April 2016 Archives

Nobody Does It Better

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Four new members were added this weekend to the USC to the NFL Draft fraternity as Su'a Cravens (2nd round to Washington), Max Tuerk (3rd round to San Diego), Cody Kessler (3rd round to Cleveland) and Kevon Seymour (6th round to Buffalo) saw their dreams come true.

The Trojans remain on top of the all-time leaderboards for 1st round picks, total draft picks and No. 1 overall selections.


2016 NFL Draft: Kevon Seymour

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Seymour-Draft.JPGUSC CB Kevon Seymour was the only Trojan taken on Day 3 of the NFL Draft when the Buffalo Bills selected him in the 6th round (218th overall).

He will join some familiar faces in Buffalo, including former USC teammates, WR Robert Woods (drafted by the Bills in 2013) and CB Nickell Robey, as well as Buffalo DC Dennis Thurman and DB coach Tim McDonald, who were All-Americans as Trojans.

2016 NFL Draft: Cody Kessler

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Kessler-Draft2.JPGUSC QB Cody Kessler surged up to the Cleveland Browns in the 3rd round, becoming the 93rd overall pick of the NFL Draft. He is the highest drafted USC quarterback since Mark Sanchez went 5th overall in 2009.

Kessler is the seventh Trojan QB taken in the NFL Draft since 2003. No other school has produced more than four in that time period.

The Browns have enjoyed picking Trojans lately as Cleveland selected LB Hayes Pullard (now in Jacksonville) and TE Randall Telfer last year. They also drafted TE Jordan Cameron (now in Miami) back in 2011.

With three total picks in the first three rounds, USC is enjoying its most productive start to an NFL Draft since 2011.

2016 NFL Draft: Max Tuerk

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Tuerk-Draft.JPGUSC center Max Tuerk was selected by the San Diego Chargers in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft with the 66th overall pick.

The Orange County product, who missed most of his senior season after tearing an ACL, will be able to stay close to home in San Diego. He is the first Trojan drafted by the Chargers since Shareece Wright in 2011.

While Tuerk is a versatile offensive lineman, having started at tackle, guard and center, he finished his USC career on the ball. Tuerk is the third USC center drafted in the last four years, joining former teammates Khaled Holmes (Colts in 2013) and Marcus Martin (49ers in 2014). He is the highest drafted USC center since NFL All-Pro Ryan Kalil went 59th overall in 2007.

2016 NFL Draft: Su'a Cravens

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USC LB/DB Su'a Cravens was the first Trojan taken in the 2016 NFL Draft when the Washington Redskins selected him with the 53rd overall pick in the 2nd round.

Cravens will play for former USC linebacker Joe Barry, who is the Redskins defensive coordinator. In the true spirit of the Trojan Family, Barry took a break from his family vacation to watch Cravens at USC Pro Day, and obviously, he liked what he saw.

Cravens, who will join former teammate Silas Redd in Washington, could play either linebacker or safety at the next level. He is the highest drafted USC LB since Nick Perry went in the 1st round in 2012 or the highest drafted USC DB since Taylor Mays went 49th overall in 2010.

Rowing for the Cup

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No. 12 USC women's rowing welcomes No. 20 UCLA to the Port of Los Angeles on Saturday for the annual dual meet (8:40 a.m. start). The Crosstown Rowdown carries 10 important points as the Trojans close in on the BMW Crosstown Cup.

Click here for the preview.

The Women of Troy have won 14 consecutive dual meets over the Bruins. To track the results of the races, follow @USCWomensRowing on Twitter.


Haden's Last Pitch

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As his tenure as USC athletic director winds down, Pat Haden wound up for the first pitch before last night's baseball game against Arizona. The Trojans lost the series opener, 8-5, but the two teams will square off again tonight (7 p.m. PT) and Saturday (2 p.m. PT) at Dedeaux Field.

Here is video of Haden's final toss:

Inaugural Champions

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At first glance, it was an average, slightly overcast April Friday in Los Angeles. But there was nothing ordinary about top-seeded USC duo Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes' afternoon at Merle Norman Stadium. After two highly-competitive 22-20 sets, the pair emerged as the Pac-12 Conference's first-ever pairs champions, boasting an astounding 65-0 match record and remaining undefeated on the season (40-0). 

After defeated fourth-seeded Arizona State in the semifinal, the Trojan pair battled through two tight sets against Arizona twins Madison and McKenna Witt. The pairs exchanged the lead multiple times in both sets, tying each at 20 before Claes and Hughes buckled down to claim two straight points for the match victory. The reigning 2015 AVCA National Pairs Champions will look to become the first-ever NCAA Pairs Champions next month. 

The Trojan team will now compete for the inaugural Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Team Championship, of which the semifinal and final matches will be played on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. PT. Be sure to follow @USCBeach for in-match updates and more this weekend!

2016 NFL Draft Coverage

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Good luck to all the Trojans in pursuit of their NFL dreams this week!

