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July 2014 Archives

Women's Volley Hype

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USC women's volleyball season is just 36 days away, and tickets are ON SALE now for what should be a thrilling year for the Women of Troy. 

Click here for ticket info.

If you've never been to a match at Galen Center, women's volleyball is one of the most popular sports on campus.  If you're a regular, this video will help get you hyped for the new season.


Kessler Grabs the Mic

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For our video recap of Pac-12 Media Day, USC QB Cody Kessler grabbed the mic to interview All-American DL Leonard Williams.


Conference Corn Hole

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The Trojans were able to have some fun at Pac-12 Media Day including a competitive game of corn hole, a crazy costume selfie and a trivia contest.

Here are Steve Sarkisian, Cody Kessler and Leonard Williams enjoying themselves in Hollywood:


Photo Gallery: 2014 Pac-12 Media Day

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USC head coach Steve Sarkisian, QB Cody Kessler and DL Leonard Williams enjoyed themselves at Pac-12 Media Day today at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. 

The Trojans morning mostly featured hopping from tent-to-tent and reporter-to-reporter answering question-after-question about the upcoming season and everything else under the sun.  But, they had some fun too including a competitive game of "corn hole" and dressing up for a selfie.

Here are the photos courtesy of Pierson Clair:


Williams and Kessler on Pac-12

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All-American DL Leonard Williams and QB Cody Kessler handled every question from the assembled masses at Pac-12 Media Day, including a stint on TV with the Pac-12 Networks crew.

(The video is not displaying on the main blog page, but you can view by clicking on the "Williams and Kessler on Pac-12" blog post headline.)


Sark at Media Day

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New USC head coach Steve Sarkisian is a Pac-12 Media Day veteran from his tenure at the University of Washington, but he experienced the media madness as the leader of Troy for the first time today.

Here is Sarkisian on-set with Pac-12 Networks' talent Mike Yam, Rick Neuheisel and former USC WR Curtis Conway:

(The video is not displaying on the main blog page, but you can view by clicking on the "Sark at Media Day" blog post headline.)


Trojans Ready to Sizzle

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Before introducing the Trojans at Pac-12 Media Day, the conference started the buzz with a new USC sizzle reel.

(The video is not displaying on the main blog page, but you can view by clicking on the "Trojans Ready to Sizzle" blog post headline.) 


2014 Pac-12 Media Day Preview

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Head coach Steve Sarkisian, quarterback Cody Kessler and All-American defensive lineman Leonard Williams will represent the Trojans at Pac-12 Media Day, which is now a two-day event at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. 

Pac-12-Media-USC.jpgOn Wednesday (tomorrow), the USC trio will be broadcast LIVE on Pac-12 Networks and streamed LIVE for FREE to everyone on Pac-12.com at approximately 11:30 a.m. You can also watch via the embedded video player below.

On Thursday, the USC three will do various behind-the-scenes videos, interviews and promotional shoots for the upcoming season. 

The Trojan Family can follow Pac-12 Media Day and become a part of the action via social media.  Tweet @USC_Athletics your questions for Sarkisian, Kessler and Williams, and we will ask them the best ones.  We will also live tweet the event all Wednesday morning.

On our Instagram page, we will photo document the day as well as take your submissions using #pac12selfie.  The best fan content will be displayed at Pac-12 Media Day and on Pac-12.com.

Pac-12 Media Day starts at 9 a.m. Wednesday as conference commissioner Larry Scott addresses the gathered media and viewing public for his annual state of the union.  Plus, there will be a College Football Playoff Q&A at 1:30 p.m.



Micah, USA Oust No. 1

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The U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team led by current USC senior setter Micah Christenson knocked off No. 1 Brazil in four sets to clinch the FIVB World League gold medal for a second time in the team's history.

Click here for the full story.

Fellow Trojans Murphy Troy and Tony Ciarelli contributed earlier in the competition, but only Christenson featured on the final roster.  In the match, he had 39 running sets and 62 still sets on 102 attempts plus two blocks.

Christenson (No. 11) is a world champion.
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2014 Football Media Guide

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The 2014 USC football media guide is now available for free download on USCTrojans.com.  The reference book is a one-stop shop for all the information on this year's Trojans with player and coach bios as well as historical statistics and facts.

Click here to download!

The hard cover books will be available soon for purchase at the Sports Information office inside Heritage Hall or the USC Bookstore.  To purchase by mail, please send $20 checks (made payable to USC Athletics) to 3501 Watt Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0601.

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40 Days and 40 Nights

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A milestone Monday in the Audi Drive to Kickoff...

