use the promo code: Gameday:Trojans.


The Game Day experience includes:

  • A Coliseum locker room and tunnel walk
  • USC guest speakers
  • A Lane Kiffin visor (1st 500 customers get an embroidered signature edition)
  • Self-guided tours of Heritage Hall and the football facilities
  • Boxed lunch
  • And much more...
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Gauntlet Update (4/14/11)

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The Trojans have an opportunity to all but clinch the Gauntlet this week as #1 men's volleyball hosts the Bruins tonight at Galen (7 p.m.) and #14 women's tennis looks to upset #6 UCLA at Marks Stadium Friday (3 p.m.). 

MTroy-Volley.jpgClick here for volleyball tickets!!!

Men's volleyball sits at 19-2 with two games to play this week before they begin the playoffs against the very same Bruins next week at Galen Center.  While UCLA packs a great volleyball tradition, USC head coach Bill Ferguson is an impressive 7-2 against the legendary Bruins' leader Al Scates.

If men's volleyball takes care of business tonight, the women's tennis team could bank 2.5 more Gauntlet points Friday by knocking off the Bruins in their regular season finale.

Current Gauntlet standings: USC 52.5, UCLA 25

Technically, the Trojans need 57.5 points to clinch the trophy, which they could gain by beating the Bruins in both sports this week.  However, it won't be officially over because postseason matchups change the point equation.

Nevertheless, USC is on its way to a fourth straight Gauntlet and we'd love your support this week to see off the Bruins!

Here's a call to arms from women's tennis stars Maria Sanchez and Ali Ramos...






Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #11

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Take a look through the lens as John McGillen shot another spring practice...






Spring Practice #11: Notes

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Football stuff on top, baseball report on the bottom...

  • TE Christian Thomas was the newest name on the injury list.  He had x-rays on his foot, which came back negative, which is of course positive.  He sat out with soreness.
  • However, tight end is the rare unit on the squad that can afford to take a loss with four quality players.  Given the depth, Rhett Ellison has been taking reps at fullback, where true freshman Soma Vainuku is the only other option.  "It's something we'll probably do a lot of in the fall, especially if these younger tight ends continue to develop," said Kiffin.
  • Ellison is the classic hard hat, lunch pail type of player, who is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team.  "It's always good just to be in there," he said.  "It's a little more space and more to read.  Your triangle is just bigger than a tight ends."
  • The depth at tight end could possibly lead to more two tight end formations, especially given the fragile state of the offensive line, which Kiffin called "the number one question by far on our team."
  • With the obvious exception of LT Matt Kalil, the head coach does not see any potential starters from the group that has taken all the reps this spring.  "They're just a long ways away from the whole package," he said.  "Some guys are not developed enough.  Some guys are not playing fast enough because they are new to it."
  • Khaled Holmes and Kevin Graf are mostly sitting out this spring, but they'll likely grab starting roles on the line, which leaves two open spots to be potentially filled by the incoming freshmen.  "We're going to give them all a chance," Kiffin said about the class of 2011.
  • The class of 2010 continues to impress.  While DT George Uko and QB Jesse Scroggins drew more praise, LB Hayes Pullard is the rising star of the day.  "Hayes is doing really well," said Kiffin.  "He didn't flash that much to us last year, but he's had a really good offseason.  He looks really good out there."
  • The two highlights of the day were delivered to no one's surprise by RB Curtis McNeal and WR Robert Woods.  McNeal met T.J. McDonald in the hole and shook him so badly that the defensive back ended up on the ground.  And on the final play of the morning, Woods one-handed a TD to ring in the three horns.
  • Now on to the important stuff...BASEBALL!  The Trojans took batting practice as a team, which we'll give you a video sampling of in the next "Project Trojan."
  • To no one's surprise, McDonald and Jawanza Starling, the two players with the best baseball backgrounds, hit the only two homeruns.  However, the baseball coaches were most impressed with Drew McAllister's swing.  Matt Barkley and Zack Kusnir also looked like they knew what they were doing in the batter's box.
  • As for the coaches, Joe Barry drew the greatest accolades.  Sammy Knight and Justin Mesa were solid.  The rest get points for trying given the amount of ridicule being dished out by the attentive spectators.
  • It was a great team bonding exercise, but I'm pretty sure Ricky Oropesa's spot is safe.
  • Here's Lane Kiffin on all the football action...






Community Service Record

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For three straight years, the Trojan Athletic Senate (TAS) has set the record-breaking goal of 3,000 community service hours to be performed as a department. 

In 2010-11, they hit the mark!  And they are still going...