Draft coverage begins tonight at 5 p.m. PT on ESPN and NFL Network with the first round in Chicago. The second and third rounds will be held on Friday, while the fourth through seventh rounds are Saturday.

We will announce each Trojan to get drafted as the picks come in on Twitter and Instagram as well as right here on the RipsIt Blog. USC football has had 492 all-time draft picks, the most by any school.


Spring Forward - John Baxter

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Special teams coordinator and tight ends coach John Baxter never wanted to leave USC, and now he has come home to finish the story.

The Trojans expect to return to their playmaking ways on special teams under Baxter. In his first tenure, USC blocked 24 kicks from 2010-13, always ranking in the national Top 15.

Not only does USC boast world-class athletes, but world-class student-athletes as well. Each month, we will profile one of these outstanding Trojans who has chosen to pursue coursework in either the science, technology, engineering or math field (STEM).

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for chevron-track-hill.jpgName: Deanna Hill
Sport: Women's Track & Field 
Year: Sophomore
Major: Human Biology

Sarah Bergstrom (SB): So what brought you to USC? I know you're from Florida, which has a great track history, so what brought you across the country?

Deanna Hill (DH): It was really the recruiting process. I didn't feel like staying in Florida. Having grown up there my whole life I really wanted to see something new. I was big on weather and where the school was, so there were schools that were nice, but the location might not have been as good. I wanted to try LA. You hear so much about it and how it's so expensive, but to be able to go here for free and get to experience it without the cost of paying for it, it was something I could try.

SB: Did you know what you wanted to major in when you were in high school?

DH: I've always leaned toward the medicine side of things. When I was little I had different ideas like being a chef (laughs), but at the end of the day it was about going into medicine because I like the body.

SB: Is that something your parents or anyone in your family got into?

DH: No, though, they like it too. But they're not medical people.

SB: What was your recruitment like? Coach Caryl had just gotten here, so what was she like in the recruiting process?

DH: She had been at UCF, which is in Orlando, and I went to middle school and high school in Orlando, so she knew my parents. They had communication. I knew her through that and I had seen her at meets. So when she moved she started recruiting me for here [USC]. We had a relationship through that so that was kind of comforting. She brought me out here and when we came out it was more of a family than a team. With track it can get a little hard to find a team where everybody comes together and is close since track has so many types of people. I'd go to some other teams and see that they were trying for the visit to be close, but in reality they were more split up. Here people naturally were more of a family and that's what [Coach Caryl] aimed for with the team. It's not about success. The first priority is the team getting along, then our personal lives, and then it's track. I like how she staggered those.

SB: What's she like as a coach? I've heard really good things from a lot of your teammates, but what's been your experience?

DH: She's as hard as any top coach would be. What I think makes her so different is she's one of the first female coaches to have men and women on her team. With that comes a lot of pressure, but I think she handles it really well. Her priorities are a little different than other coaches. A lot of coaches are about athletics first and making sure you win. But she wants you to have your personal life in order and then the athletics can fall in line right behind it. That's kind of something I was drawn toward.

SB: On the track side of things, you accomplished a ton as a freshman. Did you have certain expectations for yourself or did you surprise yourself, especially on the 4x100m relay team?

DH: Coming in I just wanted to do well. I didn't have any straight goals. Coming out of high school I wasn't ranked number one or anything, so coming in I just wanted to make a bigger name for myself. I was known, but not as much as I wanted to be known. That was kind of my goal. When the season started shaping out, it was a surprise. I had worked really hard in the fall, but to see it be done and finally come together, that was more of the surprise part. Being able to run those times was really fun. Then having the team aspect of things and being so close was fun any time we stepped on the track together.

SB: Where did last season's success put you in terms of thinking about your goals and what you wanted to accomplish this year? Having experienced and done well at the NCAAs, what did that do for your outlook for this year?

DH: I think it set me up this year to work even harder because I went to NCAAs last year as a freshman, and so few freshmen get to make it that far. That set me up to do even better in my individual events, as well as my relay. My relay finished really well, but I didn't do as well as I wanted to in my individual events, so that made me a little hungrier this year.

Dynamic playmaker Su'a Cravens is next in line to join the fraternity of talented Trojans in the NFL. With the 2016 NFL Draft just over 24 hours away, the former USC hybrid linebacker will soon be hearing from his new team. Whichever team lands Cravens will receive a versatile and ferocious defensive force who accounted for 206 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 16 deflections and nine interceptions through 40 starts in his three years at USC.

As Cravens has said for months leading up to the Draft, "pick him or he'll pick you"...

Two More Wins

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Munday-MPSF.jpgUndefeated USC women's lacrosse added two more victories to its growing total as Lindsey Munday earned MPSF Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season and senior captain Courtney Tarleton was named MPSF Player of the Year. Seven Trojans were placed on the All-MPSF Team led by senior Amanda Johansen who finished her career as a four-time first team selection.

Click here for the complete story.