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Jimoke Wedding

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Former USC head football manager Brian Wagner married his Trojan sweetheart Annie Faulkner over the weekend at Troy.  Wagner, who now works for the University of Washington athletic department, received a groom's cake recognizing his split Pac-12 allegiances, but otherwise, the wedding was all Cardinal and Gold.




Easy Being Green

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USC baseball alum Grant Green delivered the first walk-off hit of his young career for the Angels ending a dramatic Sunday in Anaheim. 

Click here for his post-game interview and Gatorade bath.

Green, who serves a utility role for Mike Scioscia, started at his natural shortstop position for the first time in the major leagues.  He saved the game ball from his first recorded out at shortstop, and then presumably from his game-winning single up the middle.


Leslie Love

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USC women's basketball great Lisa Leslie will be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the 2015 class.  The selection is inarguable given Leslie's legendary resume including four Olympic gold medals, three WNBA MVP awards, two WNBA championships and the 1994 Naismith National Player of the Year honor.

Click here for more on the 2015 class.

As an iconic leader of the Women of Troy, Leslie was a three-time All-American and left the program as the conference's all-time leading scorer (now third) and rebounder (now fourth).  She remains USC's career scoring, rebounding and shot blocking leader.

More symbolically, Leslie threw down the first dunk in WNBA history and continues to serve as one of women's basketball's greatest pioneers and ambassadors.

Leslie-Dunk-SI.jpg(Photo via Sports Illustrated)

#USCHero

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As has become a tradition at USC football games, we pay tribute to a serviceman or woman nominated by you, the Trojan Family.  If you have a candidate for the "Hero of the Game" on-field recognition, click here to nominate your hero.

We would also like photos of you and your heroes, please Tweet or Instagram the pictures using #USCHero, and we'll incorporate them into our video board promotion.  Thank you and Fight On.

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Women's Volley Season Tix

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USC women's volleyball is ready to light up Galen Center for another exciting season starting with Texas A&M on Thursday, September 11, and culminating in a crosstown showdown with UCLA on Friday, November 28.  In all, the Women of Troy play a dozen home matches against elite opponents like Florida, Oregon, Washington, Cal and Stanford.

Click here for season tickets!!

Fans can purchase season tickets to all 12 matches for just $50 which is a $37 savings off the cumulative ticket price.  Once again, the Women of Troy are expected to compete for the conference title led by junior outside hitter Samantha Bricio and reigning AVCA National Freshman of the Year Ebony Nwanebu.

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USA Men's Volley at Galen

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Team USA Men's Volleyball will take on Iran at the Galen Center (Saturday, August 9 at 7 p.m.) as part of a four-match swing through Southern California, including stops in Anaheim (August 13), San Diego (August 15) and UCLA (August 16).

Click here for more info.

The Americans are ranked No. 4 in the world thanks in large part to the contribution of two Trojans, setter Micah Christenson and outside hitter Murphy Troy (pictured).  Christenson is going into his senior year at USC, so Team USA is just a summer gig, while Troy is a former National Player of the Year for the Trojans.

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Great Expectations

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USC returns several big time talents in 2014, but junior wideout Nelson Agholor is the only Trojan listed on the preseason watch list for the Walter Camp National Player of the Year.

Click here for the complete list.

The Florida product has shined in Los Angeles leading the team in receiving yards (918) and yards per catch (16.39) last season, while also making his mark as a second team All-American punt returner.  Agholor averaged 19.06 yards per punt return, which ranked second in the nation, and he took two back for scores against Cal.

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Zamperini Memorial

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Louis Zamperini's funeral was limited to a private service for family and close friends, but for the many readers that have asked, Torrance is holding a public memorial for the hometown hero and American icon on July 31 at 6 p.m. inside Zamperini Stadium at Torrance High School.

Click here for more details.

Also, a new trailer has been released for Unbroken, the feature film coming out this Christmas about Zamperini's inspirational life.  If the preview is any indication, no Trojan will want to miss this film.


USC Takes Over USAVB

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Lori Okimura, a former USC sports information intern, became the first Asian-American elected chair of the USA Volleyball Board of Directors, while former USC women's volleyball two-time national champion April Ross will serve on the Board of Directors. 

Click here for more on the Okimura story.

April Ross POY.jpgOkimura is the president/CEO of Creative Sports Strategies with extensive experience in sales, marketing and promotion of various major volleyball and beach volleyball organizations and events, including several USAV Junior National Qualifiers. 

"This is a very humbling moment," Okimura said. "I've spent my entire life involved in volleyball, beach volleyball and, most recently, learning about sitting volleyball. I have a deep appreciation for those serving in our sport, the very resourceful and diligent staff of USAV, and especially the men and women who represent the U.S. at the highest levels."