Cameron-Hosp.JPGThe student-athletes have already dedicated 3,160 hours to the community this year and they will play a huge role in Saturday's "Swim With Mike" charity event.

"From the time our student-athletes are recruited, we have emphasized to each the importance of not only earning their degree and competing in varsity athletics but also the opportunity to grow as men and women while they are at this institution and the importance of giving back to the community in which we reside," said senior associate AD Magdi El Shahawy, who is in charge of Student-Athlete Academic Services (SAAS).

The TAS laid down the challenge and the student-athletes responded by coming up with new ideas to serve the community, including completing 23 projects like "A Day in Troy."

As part of "A Day in Troy," which took place over two dates this year, student-athletes from nine different sports reached out to over 5,000 kids in the Los Angeles area.  Besides a day of autographs, campus tours and a women's basketball game, the kids were taught lessons about the importance of outreach, education, decision-making and living an active lifestyle.

"Many of the local kids have never been to USC or a college campus," said academic counselor Kyle Ross.  "With the power and global allure of USC, they get to come to a very special place and interact with our student-athletes, many of whom have overcome similar socioeconomic hurdles to thrive as Trojans."

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(Bottom Photo by Pierson Clair)

Hoops Help: Greg Allen

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Sweet shooting guard Greg Allen from Navarro College (Texas) was added to the USC basketball incoming recruiting class today, which is the first day of the spring signing period.

GregAllen.jpgThe 6'3" transfer will have two years of eligibility remaining and is expected to contribute immediately as a shooter and defender.

"We are excited to have Greg join our program," head coach Kevin O'Neill said.  "He has the ability to shoot the ball and defend the opposition's best player.  He's a great kid with an amazing work ethic and we are excited about him becoming a Trojan."

Allen prepped at Eureka High School before playing two seasons at Navarro, where he averaged 11 points per game as sophomore, while shooting 40% from three-point territory.

He joins a loaded 2011 class featuring incoming freshmen Alexis Moore and Byron Wesley plus transfers Dewayne Dedmon, Aaron Fuller and James Blasczyk.

Here's a look at Allen's pure stroke, which will help the Trojans fill the role vacated by Donte Smith...






Heritage Golf Classic

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Lane Kiffin and his staff took a break from the daily grind to hit the links with the Trojan Family at the Heritage Golf Classic Monday.

The day featured a beautiful 18 holes at Coto de Caza plus a silent auction and dinner.

Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron entertained the crowd.
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Golf chair Joe Plascenscia, John Jackson and Tom "The Bomb" Malone
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(Photos by Joe Andras)




Morning Papers (4/13/11)

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Good reads today...

(Photo by LA Times)
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Haden and Sanchez

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As we continue to reconnect with great Trojans of the past, we have a special feature today as athletic director Pat Haden and Mark Sanchez shared a candid conversation in Heritage Hall last week and SC TV was on hand to capture it.

The two quarterbacks talked about life in the NFL, the importance of academics and the emergence of QB U.




   





Spring Storylines: Special Teams

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USC football experienced a special teams revolution in 2010 under the guidance of John Baxter.  The Trojans blocked nine kicks, returned a punt and kickoff for touchdowns and scored numerous two-point conversions.

Heidari-Water.jpgIn 2011, Baxter will likely tab freshmen Andre Heidari (photo right with Baxter) and Kris Albarado to handle the placekicking and punting responsibilities respectively.  However, walk-ons Craig McMahon and Kyle Negrete are competing to make sure that the freshmen earn their spots.

While Baxter and company await Albarado's arrival, Heidari has made an instant impression as a spring entrant.  "Right now, he should be worried about who is going to the prom with him," Baxter joked.  "This has been really good for his development though."

In the return game, Nickell Robey and Robert Woods look like the most explosive returners, but Baxter has taken a look at Curtis McNeal, Brandon Carswell, Anthony Brown and others.

While Robey and Woods were protected a bit as true freshmen, there will be no workload restrictions this season.

"Robey and Woods have really uncommon maturity, work ethic and savvy for their age," Baxter praised. 

Click play to meet true freshman kicker Andre Heidari!






Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #10

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John McGillen was on hand to catch all the spring action this morning including the QB versus kicker blocking showdown!

All-american LB Keith Rivers was also invited to speak to the team after practice.






Cover Boy

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The #1 men's volleyball team's 12-game winning streak came to an end in Hawaii, but the Trojans bounced back to sweep the Warriors the next night.

Now, they are back on the mainland to wrap up the regular season at Galen with a rivalry showdown against UCLA Thursday night (7 pm) and a senior send-off versus Santa Barbara Saturday (7 pm).

Click here for volley tickets!!