Tarleton and Johansen were joined on the All-MPSF First Team by junior attacker Michaela Michael, sophomore goalie Gussie Johns and senior attacker Caroline deLyra. Junior attacker Kylie Drexel and sophomore defender Lydia Sutton made the second team.

USC seniors Michael Hutchings and Chris Hawkins claim to be the Trojans' "best" friends on the football team and their proficiency in this week's Otter Pops Quiz suggests the duo might be right. From academic major to fast food craving to who breaks it down better on the dance floor, Hutchings and Hawkins know each other like only best friends can.

DeRozan Time

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USC men's basketball alum DeMar DeRozan broke out last night for a playoff career-high 34 points in the Raptors comeback win over the Pacers to swing the series in Toronto's favor, 3-2. DeRozan had been struggling to find his touch in the first four games, but maintained his belief that the shots would eventually fall after putting together a tremendous season.

"I knew it was going to come," he said after the game. "I worked too hard for it not to come."

The Raptors will look to close out the Pacers in Indiana on Friday.

USC alum DeMar DeRozan dropped a career playoff-high 34 points in last night's Raptors Game 5 win. #USCtotheNBA #FightOn

A photo posted by USC Men's Basketball (@uschoops) on

Farewell Felix

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Former USC Track & Field All-American and two-time Olympic 400m hurdles champion Felix Sanchez announced his retirement on Tuesday. The 38-year-old from the Dominican Republic ran for the Trojans from 1998-1999 before beginning what would be an incredibly successful professional career. 

In addition to the two Olympic gold medals won in 2004 and 2012, his nearly two decades of professional hurdling include two world titles and a 43-race winning streak between 2001 and 2004. From 2001 to 2013, Sanchez reached the final at seven successive IAAF World Championships, a feat accomplished by only two other athletes in the history of an individual track event. Sanchez is one of 89 Trojans to have won a gold medal in the Olympics.


2016 NFL Draft Preview: Tre Madden

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After being slowed at the NFL Combine by injury, Tre Madden showed up in peak physical condition at USC Pro Day, putting in one of the most impressive all-around workouts, including the day's best 40-yard dash.

At the next level, Madden provides the versatility that NFL teams crave in tailbacks. He has the size, speed and hands to play all three downs, and the former linebacker can contribute immediately on special teams.

Triggs to the Bigs

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Former USC baseball pitcher Andrew Triggs got called up to "The Show" and made his big league debut for the Oakland A's last night. The 27-year-old right-hander is the 111th Trojan to make it to the majors, the most all-time by any program.

In his first appearance, Triggs tossed a 1-2-3 inning, highlighted by his first career strikeout.

A consistent force on USC's defense for 3 years, USC LB Anthony Sarao is ready for his next opportunity in the NFL.

At USC, he accounted for 217 tackles, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and two interceptions in a career that featured 34 starts. The New Jersey native was a team captain in 2015 and tallied 59 tackles in 14 games.

When 6-foot-9, 350 pound USC offensive tackle Zach Banner stepped into a cramped elevator with eight other members of his position group on Friday afternoon, he assumed - like most would - that the uncomfortable conditions would endure for just a couple floors. 

The unit - weighing over a ton - found itself stuck in the hot and confined space for over two hours, during which an offensive line Iliad of sorts unfolded.

And of course, there was completely impromptu rapping.

What started as a perfectly normal Friday afternoon team hangout soon became the "best accident ever" according to Banner who spent the rest of the weekend appearing on NPR, SportsCenter and more detailing the adventure. We're just happy they made it out okay. 

Check out Banner & Co.'s "Elevator Rap" here...

100th W for No. 1

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It was an idyllic weekend in the Hawaiian islands for No. 1 USC beach volleyball, which won its 22nd straight match to claim the Aloha Invitational title and head coach Anna Collier's 100th career victory. The Trojans' head coach is the first collegiate beach coach to reach the centenary mark.

The Trojans defeated No. 5 Hawaii, 3-0, with three swift match victories from USC's top three pairs. First, Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler put USC on the board with a two-set victory at the No. 3 position. Sophie Bukovec and Alexa Strange followed suit, defeating their opponents in three sets to give the Women of Troy the commanding 2-0 lead. The All-American duo of Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes then clinched their team's 22nd consecutive win with a two-set victory, bringing the pair's season winning streak to an 36. 

No surprise to most, the dynamic duo took home Pac-12 Pair of the Week honors for the third time this season after their performance in Honolulu. 

With the regular season now over, the Trojans will host the first-ever Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Championships from April 28 to May 1. The championships will crown a pairs' winner as well as a team champion which will be awarded an automatic berth to the first-ever NCAA Championship tournament. Be sure to follow @USCBeach for more from Merle Norman Stadium this weekend. 



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When the No. 1 USC women's water polo team jumped into the Uytengsu Aquatics Center pool on Friday afternoon, it had one goal in mind: beat the No. 6 Cal Bears. Thirty-two minutes later however, the Trojans had accomplished much more than that. For just the third time in program history, the Women of Troy finished the regular season with a perfect record, defeating Cal, 11-6, for their 21st victory this year. 