Ross will serve as the board's female beach volleyball player representative through 2017.  The Olympic silver medalist is currently at the top her sport with teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings.

"Since the sport has afforded me many opportunities, I feel very compelled to give back to the volleyball community and USAV," Ross said. "I want to help shape the sport going into the future, looking out for the interests of the players, and being an integral part of developing the emergence of the beach volleyball pipeline."

USC at the ESPY's

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The annual ESPY Awards celebrating the year in sports took place just down Figueroa last night at LA Live.  Trojans were all over the ESPN telecast showing off their style and their smiles.

Nick "Swaggy P" Young served as a fashion correspondent on the ESPN pre-show.  St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher was there to support his new draftee, the courageous Michael Sam, while Malcolm Smith continues to soak in the glory of his Super Bowl MVP performance. 


Ready to Run

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USC football has a talented trio of featured running backs this season led by Buck Allen and Tre Madden (pictured), who were both on the Doak Walker Preseason Watch List released today.  Sophomore Justin Davis, who averaged 6.81 yards per carry last season, could easily join Allen and Madden in any awards discussion.

Click here for the complete list.

Allen (134 carries for 774 yards) and Madden (138 carries for 703 yards) posted similar numbers last season, although Buck found the end zone 14 times to Tre's three rushing touchdowns in 2013.  Davis was second on the team in rush TDs with six as a freshman as he carried the ball 53 times for 361 yards.

Fullback Soma Vainuku actually led the Trojans in yards per carry last season at 9.75 per hand-off, while USC will also be boosted by the return to health of veteran D.J. Morgan. 

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Fuel On

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Recent NCAA legislation will allow schools to provide nutrition to student-athletes more often, effective August 1. USC welcomes that opportunity, another step by the school in the cause of student-athlete welfare.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 4.05.37 PM.pngUSC will provide all of its 650-plus student-athletes, scholarship and walk-on, with additional and enhanced daily fueling opportunities.  This "enhanced fueling plan" will cost the USC athletic department in excess of $1 million annually.

"I have always felt we needed to find new avenues to provide our student-athletes with the additional nutritional requirements they need to replenish their bodies after training and competition," said USC athletic director Pat Haden.  "I am delighted that USC is now allowed to do this.  Although the program is a significant new expense, it is the right thing to do as we keep in mind the best interests of our student-athletes' welfare."

The athletic department already employs two sports dietitians, Becci Twombley and Kristy Morrell, to manage the nutrition of all its student-athletes.  They will oversee the enhanced "fueling" program.

"This is more than just allowing more food to be brought to the table," said Twombley, a former board member of the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Association.  "This offers the opportunity to implement a department-wide fueling philosophy that brings the science of recovery nutrition to all 21 of USC's sports.  Providing the tools that each student-athlete needs based on their position, role and performance goals will give our student-athletes the opportunity to achieve their potential from the inside out.

"USC is one of just a few schools poised to take advantage of this new rule on a department-wide scale. Because of this, our student-athletes now will be fully prepared to compete at the highest level."

Twombley said that USC will add high protein foods to its fueling stations in the McKay Center and Galen Center, smoothie stations will be enhanced to allow for better customization of recovery fueling, and snack bags will be available to provide high antioxidant foods to control inflammation.

By adding these foods throughout the day, Twombley said that muscle growth and recovery will be more efficient, with an end result of a more resilient student-athlete. 

DeRozan Camping with Team USA

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USC men's basketball alum DeMar DeRozan was selected for the 19-man Team USA Las Vegas training camp in anticipation of the 2014 World Cup.  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski will pare down the roster to 12 players by August 30.

Click here for the complete roster.

Coming off his first All-Star season, DeRozan will have the opportunity to battle American superstars like Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Blake Griffin for a spot on the team.  He averaged career-highs across the board in 2013-14 including 22.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.

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Flyin' Hawaiian

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USC men's volleyball incoming freshman Larry Tuileta was named the 2014 Volleyball Magazine National Boys' Volleyball High School Player of the Year.  The Punahou (HI) High School two-sport star was a three-time All-State performer in volleyball and football, and he plans to compete in both sports at Troy.

Click here for more.

USC men's volleyball head coach Bill Ferguson has had great recent success recruiting the Hawaiian islands including current All-American setter Micah Christenson and recently graduated Punahou alums Henry Cassiday and Maddison McKibbin.  Tuileta will team with Christenson and National Freshman of the Year Lucas Yoder to form an exciting young offensive trio.