With the Trojans in dominant form this season, head coach Bill Ferguson got some love from Volleyball Magazine, which put him on the latest cover.

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Spring Practice #10: Notes

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Big plays on both sides of the ball plus lots of injury news...

  • On the injury front, the good news is Xavier Grimble (chest/shoulder) was in pads after undergoing tests over the weekend.  Also, TE Christian Thomas cleared up his academic issue and was back at practice.
  • However, Dillon Baxter (ankle) and Marc Tyler (concussion) were both held out leaving just two scholarship tailbacks.  "I am going to try and be back Saturday, maybe, but hopefully next week," said Baxter.
  • Markeith Ambles was forced to do punitive exercises after missing Saturday's scrimmage without properly informing the coaches.  "I was upset with the coaches," admitted Ambles, who missed a practice last week because he was late to a weightlifting session.  "I wish I would have come.  I need to communicate better with my coaches."
  • "We hope that he continues to grow and learn from his mistakes," said Lane Kiffin about Ambles.  "It's really neat when they change.  It's hard sometimes to give up on them, especially when you have known the kids for a while and you know what they are going back to."
  • The safety position thinned out with Drew McAllister (hip) and T.J. McDonald (tooth) rehabbing injuries.  However, McDonald won the toughness award of the day.  "T.J. actually kept practicing (Saturday) after knocking his tooth out," Kiffin reported.  "They had to go in and dig it out, so he wasn't able to practice today."
  • Curtis McNeal was the MVP of the day.  The mighty mite running back broke a 75-yard TD run on the first play of live scrimmaging.  "Curtis was about as bad as we've ever had when he got here as far as respect," Kiffin compared him to the Ambles' situation.  "He's night and day right now."
  • If McNeal remains academically eligible, he could turn into a versatile piece in the backfield and on special teams.  "Curtis McNeal would have blocked about three punts last year if we would have had him available," special teams coach John Baxter said.  "He's matured a lot in a year and he's really embracing that part of his life."
  • Also out of the backfield, Soma Vainuku looked like Stanley Havili making a great catch and run on a wheel route.  He showed his grace in the catch and physicality by running over safety Cody Romness during the run.
  • The tight end corps continues to impress.  Rhett Ellison is the steady starter, but Christian Thomas showed his explosiveness by breaking away from the secondary for a long TD catch during 7-on-7.  Xavier Grimble is the best blocker and Randall Telfer is a combination of both, according to Kiffin.  "They are just really different," said Kiffin, who cited the group as an example of what he'd like the whole roster to look like.
  • Jesse Scroggins is the leading candidate to win the back-up quarterback job, according to the head coach. 
  • With his father and 87-year-old great grandma in attendance, Cody Kessler was impressive today making a strong throw on the run to the sideline and a perfect deep ball.  They also let the quarterbacks, except for Matt Barkley, compete in the board drill.  Kessler proved the scrappiest of the bunch.
  • The QBs were plagued by interceptions again though.  Hayes Pullard had a highlight reel one-handed pick-six, while Demetrius Wright and Patrick Hall also secured INTs.
  • We have pictures and a special teams story to come, but here is Lane Kiffin wrapping up the day.







Trojan Day at LA Live

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If you missed out on seeing Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron and Monte Kiffin at Sport Chalet Sunday, come by LA Live Tuesday from 4 pm to 7 pm to meet the coaches and take a picture with the Heisman and BCS national championship trophies.

The coaching trio will sign autographs for the Trojan Family and season tickets will be available for purchase.

The event is in association with our radio partner 710 ESPN.

Get your pic with the crystal ball!
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Tree Trimmings

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USC baseball enjoyed a successful weekend series win over the #11 Stanford Cardinal behind sterling pitching performances from Austin Wood and Logan Odom.

On Saturday, Wood powered through Stanford's lineup, while striking out a career-high eight, en route to a 3-1 win.  The junior flamethrower allowed just one unearned run over eight innings.

In Sunday's rubber match, Odom carried the day with seven scoreless frames, including a career best eight K's of his own, as the Trojans won 6-2.  The senior picked up his team-leading third win in the process.

Frank Cruz's squad improved to 4-5 in conference play with the Oregon Ducks coming to town for a three-game series at Dedeaux Field this weekend.  But first, the Trojans will travel to Pepperdine for a Tuesday showdown with the Waves.

Wood dazzled the Cardinal.
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(Photo by Pierson Clair)

Barkley POV

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As we mentioned in Saturday's scrimmage notes, Fox Sports West strapped a camera on to Matt Barkley's helmet for the practice.

Click here for the awesome video results!!!