The last time the Trojans went undefeated in regular season play was in 2006, and before that, USC had a perfect record in 2004. This year's squad made it to 21 in dominant form, outscoring opponents
 264 to 91with junior Stephania Haralabidis leading the way with a team-leading 54 goals. 

The Women of Troy's remarkable year is not finished yet however, as the group now turns its attention to  the 2016 MPSF Tournament in which they hold the No. 1 seed. The Trojans will head straight to the semifinal round set for 2:30 p.m. on April 30 in Bakersfield. 

Be sure to follow @USCWaterPolo from updates from the Tournament and more!

Check out the highlights from USC's 21st victory...

Semifinal Sayonara

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

After reaching the Pac-12 championship the last four seasons, the No. 8 USC men's tennis team failed to make it a fifth time, falling in the semifinals to No. 16 Cal, 4-1. The Trojans are now 15-6 on the season with a good chance of heading to the NCAA Tournament, looking for their 10th consecutive trip to the NCAA quarterfinals.

Click here for a full recap from the men's semifinal loss in the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Women of Troy were also competing this weekend in Ojai, California for individual Pac-12 titles. Both Gabby Smith and Giuliana Olmos lost in the semifinals for both singles and doubles. No. 4 Olmos lost to the tournament's top seed on the singles side, while the duo lost to the No. 22 pair from ASU, 6-2.

Click here for a complete recap of the Women of Troy's weekend.

Both the No. 8 USC men's tennis team and the No. 19 USC women's tennis team will now await their NCAA team championship announcement which will come on May 3.


Unbeaten and Unfinished

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The No. 5 USC women's lacrosse team ended its regular season a perfect 17-0 for the first time in the program's four-year history. The Women of Troy swept both No. 3 Stanford and UC Davis this weekend to clinch their first outright regular season title. The 17-game win streak is tied for the longest in MPSF history (Denver, 2014) while the 17 wins in one season is tied for third in league history. The No. 5 Trojans are also one of only two teams still undefeated in the nation.

Click here for a full recap of the Women of Troy's Senior Day victory.

The Trojans began the game with an all-senior lineup, a nod to the hard-working group that lay the program's foundation four years ago. Nine different players scored goals in the game, including seniors Amanda Johansen, Kelsey Dreyer, Maggie Mawhinney and Caroline deLyra. Senior defender Courtney Tarleton scored her first career goal in her final regular season game at McAlister Field.

The perfect regular season is a testimony to the hard work this senior class has put in to turn a new program into an established powerhouse in the MPSF. However, the perfect regular season is not the end of the line for this USC squad. The Women of Troy hold the undisputed top seed in the MPSF tournament and will face the winner of No. 4 UC Davis versus No. 5 Denver in the semifinals on Friday, April 29 at 4:00 p.m. at Stanford.

Click here to see highlights from USC's 14-4 victory over UC Davis on Senior Day.

Check out all the John McGillen photos from Sunday here...

Built From The Ground Up

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

Before 2013, there was no women's lacrosse team at USC. That year, everything changed. It was up to 18 brave women to turn down established programs and create a new tradition as Trojans. Starting from scratch, this group dreamed of what they could accomplish in their careers in Cardinal & Gold. Four years later, as they celebrate Senior Day and aim for an undefeated regular season, three members of USC's inaugural class look back on their experience and program they've helped create.

USC Lacrosse Coach Lindsey Munday:The biggest thing we wanted to do was recruit leaders, people who could and would buy into this vision that we had for the program here and that's not an easy task.

USC Attacker Caroline deLyra: I was recruited to Northwestern when Lindsey was working there, so as soon as she got the job at USC I automatically reached out to her and got a response. Being a part of something new sounded really appealing to me, so that's the reason I decided to take this path.

USC Defender Courtney Tarleton: I remember my mom showed me the article in Lacrosse Magazine that USC was announcing a program. She said I should definitely reach out to them. When you're going to an established program it takes a few years to get into those starting lineups. We all had the opportunity to start as freshmen and I think that's really fun.

USC Midfielder Amanda Johansen: I definitely wanted to be part of a program that built itself from the bottom up. Any of us could have gone to a program that was established at the time, but I thought it was cool to think of beating those programs that were established and become a new powerhouse.

The class had high aspirations, but much work lay ahead to reach the upper echelon of the country's fastest-growing sport. USC opened the 2013 season against No. 1 Northwestern. The Trojans lost, 18-5.

Munday (a former Northwestern star and alumnus): We started out playing one of the top programs in the country in Northwestern. We didn't want just a game to win. We wanted to show the girls where we needed to be, where we wanted to be and where we could be in a short time.

Tarleton: That game taught us a lot and showed us how fast the college game really is because we had never played a top opponent until then.

Munday: A week in I told them, "No more being freshmen. We can't have it. You guys have to play older, act older." We really held them to the standard of a Top 5 program even back then, because we knew what it was going to take. We knew the standards we had to hold them to no matter what, even though they were young. We never relied on the fact that we were a young program.