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Conference of Quarterbacks

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USC junior Cody Kessler is one of eight Pac-12 quarterbacks on the Davey O'Brien Award 2014 Preseason Watch List.  The conference tops all others in elite quarterbacks going into the season.

Click here for the complete list.

Kessler is taking a lot of confidence into his second year as a starter.  He passed for 2,967 yards and 20 TDs as a sophomore, while demonstrating accuracy (65.2%) and ball security (only 7 interceptions).

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OFFICIAL: USC vs. Alabama in 2016

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USC will take on Alabama on September 3, 2016, as part of the Cowboys Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The mouth-watering matchup of college football titans is a Labor Day weekend neutral site game.  Information on ticket sales, kickoff time and televising network for the 2016 Cowboys Classic will be announced at a later date.  The Trojans' originally-scheduled game on that Saturday date, at home against New Mexico, has been moved to September 19, 2020, in the Coliseum.

"We are excited to participate in a game that is such an attractive matchup for the nation's fans," said new USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian.  "The 2016 Cowboys Classic not only brings together two of college football's most tradition-laden and successful programs, but teams that in 1970 played a significant role in shaping the history of the game.

"At USC, we have always tried to schedule as many outstanding non-conference opponents as possible because we believe that should be part of the experience our players get when they come here.  The Trojans versus the Crimson Tide in Arlington will certainly be such a game."

Alabama leads the all-time series 5-2 over USC, but the Trojans enjoyed two historic victories over the Tide in Birmingham.  Led by African-American fullback Sam Cunningham (pictured), tailback Clarence Davis and quarterback Jimmy Jones, USC pounded Alabama 42-21 in 1970 serving as the catalyst for the integration of Southern football.  In 1978, the two national powers split the national title despite the Trojans 24-14 win over the Tide.

USC is 21-11-1 all-time against the vaunted Southeastern Conference, including four consecutive victories, but Alabama is the rare program that can compete historically with the Trojans tradition. In their history, the teams have produced 26 national champions (11 by USC, 15 by Alabama), 66 bowl victories (32 USC, 34 Alabama), 7 Heisman Trophy winners (6 USC, 1 Alabama), 272 All-American first teamers (161 USC, 111 Alabama), 797 NFL draftees (483 USC, 314 Alabama), 52 College Football Hall of Fame players (31 USC, 21 Alabama) and such legendary coaches as USC's Howard Jones, John McKay, John Robinson and Pete Carroll and Alabama's Wade Wallace, Frank Thomas, Bear Bryant and current head coach Nick Saban.

The Alabama showdown is the latest in the line of historical showcase matchups for the Trojans who have a reputation of taking on all comers.  Along with the annual series against Notre Dame since 1926 and the upcoming home-and-home with Texas in 2017 (in Los Angeles) and 2018 (in Austin), USC has played Ohio State, Auburn, Nebraska, Penn State, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Syracuse, Hawaii, Minnesota and Virginia on its regular season non-conference slate in the last 15 years.

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ON SALE: Single Game Tickets

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USC football single game tickets are now available for purchase for the first five 2014 home games against Fresno State (Aug. 30), Oregon State (Sept. 27), Arizona State (Oct. 4), Colorado (Oct. 18) and California (Nov. 13).  Individual tickets start at $50 in the Peristyle and $55 in the west end zone.

To purchase tickets, go to GetTrojanTix.com or call the USC ticket office at 213-740-GO SC (4672).

Tickets for the Nov. 29 home game against traditional rival Notre Dame must be purchased as part of a mini-plan or season ticket package. Both packages are still on sale, with mini-plans starting at $96 and season tickets at $295.

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Season Ticket Holder Experiences

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USC season ticket holders are being offered dream experience upgrades like running out of the Coliseum tunnel with the team or getting a pregame locker room tour as an additional exclusive benefit of purchase. 

You must be a season ticket holder, so click here to purchase your seats now.

At an additional price, season ticket holders can choose from a menu of VIP experiences including a welcome message on the Coliseum video board, a pregame photo on the field, an autographed helmet during Trojan Walk or a photo with the Song Girls. 

The experiences are all limited availability, so reserve your spot now.

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The No. 1 Target

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Junior wide receiver Nelson Agholor has been the Robin to Robert Woods' and Marqise Lee's Batman for the first two years of his career, but he is USC's marked man in 2014.  The playmaker is a preseason candidate for the Biletnikoff Award, which is annually given to the nation's best receiver.

Click here for the complete list.

Lee won the Biletnikoff in 2012, and Woods was a finalist in 2011, but Agholor was the Trojans' leading receiver last year with 56 catches for 918 yards and 6 touchdowns.