(Photo by Pierson Clair)
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Coliseum Video Board

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USC and the Coliseum will debut a new video board - 150 feet wide x 40 feet tall - this fall (during the season) as part of the ongoing effort to improve the fan experience at Trojan football games.

The 6,000 square foot screen on the west side of the stadium (opposite the peristyle end) will be parsed up into different segments showing live game action, replays, down and distances and other pertinent features. 

"The game day experience is of the utmost importance to us as we continue to make improvements along with our partners at the Coliseum," associate athletic director Jose Eskenazi said.  "We feel that we are making progress every day." 

The white hashes mark the width of the video board.
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Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #9

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Pierson Clair was on hand to grab some great shots from Saturday's scrimmage at the Coliseum.






Trojan Battery

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USC invited the 243rd battalion known as "the Trojan battery" to deliver an inspirational speech to the team today.

The alpha unit, which included seven soldiers of different ranks, are headed to the Persian Gulf in the next couple of weeks to protect the troops.

They gave Lane Kiffin a battalion coin from the command of the brigade.

Here's the troop with Rhett's dad and former USC LB Riki Ellison (far left) who currently works on missile defense...

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Trojan Day at Sport Chalet

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Come out to see the Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron and Monte Kiffin Sunday at Sport Chalet in La Canada and Torrance!

Here's all you need to know...

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Spring Practice #9: Notes

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Barkley-to-Woods, Barkley-to-Woods, Barkley-to-Woods...

  • We'll get to the news and notes, but the combination above headlined the spring's second scrimmage.  Buoyed by the hallowed Coliseum turf, the offensive stars hooked up time-after-time to move the ball and put up points against a mostly staunch defense.  "We kind of know what each others thinking now," Woods said of his relationship with Barkley.  "It makes it easier and execution is higher."
  • Lane Kiffin was asked who the day's standouts were, "Robert and Robert" he replied.  "He's bleeding there at the end, yet he puts himself back in.  He's so competitive."
  • Kiffin also pointed out that Woods is just in his second semester, but he plays and acts like a veteran.  "If you have experience on the field, you can be a veteran," the soon-to-be sophomore said.  "Some of the guys look up to me as a leader, so I just try to lead by example and with my voice."
  • Stats were kept for the scrimmage portion.  Barkley finished 22/33 for 152 yards, while Woods grabbed 10 balls for 65 yards.
  • As for the other offensive performances, the back-up quarterbacks were efficient but cautious (Jesse Scroggins - 3/3 for 21 yards, Max Wittek - 3/4 for -6 yards and Cody Kessler 4/5 for 21 yards).
  • At running back, Dillon Baxter was knocked out mid-scrimmage when he had his right ankle rolled up on.  Officially, he was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain.  D.J. Morgan (16 carries for 51 yards) and Curtis McNeal (8 carries for 42 yards) continued their strong springs.
  • Defensively, Demetrius Wright and George Uko, two of the rising stars, led the way with seven tackles apiece.
  • True freshman Soma Vainuku is the only option at fullback right now.  "He did some good things today," including scoring a TD during red zone drills Kiffin said.  "It's still spinning so much for him."
  • If Vainuku struggles to make an impact, Kiffin may opt to use two tight end sets more often given the depth behind starter Rhett Ellison.  While Christian Thomas could not participate in today's practice due to an academic issue, redshirt freshman Xavier Grimble showed off his considerable size and athleticism.
  • WR Markeith Ambles did not show up to practice today.  "You would like to see guys continue to mature," said Kiffin about Ambles.
  • OL Jeremy Galten returned to practice just two days after suffering a grade 2 knee sprain.  His courage impressed the coaching staff.
  • Click here for Lane Kiffin's post-scrimmage remarks!!!
Matt Barkley was sporting a camera on top of his helmet for the day to provide a unique angle for FoxSports West.  Here is the quarterback on a solid day at the office and his extra piece of equipment...






Tommy Awards - Men's Volleyball

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Technically, the men's volleyball team was not eligible to win best video since they did not make the entry deadline, but they still produced high comedy.

Scroll down for men's and women's swimming...






Tommy Awards - Women's Swimming

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Scroll down to see men's swimming's submission...

The women's team definitely win Tommy points for creativity and editing.

Here's their music video set to the sounds of Florence and the Machine...






Tommy Awards - Men's Swimming

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As mentioned, the annual student-athlete awards show was held earlier this week, which included video submissions from each sport.

We'll post the three best today and you can decide which one you like the most.

Men's swimming was voted the winner by the student-athletes.

Here's their relay race in the Leavey Library reflecting pool...






Football Video Openings

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If you are a hard worker who wants to be a part of the USC football program, they are looking for videographers to help this summer, fall training camp and the 2011 season. 