Tarleton: It was really nice having a big class - 26 total players and 17 freshmen - because it gave you so many different outlets to reach out to. We've just stayed so close over these four years. I think we were really fortunate to have so many people along for the ride.

deLyra: Our first year was pretty much a lot of learning and a lot of coach involvement about what we needed to do. We were basically told as freshmen that we were going to be treated like seniors and held to the same standards as if we were here four years ago.

Munday: As a freshman coming in, you're scared, scared of college lacrosse, and you don't know what to expect. It's really hard to lead your peers, which is what all these players had to do at times. There were definitely hard parts with our youth, but also in holding each other accountable because it's easy for a senior to tell the freshmen and sophomores what to do and what the rules are. But we didn't have that. Once everyone could take a point of accountability themselves and be okay with being told what to do in a positive way, that was the turning point.

Johansen: On the field it was definitely a lot of learning, but off the field it was as well. From where we started to where we ended it's kind of crazy where our friendships have come, how we've all grown together, which is really cool to look at. I think we all look back as to how it was freshman year versus how it is now, and it's crazy to see that transition.

deLyra: I think that when we were freshmen we still had really high expectations. I remember our first day of practice we all had to say a goal that we had, and we all pretty much had the same one: to make it to the Final 4 and be national champions.

Munday: We have lots of stories about the early days, of them just being young and not knowing anything. There were no older players to tell them what to do, to tell them that it's okay to have water and then take a breath before you come back from a drill. It takes a special kind of person to weather those early storms. You're going to go through some rough patches, both on the field and off. So to be able to have these players who stuck it through, who stayed positive and stayed together, their chemistry is just off the charts because they did go through all those things together and needed to rely on one another.


Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

After four years of anchoring the Trojan offensive line, USC OL Max Tuerk is more than prepared for the NFL. The two-year captain brings grit, experience and versatility to the next level after starting 38 games in his career (18 at center, 14 at left guard, five at left tackle and one at right tackle).

Otter Pops Quiz: QB vs WR

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

They say that quarterbacks and wide receivers need to have great chemistry. So, we decided to put QB Max Browne and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster to the test with an Otter Pops quiz and their chemistry is off the charts.

A stable of unstoppable running backs is never a bad problem to have and that's exactly what USC's boasts in the backfield in 2016. Between senior Justin Davis and sophomores Ronald Jones II, Aca'Cedric Ware and Dominic Davis, the Trojans will be a fast and powerful force at the position this fall. 

Davis tallied 902 yards and seven touchdowns as an eight-game starter in 2015. He has 1,858 career yards, and according to head coach Clay Helton, has significantly improved in the pass and pass blocking game this offseason as he looks to lead the running backs this fall. Jones II broke Charles White's USC freshman rushing record last fall, posting a team-best 987 yards and eight touchdowns. Complementing the two leading returners will be Ware and Davis who played as freshmen but will look to breakout further in their sophomore seasons. 

Hunting for the Title

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The No. 8 USC men's tennis team is gearing up for the Pac-12 Tournament this weekend in search of its third title. The Trojans will kick things off in the semifinal round as a No. 2 seed against Cal at 1:00 p.m. on Friday in Ojai, California.

Click her for a preview of the Pac-12 Tournament.

USC is led by No. 23 Max de Vroome, one of team's few returners, along with a slew of newcomers. The Trojans are aiming to repeat as Pac-12 Tournament Champions after defeating Stanford, 4-3, in last year's championship match. All games will be broadcasted on Pac-12 Network with the championship being played on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. Follow @USCMensTennis for live updates throughout the weekend.

Aiming for a Perfect Weekend

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It's setting up to be an exciting weekend at USC as both the No. 1 women's water polo and No. 5 women's lacrosse teams are gunning for perfect regular season records in their final games. Water polo is just one game away from a 21-0 record in 2016 and will look to clinch undefeated status against Cal on Friday at 2 p.m. PT. Lacrosse has two to go to get to 17-0, first on Friday at 4:30 p.m. versus Stanford in the Coliseum, and finally at McAlister Field on Sunday against UC Davis at 12 p.m.

Friday's water polo game will be Senior Day for Melissa Bergesen, Alegra Hueso and Nicola Welch. The Women of Troy have had a stellar 2016 season, outscoring opponents 253-85 through 20 games and leading the MPSF in defense with 4.25 goals allowed per game. Junior Stephanie Haralabidis is USC's top scorer with 50 goals to date while twin sister Ioanna is just behind her with 33 goals this season. The Trojans' match will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

On Sunday, the Women of Troy will celebrate 14 seniors in their final home match, including Courtney Tarleton, Amanda Johansen and Caroline Cordrey, among others. The day should be a very special one as the group has played at USC since the program first began in 2012 and will be USC's inaugural four-year class. The Trojans are one of just two undefeated teams in the country (No. 1 Maryland) and boast the nation's top scoring offense and defense. All-star attacker Michaela Michael leads the conference with 3.57 goals per game and has tallied 52 total this year.