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2013-14 Timelines

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The Pac-12 Network recapped an eventful year in USC athletics on a Trojan-specific episode of Timelines which takes fans through a tumultuous football season, a Cinderella women's basketball's tournament run, two more national titles and more.

Enjoy the full episode below...


Freshmen Numbers

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The 2014 USC football roster has been officially updated with jersey numbers for the incoming freshmen class as well as a couple changes to veterans' uniforms.

Click here for the roster.

Of note, sophomore WR Darreus Rogers is bringing back No. 1, which was never given out during Lane Kiffin's tenure.  LB Quinton Powell went from No. 52 to No. 18, and freshman CB Chris Hawkins switched from No. 29 to No. 4.

Here are the freshmen numbers:

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Battling in the Box

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OL Max Tuerk, DL Leonard Williams and LB Hayes Pullard are all on the 2014 Rotary Lombardi Award Preseason Watch List, which eyes the best player in the trenches. 

Click here for the complete list.

The Trojan trio has littered many of the preseason watch lists with much expected of the returning veterans.  Williams is already an All-American, while Pullard was All-Pac-12 Second Team in 2013.  Tuerk (pictured) is making a big move to center this season continuing to prove his versatility and leadership.

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The End Game

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College football has a new prize to award annually to its champion after the unveiling of the CFB Playoff trophy today.  The first ever College Football Playoff begins in 170 days with national semifinals at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl before the championship game in North Texas.

From a USC perspective, OL Zach Banner said it best in a tweet this morning.


Backers for Butkus

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USC seniors Hayes Pullard and J.R. Tavai made the 2014 Butkus Award Preseason Watch List for the nation's best linebackers. 

Click the link for the complete list: Butkus Award 2014 Watch List 071414.pdf

The selection is a no-brainer for Pullard, one of the country's top returning tacklers and the Trojans' defensive captain, but the perpetually underrated Tavai is a new name on the national scene.  The outside linebacker has earned a reputation for an irrepressible motor collecting 3.5 sacks and 8 tackles for loss last season.

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Halfway There

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The Audi Drive to Kickoff is down to 50 days! 

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Craving Cravens

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Su'a Cravens opened up some eyes last season.  The Freshman All-American is no hidden secret going into his sophomore campaign as he popped up on the Jim Thorpe Award Preseason Watch List, which annually names the nation's best defensive back, to go along with the previously released Nagurski and Bednarik watch lists.

Click here for the complete list.

Cravens arrived at USC a semester early as a five-star standout, and he burst onto the scene with an interception on the season's opening drive at Hawaii.  He made the signature play of his young career picking off Stanford's Kevin Hogan to setup Andre Heidari's game-winning kick in the Coliseum.

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Beach Bodies

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USC indoor alums Tri Bourne and April Ross continued their successful careers on the beach with wins at the AVP Milwaukee Open. 

Click here for the complete story.

Bourne, who was the 2013 Newcomer of the Year, has picked up a pair of tournament victories this summer with veteran partner John Hyden.  They defeated Phil Dalhausser/Sean Rosenthal (21-15, 21-18) in the final.

Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings are now the team to beat on the beach after their respective Olympic partners Jennifer Kessy and Misty May-Treanor retired.  The London 2012 gold medal match combatants have picked up five wins this season.

Ross (left) and Walsh Jennings (right) are the queens of the beach.
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Outland Overdue

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The Outland Trophy has been recognizing the nation's best interior lineman since 1946, but only Ron Yary in 1967 has been able to bring the award back to Troy.  USC has two solid candidates on the 2014 preseason watch list in All-American DT Leonard Williams and C Max Tuerk.

Click here for the complete list.

While Williams' name is littered on every possible watch list this summer, Tuerk is starting to get some recognition after two solid years on the USC offensive line.  The versatile junior is expected to start at center this season taking over for Marcus Martin.

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Power Pac

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The Pac-12 has long been known for its offensive shootouts and record-setting quarterbacks, but defense wins the Conference of Champions these days.  To that end, 18 Pac-12 defensive players made the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Award Preseason Watch List, which is more than any other conference.

Click here for the complete watch list.

USC boasted three of the 18 with DL Leonard Williams, LB Hayes Pullard (pictured) and DB Su'a Cravens once again being recognized among the nation's defensive standouts.  

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2014 Pac-12 Postgrad Scholars

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For their commitment to continuing education, campus and community involvement and leadership as well as posting a 3.0 GPA or better, 2013-14 USC graduates Autumn Altamirano (women's soccer), Michael Godbe (men's swimming), Ceilidh Meagher (women's lacrosse) and Kevin Swick (baseball) were among 48 conference student-athletes to receive Pac-12 Postgraduate Scholarships in the amount of $3,000.