You must be an enrolled student.  While experience with digital video cameras and football knowledge is preferred, it is not mandatory.

If you are interested in becoming a part of the video team, contact the video operations department at egespino@usc.edu.

Be a part of the team!
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(Photo by Jon SooHoo)




Lax Love

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While Lindsey Munday is working on putting together a Division-1 women's lacrosse program, the club lacrosse team celebrated their senior night this week by honoring 12 student-athletes.

The club team is broken into A and B squads, which split their home finale battles against UCLA.

Now, they head to the playoffs as part of the Western Women's Lacrosse League. 

Seniors' Katie Calpino and Catherine Belme are also athletic trainers.
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(Photo by Pierson Clair)





Trojan Tapestry

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Trojan-Tapestry.jpgIf you have had the chance to visit the new Ronald Tutor Campus Center, you likely noticed the Trojan Family tapestry depicting USC life in modern day.

Athletics played a major role in John Nava's masterpiece, which features former football kicker David Buehler and swimmer Rebecca Soni as well as the marching band and Spirit Leaders.

The athletic department staff, coaches and student-athletes were given a private tour yesterday at the USC Fisher Museum of Art on campus of the making of the Trojan Family tapestry.

Here's a look at the exhibit and a summary of the tour from distance runner Greg Woodburn, whose own art was displayed at the Artletics exhibit earlier this year.






Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #8

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John McGillen documented the day's action in the photo gallery below!






Spring Storylines: Deep Safety

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The safety terminology is switched in Monte Kiffin's defense. 

T.J. McDonald would traditionally be labelled a strong safety since he plays closer to the line of scrimmage, but he is a free safety at USC.  So, the opening at strong safety is really the deep safety who spends more time in coverage and less time in the box.

With Tony Burnett locking down the second corner spot, three of the starters in the secondary are set with McDonald and Nickell Robey. 

Drew-Mac-Spring.JPGThe competition at deep safety features Marshall Jones, Drew McAllister (photo), Jawanza Starling and Demetrius Wright.  Starling was the starter last season before getting benched in favor of Jones.

McAllister is always an intriguing player given his ball hawking reputation, but he has battled a series of hip injuries, so he needs to prove he can stay healthy.

Wright is the wildcard candidate.  "Demetrius Wright has really flashed," Lane Kiffin praised.  "He's shown speed, the ability to hit, the ability to tackle.  When we get to the fall, I think he'll really push all those guys."

Here's an introduction to Wright, who will be a true sophomore this upcoming season.






Spring Practice #8: Notes

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The stars were out early this morning...

  • USC greats Mark Sanchez and Lawrence Jackson were invited to speak to the team this morning at practice.  If you scroll down to the next post, you can see a photo gallery.
  • As you can imagine, hearing from NFL stars like Sanchez means a lot to the guys.  "Shout out to Mark Sanchez for coming back to where it all began and cluing us in on what it is all about to be a Trojan," LB Dion Bailey tweeted after practice. 
  • Jackson had some advice for the few healthy Trojans getting extensive reps this spring.  "You have to take this opportunity and squeeze every drop out of it," he said.
  • As for the current Trojans, Christian Tupou missed practice today after banging up his knee Tuesday, but he is expected to participate in some capacity Saturday, according to Lane Kiffin.
  • JC transfer Jeremy Galten went down with a knee injury, which will be evaluated today.  "That would hurt our ability to practice to lose another offensive linemen," Kiffin said. 
  • Our spring storyline later today will profile the battle for the second safety spot next to T.J. McDonald, but the secondary on the whole looks like a much more solidified unit than last season.  "We've got to step it up from last year," said McDonald.  "I want to be that group that's out there making plays and is proud to be DBs."  
  • McDonald is the undisputed leader of the secondary and he has raised his game to another level this spring.  "I've got a lot more swagger than I had last year as far as knowing the game and being able to jump routes and take chances.  I'm a lot more comfortable taking those chances because more often than not, they will pay off for me."
  • McDonald has an All-American pedigree as the son of Tim McDonald, who had a great NFL career as well.  (Note: We'll have a video interview with McDonald Sr. on USCTrojans.com coming soon.)  Tim is back in school after years as a player and coach to get his degree.  "I get to stay around my family a little bit more and talk football with him," said T.J. about seeing dad around campus.  "He did take one class that I took, so I helped him out with some notes."
  • LB Will Andrew continues to make plays.  He caught notice earlier this spring with a string of interceptions and stripped Curtis McNeal today.
  • WR Kyle Prater casts an impressive figure on the sidelines.  He has bulked up this offseason and looks the mold of Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett.  "He is the one guy we have on our roster of that stature," said Kiffin, but he cautioned that Prater "hasn't done anything yet."
  • On a windy day, here is Lane Kiffin (sorry about the bad audio at the end)...