Be sure to come out and support both teams and follow @USCWaterPolo and @USCTrojansLAX for in-game updates, photos and more this weekend!


USC Hoops' Newest Members

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On Friday, USC men's basketball announced the newest member to the Class of 2016, Chicago-area forward Nick Rakocevic as well as the return of Chris Capko who will serve as an assistant coach in 2016.

The 6-foot-10, 215-pound incoming freshman averaged 19.8 points, 14.4 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game as a senior at St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois. He posted a double-double in all 33 starts last season and led his team to the 3A Illinois state title his junior season. 

"Nick's size, versatility and work ethic will be extremely valuable to our roster moving forward," said head coach Andy Enfield. "Nick and his team had an outstanding 2015-16 season and he was impressive with double-doubles in every game. We look forward to adding Nick to our team this summer where he will join his teammates in skill development and strength and conditioning programs."

Rakocevic joins previously announced members of the 2016 Class Jonah Mathews, De'Anthony Melton and Harrison Henderson. 

Capko, who served as the USC Director of Operations during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, returns to the Trojans as an assistant coach after holding the same position at Florida International University last season. Before his first stint at USC, the coach worked as an assistant men's basketball coach at Georgia Southern (2012 and 2013) and Stetson (2010 and 2011). 

"Both the staff and players are excited to have Chris [Capko] rejoin the USC men's basketball program," said Enfield. "He was here at the beginning when we formed the plan for the future of the USC basketball program and we look forward to great things from Chris."

Talented All-American sprinters Ky Westbrook and Just'N Thymes have decided to redshirt the 2016 season for USC Track & Field. Both athletes have dealt with leg injuries beginning in the indoor season, and have not competed outdoors this year.

The sophomore Westbrook (below) finished up the 2015 season by running a wind-aided 11.11 to place fourth in the 100m dash at the NCAA Championships, the third-fastest any condition time ever run by a Trojan in the NCAA finals. She also earned All-American honors in the 4x100m relay which placed third with a time of 43.27.

The senior Thymes had a strong first season at USC last year after transferring from Riverside City College, posting a best of 10.37 in the 100m and a PR of 20.46 in the 200m. He helped the Trojans finish 1-2-3 in the Pac-12 Championships 200m race with a time of 20.75 and earned All-American honors in the 4x100m relay which ran 38.75, the second-fastest time in USC history.


Cotton Bowl Boselli

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

On Friday, USC offensive tackle Tony Boselli was inducted into the 2016 Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame for his performance in the 1995 Classic. The Trojans absolutely dominated Texas Tech in the game, winning 55-14 and setting records for total offense, passing yards, points in one quarter and points in one half. Boselli helped lead the USC offense to a whopping 578 total yards. The two-time All-American was inducted into the Hall of Fame at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas Friday morning along with Fred Akers, Eric Dickerson, Bob Golic, Fred Marshall and Dan Petty.


Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

After turning heads at the 2016 NFL Combine, USC CB Kevon Seymour is eager to bring his speed to an NFL roster. Seymour ran the fastest USC 40-yard dash in over a decade after running a 4.39 this February at the Combine. As a Trojan, the cornerback notched 126 tackles including four for loss, 19 deflections, one fumble recovery and three interceptions. Last season, he was the veteran leader of the Trojans' youthful secondary. 

Back at the helm of USC's defense, Clancy Pendergast is preaching communication, technique and disruption in 2016. The defensive coordinator, who returned to USC this year, directed the best Trojan defense in the past seven years during his last stint in 2013. 

Throughout Spring Ball, Pendergast focused on teaching technique at all levels of the defense, his first step in installing an aggressive system that seeks to "spend more time on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage than ours". 

Streak Ends in Ojai

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

USC_Womens_tennis_UCSB__6571.jpgThe No. 19 USC women's tennis team lost a 4-2 heart-breaker to No. 13 Stanford in a battle for the Pac-12 title on Wednesday, ending its nine-match winning streak. The Women of Troy jumped out to an early lead after winning the doubles point, but couldn't hold on when it came down to the wire in singles play.

Click here for a full recap from Wednesday's loss. 

The Women of Troy were treated to dinner with USC athletic director Pat Haden after the match to celebrate their ongoing season (photo below)

The Trojans are now 12-5 entering the NCAA team championships with the bracket being announced on May 3. Currently, USC is competing in the Pac-12 singles and doubles championships, which also take place in Ojai, through April 24. Be sure to follow @USCWomensTennis for match updates, photos and more. 

On Saturday, April 30, Dedeaux Field belongs to the kids. USC baseball will host Arizonaat 2 p.m. and we are offering our second "Kids Take Over the Ballpark" package for only $25 which includes two tickets (adult and youth), youth t-shirt, a mini USC baseball helmet with ice cream, USC baseball trading cards, two food vouchers and much more.