Click here for the complete release.

Two-time captain Autumn Altamirano (pictured) tallied seven goals and seven assists in 95 games for the Women of Troy, while also earning Pac-12 All-Academic Honorable Mention three times. 

Godbe was a classroom star for the swim program picking up Pac-12 All-Academic first team honors in three consecutive seasons thanks to a 3.81 GPA in political science.

Meagher is an original member of the women's lacrosse program, and the Women of Troy's first graduating senior.  The team captain will attend graduate school at Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden this fall where she will begin work on a degree in corporate finance and investment management.

Finally, Swick's all-around excellence has been well documented as USC's first Capital One Academic All-American first teamer in baseball this past spring with a 3.83 GPA as a business administration major.  The former walk-on led the Trojans in hits this season, and was drafted in the 22nd round by the Chicago White Sox.

Since the program began in 1999, the Pac-12 has awarded over $1.5 million for postgraduate study.

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Social Media Presale

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Thank you for being a loyal reader of the USC RipsIt blog.  As a small token of our appreciation, we are offering you a head start in buying 2014 single game tickets by using the promo code SOCIAL in the link below.

Click here to buy now!

The offer stands for 24 hours, so scoop up the tickets now before your non-tech savvy friends get a chance. 

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Bigelow Done for the Year

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Redshirt freshman DL Kenny Bigelow is out for the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee doing non-contact drills during a voluntary player workout.

The injury is a setback for the promising prospect who was pushing for a starting position along the defensive line this year. He was coming on strong after redshirting last season to adjust to the college game after an abbreviated but star-studded prep career.

The USC defensive line features two returning starters in All-American Leonard Williams and spring football MVP Antwaun Woods, but the third spot is wide open now with transfers Delvon Simmons and Claude Pelon in the mix. 

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Top Tight End Telfer

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Senior Randall Telfer is on the John Mackey Award Watch List featuring the nation's best tight ends going into the 2014 season.  Telfer has had a solid USC career with 10 touchdown catches, and he is looking for a return to health and peak form after an injury plagued 2013 campaign.

Click here for the complete list.

New head coach Steve Sarkisian has a reputation for feeding tight ends the ball, which has been a missing weapon in the USC offense in recent years.  In Sarkisian's offensive system, Austin Seferian-Jenkins won the Mackey Award last season at Washington, and Fred Davis became the only Trojan to collect the trophy in 2007.

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All-Around Playmaker

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USC WR Nelson Agholor was a second team All-American as a sophomore last season thanks to his punt returning ability, including taking two back for touchdowns at California (pictured).  Combining that with his dynamic receiving skills as the team's leading returning pass catcher, he is on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, which annually rewards the nation's most versatile talent.

Click here for the complete list.

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USC's 2015 Hall of Fame Class

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USC is set to induct 16 legendary Trojans into the Athletic Hall of Fame as part of the 2015 class highlighted by two-time national champion football head coach Pete Carroll, baseball's Golden Spikes winner Mark Prior and men's basketball's all-time leading scorer Harold "Baby Jordan" Miner. 

hof-insta.jpgThe list includes distinguished Trojans representing 10 different programs including Kristina Quance-Julian, the most decorated collegiate women's swimmer in USC history, women's golf's first NCAA champion Jennifer Rosales, women's water polo's National Player of the Year Aniko Pelle, men's volleyball national championship winning player and coach Bob Yoder, women's soccer's first All-American Isabelle Harvey, five-time Olympic sprinter Don Quarrie, and four-year men's tennis All-American Byron Black. 

Football boasts five new Hall of Famers as All-American LB Jack Del Rio, who also was a USC baseball standout, pioneering QB Jimmy Jones, innovative assistant coach Dave Levy, and All-American DE Tim Rossovich join Carroll in the 2015 class.

USC Athletics is also recognizing two outside contributors in John Hamilton, the driving force behind starting the Hall of Fame in 1994, and sportswriter Joe Jares.

Click here for the complete release with bios.

"This is an outstanding group of Trojan greats-Olympians, All-Americans, national champions and sports icons-who have played an important role in USC's athletic history," said USC athletic director Pat Haden, who was a member of the 2003 class.  "They'll join our first 10 classes of Hall of Famers to form a real Who's Who in USC sports."

The Hall of Famers were selected by a 75-member panel consisting of media, previous Hall of Famers, USC Athletics Board of Counselors and Trojan head coaches and athletic department senior staff.  To be eligible for election, athletes generally must have completed their last season of eligibility at USC 10 years ago.