Photo Gallery: LJ and Sanchez

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USC greats Lawrence Jackson and Mark Sanchez were invited to speak to the team at practice today.

As I write, Sanchez is working out on the practice field with fellow Trojans Damian Williams, Patrick Turner, Keary Colbert, Stanley Havili and Kevin Ellison.

Here's a look at LoJack and the Sanchize with the boys this morning from photographer John McGillen...






Trojan Day at Sport Chalet

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USC football head coach Lane Kiffin and defensive masterminds Monte Kiffin and Ed Orgeron will be meeting and greeting the fans at Sport Chalet in La Canada (10-11 a.m.) and Torrance Sport Chalet - Official Logo.jpg(1-2 p.m.) this Sunday, April 10.

The Trojan football brain trust are there to autograph your USC merchandise and give away a signed #7 jersey.

Plus, if you spend more than $25 at Sport Chalet on Trojan gear, you will receive four spring game tickets for FREE.

Come meet the coaches!
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USC and Titans Joint Statement

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Here is the joint statement released today by USC and the Tennessee Titans:

"We are pleased to be able to conclude a mutually satisfactory arrangement between the University of Southern California and the Tennessee Titans that concludes the litigation involving the hiring of Kennedy Pola.  The settlement terms are private, but include opportunities for both parties to avoid future disagreements and disputes over employment of persons who are already employed by either party.  With this amicable resolution, the Tennessee Titans and the University of Southern California have restored their long-time mutual relationship, and anticipate that the suit will be dismissed within the next few weeks."


Crew Cuts the Field

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The USC women's rowing team has surged up the national rankings to #3 this week after a victorious opener at the San Diego Crew Classic.

The Women of Troy were double winners as the Varsity Eight and Varsity Four boats finished first at the season opening event.

Click here for the full story!

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Tommy Award Winners

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The annual USC student-athlete awards show took place last night at the Brian and Susan Kennedy Founders' Room.

We'll see if we can get our hands on some of the hilarious videos that each sport made, but here are the winners in the meantime.

Male - Individual Day Performance - Peter Kurzeka - Water Polo

Female - Individual Day Performance - Maria Sanchez - Tennis

Best Comeback (Male or Female) - Bryshon Nellum - Track and Field

Best Athlete - Female - Alex Jupiter - Women's Volleyball

Best Athlete - Male - Robert Farah - Men's Tennis

Best Record Breaking Performance - Tumua Anae - Women's Water Polo

Male Trojan of the Year - Jaak Poldma - Men's Tennis

Female Trojan of the Year - Alyssa Davila - Soccer

Coach of the Year - Jovan Vavic - Men's and Women's Water Polo

Best Team of the Year - Men's Water Polo
 
Staff Member of the Year - Tatyana Obukhova - Strength and Conditioning




Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #7

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As we near the halfway point of spring football, here's a look at practice 7 of 15 courtesy of John McGillen.






Spring Storylines: Linebackers

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Each day, they always seem to walk out together.

Devon Kennard, Chris Galippo and Shane Horton are the three returning contributors at linebacker, but they have yet to participate in any spring practice.  Instead, they work on their rehab inside Heritage Hall and join the team for the last hour or so.

Kennard was moved to middle linebacker last season, while Galippo went into the 2010 campaign as a utility player.  As Kennard's adjustment process slowed him down at times, Galippo surged into the "Mike" spot.

Hayes-P.JPGHorton earned back-up reps until Malcolm Smith went down with an injury and then starred at Stanford in the senior's stead.

If they were healthy, they would all be slated to start in the spring game given the current make-up of the roster.

Instead, Will Andrew, Ross Cumming, Hayes Pullard (photo by John McGillen), Marquis Simmons and others have taken the reps as they battle for back-up consideration at the very least.  While Andrew had an impressive interception streak going, converted safety Dion Bailey is the rising star at the position. 

Bailey, who missed some time with a forearm injury, will need to bulk up before fall camp begins, but he has the sideline-to-sideline speed and coverage ability to add some much needed playmaking to the corps.

Here's a chance to meet the redshirt freshman Dion Bailey...






Woods Cam

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Fox Sports West strapped a camera on Robert Woods for a spring practice to capture the Freshman All-American's point of view.

Click here for the video results!

Check out what the camera looked like on Woody.

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Get Physical

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The USC practice field sounds like the good old days this spring with the return of tackling drills and hand-to-hand combat.