We Are The Champions

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The No. 2 USC women's golf team is the 2016 Pac-12 Tournament Champions, defeating crosstown rival UCLA by three strokes on Wednesday afternoon. This is the program's sixth conference title and fifth tournament win this season. The Women of Troy led the entire tournament with all five golfers finishing at par or better. It's the program's first championship since 2013 when it went on to win the NCAA Championship as well. 

Click here for a full recap of the Women of Troy's Pac-12 Championship.

All five USC golfers finished in the top 18, with junior Gabriella Then leading the pack with a third-place finish. It was her first top 10 finish since the season-opener in September. The Women of Troy will now advance to the NCAA Regional Championships May 5-7, looking for its nation-best seventh straight regional championship and 12th overall.

#FightOn Camps 2016

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Train like a Trojan and learn from the best at this summer's Fight On Football Camps conducted by USC head coach Clay Helton and his staff. Seven football camps for high school, elementary school and post-high school players will be held in June on Howard Jones Field, the on-campus practice fields for the USC football team. 


2016 NFL Draft Preview: Soma Vainuku

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Any NFL team seeking a versatile player can find the perfect match in USC FB Soma Vainuku. As a Trojan, he rushed for 148 yards on 24 carries (6.2 average) with three touchdowns along with 17 receptions for 124 yards (7.3 average) with one touchdown. Vainuku is also a menace on special teams with two punt returns for 16 yards, 38 tackles, three blocked punts and a fumble recovery. 

The 2016 NFL Draft begins on April 28 at 5 p.m. PT and continues through April 30 on both ESPN and the NFL Network. 

A Century of Greatness on the Diamond

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

In honor of its 100th year of existence, the Pac-12 is releasing its All-Century teams for its respective sports. On Monday, it released its All-Century baseball team with six Trojan players and one coach making the cut. USC also earned special recognition for Player of the Century and Coach of the Century with pitcher Mark Prior and legendary Trojan head coach Rod Dedeaux earning those honors respectively.

Prior dominated the conference in the early 2000s, winning 25 games and averaging 11.5 strikeouts with just 2.1 walks per nine innings. He was only the second collegian to sweep every National Player of the Year award in 2001 and was also the first Trojan to win the Golden Spikes Award in 2001 for setting a Pac-10 record with 202 strikeouts and just 18 walks.

Rod Dedeaux is a Trojan legend, coaching USC to 11 NCAA titles from 1942-1986 and finishing his coaching career as the winningest baseball coach in NCAA Division 1-A with a record of 1,332 wins, 571 losses and 11 ties. Throughout his career, Dedeaux was named the Coach of the Year by the College Baseball Coaches Association six times and eventually was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1970.

Click here for the full list of players on the baseball Pac-12 All-Century team.

The Trojans are represented by Dedeaux and Prior along with pitchers Tom Seaver and Randy Johnson, outfielder Fred Lynn, second baseman Bret Boone, and first baseman Mark McGwire.

Rod Dedeaux 2.jpg

Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

For the first time in two years, the USC football coaching staff has a decision to make at the quarterback position. The battle for the starting job between Max Browne, Sam Darnold, Jalen Greene and Matt Fink was competitive throughout Spring Ball and on Monday, head coach Clay Helton announced that the battle will continue into the fall.

Browne and Darnold are the two frontrunners for the QB1 title. Browne, the redshirt junior, brings the most experience, appearing in three games as a redshirt sophomore and six as a redshirt freshman. He's completed 11-of-19 passes for 143 yards in his career, and last Saturday in the Spring Game, he completed 7-of-11 for 114 yards and three touchdowns.

After redshirting his freshman year, Darnold came into the spring ready to take the starting spot as a dual-threat talent under center. His speed and arm strength has impressed the coaching staff, making the decision for the starting role a difficult one. In the Spring Game, the redshirt freshman threw for 63 yards on 6-of-7 passing with two touchdowns.

Whoever Helton and his staff decide to go with will have a tough career opener against Alabama on September 3. But with the weapons USC boasts on offense surrounding him and an experienced offensive line in front, the Trojans' next starting quarterback has a promising year ahead.

Who will be USC's next QB? #AllAboutBall #FightOn

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Spring Football has ended, and now the countdown to September begins. 

Don't miss any of the action in the Trojans' exciting upcoming season in the Coliseum. Enter to win two 2016 season tickets by clicking here

Leading the Pac

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The No. 2 USC women's golf team entered the second day of competition at the Pac-12 Tournament with a comfortable four-stroke lead, and it finished the day with an even more comfortable 13-stroke lead at 23-under at 553 after 36 holes. Junior Gabriella Then led the Women of Troy with a career-best 7-under 65, and she leads the entire tournament by one stroke, looking to become USC's seventh Pac-12 medalist.

Click here for a full recap of the second day of the Pac-12 Tournament.