Strong Down the Middle

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USC will feature a powerful defensive spine this season as evidenced by the Bednarik Award Watch List featuring DL Leonard Williams, LB Hayes Pullard and S Su'a Cravens as candidates for the National Defensive Player of the Year.

Click here for the complete list.

Williams is the Trojans lone returning All-American, and the junior is being touted as one of the nation's top prospects after recording 12.5 tackles for loss last season.  Defensive captain Hayes Pullard is a tackling machine averaging 94 per season over his three years.  Su'a Cravens burst onto the scene with 53 tackles and 4 interceptions to earn Freshman All-American honors.

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Maxwell Trio

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USC's offensive playmaking core was featured on the initial Maxwell Award Watch List for the 2015 season.  QB Cody Kessler, WR Nelson Agholor and RB Buck Allen are being eyed as potential offensive player of the year candidates.

Click here for the complete watch list.

The junior trio account for most of the Trojans' returning offense.  Kessler passed for 2,967 yards and 20 TDs last season, while Agholor was the team's leading receiver (918 yards and 6 TDs) and Allen led USC in rushing (774 yards and 14 TDs). 

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A Life Fully Lived

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USC Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, the embodiment of the Fight On spirit, died Wednesday after 97 years of inspirational life. 

zamperini.jpgThe unbreakable Zamperini first distinguished himself as one of Troy's greatest distance runners, captaining the 1940 track and field team, winning the 1938 and 1939 NCAA title in the mile, and setting the collegiate mile record which stood for 15 years.  Before attending USC, he had already competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin finishing eighth in the 5,000 meters.

But USC has had many great runners and Olympians.  Zamperini set himself apart with his heroic service in World War II when he was lost at sea for 47 days before becoming a prisoner of war in Japan.  The story, which became the best-selling book Unbroken, and soon-to-be Hollywood blockbuster scheduled for December release, made him an inspirational icon of "the greatest generation." 

Click here for more.

USC athletic director Pat Haden:  "Louis Zamperini was one of the greatest Trojans of all time, as well as a true American hero.  He was the embodiment of the USC motto, 'Fight On.'  All of us in the Trojan Family have a deep appreciation for what he did for USC and for our country, and we mourn the passing of this American legend."

The flags at USC are at half mast today in honor of a fallen giant, and the Trojan Family and a grateful nation has been reacting all morning.

Former longtime USC track and field head coach Ron Allice:  "Today is a sad day at USC, knowing that the wonderful life of Louis Zamperini has ended after 97 remarkable years.  I can think of no more famous Trojan than Louie, with his combination of athletic exploits and war heroics.  He was one of USC's greatest ambassadors and he never went anywhere without wearing his USC hat.  Even in his later years, he stayed very connected with USC, giving inspirational talks to Trojan teams and in USC classrooms.  The fact that he still is the only Trojan to win the NCAA outdoor mile championship, which he did twice some 75 years ago, speaks volumes of his athletic ability.  I know I will miss him, as will so many others.  He was a great man."

Four-time USC Olympic gold medalist swimmer John Naber, a close associate of Zamperini:   "Louis was very proud of being a Trojan.  He happily wore his USC hat in public and private, and was quick to hug any fellow Trojan.  During his remarkable athletic career as an Olympic runner, by his endurance on the life raft, and with his resilience at the torturous hands of 'The Bird' during World War II, Louis' life exemplified USC's 'Fight On' spirit.  Amazingly, his impact on other people continued as he grew older.  His example inspired thousands to be better people, myself included."

Year in Troy: Coaches on the Rise

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As we close up shop on 2013-14, here is a look at the teams, athletes and moments that made it a milestone year.

Jovan Vavic and Peter Smith are the current standard bearers at Troy.  The masters of water polo and tennis have created dynasties only comparable to USC's historical legends like Dean Cromwell, Rod Dedeaux and John McKay.

Many of the other 18 sports have seen change at the top in recent years, and the early forecast is sunny skies ahead for programs like women's sand volleyball, which rose to No. 1 for most of its third season earning Anna Collier (pictured) the nod for National Coach of the Year.  In her first year in charge, Caryl Smith-Gilbert was named MPSF and Regional Track and Field Coach of the Year, while inaugural women's lacrosse head coach Lindsey Munday was honored as Lacrosse Magazine Person of the Year.

Men's and women's basketball hit the refresh button with Andy Enfield and Cynthia Cooper-Dyke.  Enfield's team struggled on the court, but his first recruiting class is USC's best in years.  Cooper led the Women of Troy on a Cinderella run to a Pac-12 Tournament title earning an automatic selection to March Madness.