Our SC TV crew was out early this morning to put you in the mix as the Trojans ran through the "board drill," which emphasizes a low pad level.

Take a look...






Spring Practice #7: Notes

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A welcome return for some healthy starters...

  • RB Marc Tyler and DE Wes Horton were back in pads today.  While Tyler was pretty limited, Horton took nearly every rep. 
  • On the negative side, DT Christian Tupou is headed for x-rays after banging his surgically repaired knee.  "It scared him a little bit," Lane Kiffin said, but they are not expecting bad news. 
  • Dillon Baxter continued his improved play this spring by breaking a long run, which has been a missing element from his game.  Another big offensive highlight, Robert Woods plucked a Max Wittek bomb away from Nickell Robey, who had blanket coverage.
  • Tony Burnett is the other starting corner, Kiffin announced.  Obviously, the Trojans do not have a game for five months, but he has solidified a spot in the the starting lineup with his steady play this spring.
  • George Uko is also pushing for a starting nod at defensive tackle.  "He competes his butt off," said fellow tackle Christian Tupou.  "He wants that starting job.  There's no way me and 'Juicy' [DaJohn Harris] are going to let him take it easily."
  • As a unit, the defensive line does not have the same question marks as most of the position groups.  "We've got to get better," said defensive line coach Ed Orgeron.  "We've got to dominate.  That's USC football."
  • While the top line of the depth chart is solid, Coach O harkened back to his first tenure at Troy when his unit went eight deep with top talent.  "We feel that with the recruitment of this class coming in, it's going to help us build some depth along the line of scrimmage and competition.  We just don't have it right now, but it's going to change."
  • They do have athletes.  "Our two defensive ends ran faster times than two of our tailbacks," said Kiffin.  Nick Perry ran a 4.6 this offseason.
  • The lack of depth is apparent all over the field, according to Kiffin.  "We have some legitimate NFL star players," said the head coach.  "There's such a gap between those guys and not just the bottom of the roster, but really some of the lower starters."
  • Kiffin listed Robert Woods, Matt Barkley, Rhett Ellison, Nickell Robey, T.J. McDonald, Tony Burnett and Nick Perry as the elite talents.  To my eyes, Robey has been the best player on the field this spring.  He gives Woods fits in one-on-one drills and was the most explosive punt returner in the group today.
  • Matt Kalil certainly has the physique and ability to make any top prospect list, but Kiffin wants to see the redshirt junior take his game to the next level.  "He's a better pro prospect than his brother (Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil) was, but he's got to be more consistent."
  • Patrick Hall has become a forgotten name around Troy since coming in as a star-studded recruit from St. Bonaventure, but he picked off two passes today and seems to be opening up eyes in the secondary.
  • Here is Lane Kiffin on a beautiful Tuesday morning as we near the halfway point of spring practice...






Swim with Mike

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USC's annual swim-a-thon, "Swim with Mike," is back April 16 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the McDonald's Swim Stadium.

Swim-Mike.jpgClick here to register!

It promises to be an action packed day featuring a football and Song Girl relay race, the Coveralls Band, a silent auction, kids corner, dive show and delicious BBQ.

And of course, all the money raised benefits physically challenged athletes.  In association with USC, "Swim with Mike" has raised $10.6 million since its inception.




Aces

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USC tennis stars Maria Sanchez and Steve Johnson are the #1 players in the nation for their respective genders, which is the first time in NCAA history that one school claimed the top players simultaneously, according to the ITA's records.

sanchez serve.JPGBoth All-Americans, Sanchez and Johnson have combined for a ridiculous 60-5 record this season. 

As a caveat, the ITA only started keeping weekly individual rankings in 2004-05, but no school has ever boasted the best male and female players at any time since then or ever in the year end ballot.

In the fall, Sanchez became the first Trojan to win the ITA National Indoor Singles Championship since 1986 (Caroline Kuhlman).  Meanwhile, Johnson is riding a 17-match win streak.

The Trojan aces individual success has also led to team triumph as Johnson was a key cog in the men's last two national championships as well as this year's #2 ranked squad.

Sanchez is the anchor for the #14 women's team coming off a road sweep in the Northwest.

Johnson and his teammates host the Arizona Wildcats this Saturday afternoon at Marks Stadium.
(Photos by Dan Avila)
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Winter to the Hall

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Former USC basketball player Fred "Tex" Winter will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame as part of the 2011 class alongside Dennis Rodman, Chris Mullin and seven others.

Click here for the full story!

He is credited as the inventor of the "Triangle Offense," which helped the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers win 11 NBA titles (and counting) under Phil Jackson with Winter as his trusted assistant and consultant for 10 of them.

Winter learned the principles of the Triangle under USC head coach Sam Barry during his playing career at Troy.

Winter as a young Trojan.
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Morning Papers (4/4/11)

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Catching up on all the news...

Ellison is one of the leaders of the 2011 Trojans.
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Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #6

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The Trojans wrapped up another week of spring football practice with a 53-play scrimmage.

Here's a look courtesy of John McGillen...






Women's Golf Grab Number One Ranking

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Written by Whitney Blaine

USC women's golf is now ranked No. 1 by Golfweek.com, Golf World and Golfstat.com after placing first and second in their past two events.

The Women of Troy have three of the nation's top 8 golfers, including No. 3 senior Lizette Salas, No. 5 junior Lisa McCloskey and No. 8 freshman Sophia Popov, according to Golfweek.com.

Troy finished second yesterday at the 37th Annual PING/ASU Intercollegiate in Tempe, Ariz., and play continues through Sunday, April 3.

(Photo by Dan Avila)
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Spring Practice #6: Notes

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Written by Whitney Blaine

Saturday morning brought a full crowd of media, parents and family, including Projan Taylor Mays, currently a safety on the San Francisco 49ers. A couple of notables from today:

  • CB Tony Burnett split time outside Howard Jones field and on the sideline, counting the minutes he could participate in today's practice. Burnett is competing in the triple jump at 2 p.m. today, and according to NCAA guidelines, he could only participate in an hour of football practice.
  • In 7 x 7 drills QB Matt Barkley took a few snaps from OG/C Khaled Holmes. Holmes has been dealing with neck stingers lately, and Kiffin said Holmes is only practicing sporadically, and will not scrimmage this spring.
  • K Andre Heidari showed his range today, making a lot of his attempted field goals from both hash marks and kicking from various lengths.
  • DT Armond Armstead is taking it "step-by-step" regarding his chest condition, and Lane Kiffin said he "doesn't know either way" where Armstead stands but he has been cleared to lift and do some running, according to Kiffin.
  • QB Jesse Scroggins showed off his powerful arm in drills today. "You guys [the media] saw the performance it was probably his best day but in the huddle it was his best day." 
  • TB Dillon Baxter commented on his struggles last season, calling it "a mess." He said he became a bigger man," both figuratively and physically. Baxter said he gained about four pounds. On fellow back D.J. Morgan recent accomplishments, Baxter said "I came to 'SC for competition." 
  • When asked if Baxter was avoiding golf carts in the future, he said "at least ones with agents in them."
  • Receivers had quite a few drops in practice today, Barkley either missing his mark or throwing a couple picks. But on one play, Robert Woods had a great 75 yard run after breaking a tackle.
  • Kiffin said he thought before the spring that TE Xavier Grimble might move to DT. But the 6'6 receiver dropped 20 pounds to 245, so Kiffin said the move is no longer likely.

Hosszu Nabs Honda

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USC swimmer Katinka Hosszu won the prestigious Honda Sports Award as the nation's top female collegiate in swimming and diving.

The junior is just the second Trojan to be honored in the category (swimmer Kristine Quance won twice in 1996 and 1997).

Click here for the full story!

Our SC TV crew caught up with Katinka to get her thoughts...


McKay Center Progress

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Remember, you can click here to get a live look at the John McKay Center construction site 24/7.

Here's an updated pic courtesy of Pierson Clair...

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WNIT Final

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The Trojan odyssey will finally come to an end Saturday as the Women of Troy play their record 18th road game of the season at the WNIT final in Toledo against the host Rockets.

The game tips off at 3 p.m. eastern (Noon pacific) and online radio will be available at USCTrojans.com with Jason Schwartz calling the action.  The championship game will also be TELEVISED LIVE by CBS College Sports.

The Women of Troy are looking to win their first postseason tournament since the 1984 NCAA championship.




Projan Spotlight: Nick Young

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The USC men's basketball program has made the NCAA tournament four consecutive years (when eligible), which is one of the most consistent runs in school history.

While players like Taj Gibson, DeMar Derozan and Nikola Vucevic have carried the torch in recent seasons, Nick Young lit the fire in 2006-07 by leading the Trojans to the Sweet 16.

Even more than the victories, that squad led by Young, Gabe Pruitt, Lodrick Stewart and Gibson played to honor their fallen teammate Ryan Francis.

Young got off to a slow start in his NBA career, but he has found inspiration this season for the Washington Wizards, including a dazzling 30-point night against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Here is Nick on the Sweet 16 run, going against Kobe and being a Trojan...

   





Photo Gallery: Spring Practice #5

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With the sun bearing down on the Trojans, John McGillen was there to capture an exhaustive spring practice.