Baseball is one of Troy's proudest programs, and the arrow is finally pointing up again for the hardball Trojans.  Under second year head coach Dan Hubbs, USC was back above .500, narrowly missed a postseason berth and is projected as a Top 25 team going into 2015.

And of course, football enjoyed its very own coaching carousel in 2013 with four different men holding the title at one point or another.  Steve Sarkisian is now the program's undisputed leader, and he inked a Top 10 recruiting class in his first two months on the job. 

The new coaches have more than Vavic and Smith from which to learn.  Andrea Gaston picked up Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors captaining the remarkably consistent women's golf team, while Hongping Li was also named the conference's best for mentoring national champion diver Haley Ishimatsu.

As we peek into 2014-15, which will see the USC head coaching debuts of Sarkisian and Keidane McAlpine for women's soccer, the standard of excellence has been set. 

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USC to USA

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USC men's volleyball setter Micah Christenson plays the game at another level.  The collegiate is so accomplished that when he is not teeing up the Trojans for spikes, he is running air traffic control for the U.S. National Team.

Still with one more year of eligibility to go, the senior is the best setter in the country, college or pro.  In a new Pac-12 profile, he talks about his Hawaiian roots, playing for UCLA's head coach John Speraw on the national team and more.


Adventures with a Historian

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Former USC President John R. "Jack" Hubbard has his remarkable life story told in a new book, Adventures with a Historian.  Along with a colorful term as the leader of Troy in the 1970's, Hubbard was a decorated World War II naval aviator and the U.S. ambassador to India.

Click here to purchase the book and direct the net profits to USC scholarships.

While Hubbard's life was about more than just USC, he is well remembered by some great Trojans.

Current USC President C.L. Max Nikias: "Dr. John R. "Jack" Hubbard's leadership inspired USC's rapid advance through the 1970's, and in those pivotal 10 years, the university completely transformed itself."

Head coach John Robinson: "Jack Hubbard was an important figure in Southern California.  He was brilliant and funny and a great leader, and all that comes alive in this book.  I loved the man, and I'm glad he will be remembered in these pages."

All-American Charles "Tree" Young: "Dr. Hubbard was a giant man who cared deeply about the education of his students."

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Year in Troy: Individual Brilliance

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As we close up shop on 2013-14, here is a look at the teams, athletes and moments that made it a milestone year.

For many schools, one or two exceptional student-athletes competing for national titles defines a season, but USC is a consistent breeding ground for champions.  The 2013-14 numbers are once again staggering: 54 First Team All-Americans, five individual national champions and one National Player of the Year.

Who was USC's athlete of the year?  Consider these among many worth candidates...

Nikola Vavic, Men's Water Polo

He is the lone National Player of the Year this campaign earning the top award for the second consecutive season.  He leaves Troy as the all-time leading goal scorer, a four-time NCAA champion and a four-time All-American.

Haley Ishimatsu, Women's Diving

She went back-to-back as the NCAA platform champion and doubled down at the Pac-12 Championships with wins in the platform and 3-meter springboard.  She is also an accomplished scholar-athlete (pictured below).

Cristian Quintero, Men's Swimming

He was a one-man wrecking crew at the NCAA Championships sprinting to the wall first in the 500-yard freestyle and the 800-yard freestyle relay with teammates Dimitri Colupaev, Reed Malone and Dylan Carter.  He also finished second in the 200y free and third in the 100y free becoming the first Trojan to earn All-American honors in the 100y, 200y and 500y free since Hungarian great Bela Szabados in 1999.

Kirby Burnham and Sara Hughes, Women's Sand Volleyball

In one of USC's newest sports, Burnham is officially a pioneering legend, while Hughes is more than ready to carry the torch.  The senior teamed with the freshman to make it back-to-back AVCA Pairs Championships, and the dynamic duo did it in dominant fashion sporting a 42-4 record. 

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2014 Pac-12 Medal Winners

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The Pac-12 selected Devon Kennard (football) and Natalie Hagglund (women's volleyball) as the 2013-14 Tom Hansen Conference Medal Winners for the seniors that exhibited the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership.

Click here for the Pac-12 release.

Hagglund finished her career as a three-time All-American libero and a First Team Academic All-American.  Kennard captained the Trojans through a tumultuous season, which ended successfully in 10 wins, while individually, he piled up a team-high nine sacks as well as starring in the classroom.

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Rooster Strikes Again

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Former USC football player Gerald Washington remains undefeated in the second act of his athletic career as a professional heavyweight boxer.  "El Gallo Negro" is now 13-0 after stopping veteran Travis Walker in the second round.