No. 4 UCLA and No. 11 Arizona are the two teams trailing USC, tied for second in the tournament at 10-under. The Women of Troy's 275 performance on Tuesday broke the school record for lowest overall score at the Pac-12 Tournament, and the team had its second straight school-record round for most under par.

The Women of Troy are back in action at the Ruby Hills Golf Course for day three of competition on Wednesday, looking for their first Pac-12 Tournament since 2013.

Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

USC's Antwaun Woods was the heart and soul of the Trojan defense. Now, the defensive tackle is looking to give one NFL team that same spark. Woods finished his collegiate career with 113 tackles, including 14.5 for loss with eight sacks on 33 career starts, earning him an All-Pac-12 first team nomination.

Novy Notches Things Up

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For the second time this season, USC senior Tera Novy is the Pac-12's Women's Field Athlete of the Week after breaking her own school record in the discus yet again last week at the CSULA Twilight Meet. Her new mark of 200-5 (61.10) meets the Olympic qualifying A standard and is the best current collegiate throw in the nation.


Even Faster

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It looks like the already elite USC women's track & field team will be getting even faster next year with the addition of Canadian sprinter Kyra Constantine to the 2016 recruiting class on Tuesday. The 400m-running top talent joins six other previously-signed members of the Women of Troy's incoming class.

Constantine placed fourth with a personal best time of 52.44 in the 400m finals at the 2015 World Youth Championships in Colombia last year. The Ontario native was the ninth-fastest U20 women's 400m runner in the world last season and the youngest in the Top 10. 

Spring Breakdown: Offensive Linemen

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

USC returns its entire starting offensive line from last season and boasts several experienced reserves, combining for one of the most formidable and highly-anticipated position groups on the roster this fall.  The group is adjusting to new leadership once again, its fifth change in the last five years, as OL coach Neil Callaway continues to preach a culture of toughness on the practice field and in the film room.

The line is led by veteran Zach Banner who made the hard decision to return for his final year of eligibility. The 6-foot-9 redshirt senior played both right and left tackle for the Trojans last season, earning a spot on the All-Pac-12 first team. Banner is joined by the most experienced offensive lineman, redshirt senior Chad Wheeler, who could potentially start for his fourth season at left tackle this fall.

Accompanying these two veterans are several talented, young linemen that earned their stripes as freshman starters. Toa Lobendahn is easily the most versatile of the group, starting at right guard, left guard, left tackle and center in his career. Though he's recovering from last season's ACL tear, the junior will look to recapture his starting spot at center come August. Rounding out the starting line are guards Damien Mama (left) and Viane Talamaivao (right) with plenty of competition behind them trying to notch a starting spot.

In 2016, USC's entire starting offensive line returns with a wealth of experience behind it. #FightOn #AllAboutBall

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Top-Notch Twosome

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Awards keep rolling in for the No. 1 USC beach volleyball team, the latest going to the No. 2 pair of Sophia Bukovec and Alexa Strange who earned Pac-12 Beach Pair of the Week honors for the first time this season. The duo wrapped up a perfect 4-0 week including three straight wins at the Cowtown Classic without dropping a set. This marks the fourth different USC pair to win the award in program history.

Click here for a full release on Bukovec and Strange's Pac-12 Beach Pair of the Week honors.

The pair secured the clinching point in the Women of Troy's hard-fought 4-1 victory over No. 2 Pepperdine last week, and it has won 15 of its last 17 matches. In total this season, Bukovec/Strange have won 24 matches. The No. 2 pair will look to continue their hot streak this weekend in Hawaii.


Not only does USC boast world-class athletes, but world-class student-athletes as well. Each month, we will profile one of these outstanding Trojans who has chosen to pursue coursework in either the science, technology, engineering or math field (STEM).

Name: Rebekah Ent
Sport: Track & Field
Year: RS Sophomore
Major: Psychology

Sarah Bergstrom (SB): So how did you end up here? I know you were at UCSB first, so what brought you to USC?

Rebekah Ent (RE): UC Santa Barbara is a pretty small school, kind of isolated. We're on the coast and nothing else is really around us. So USC being in a big city is definitely what brought me here. And obviously the track team is super good and I did well last season, and so I wanted to step up my track career. I think there's just a lot more opportunities here too, just in terms of the great alumni program here. There's so many opportunities that not only being an athlete brings here, but just being a student here, meeting a bunch of people. 

SB: Did you do cross country and track at UCSB too?

RE: Yeah, I was injured my first year and then my second year I just raced one cross country race, so I wasn't really on the team because I was still coming back. And then I did a full season of track.

SB: Okay, got it. Going from cross country to then racing an 800 is obviously super different. What is that like for you during a year of training? How do you prepare yourself for a much shorter race when track starts?

RE:I think cross country is a great base for track. It gives me really good endurance going into the season and having so many longer workouts and miles under my belt going into season makes me feel really strong for track. And then obviously when I get to track season, adding in all of the speed work, I think it compliments my training well. So I have a good base and I feel confident that I'm not going to get injured because I'm strong going into all the faster stuff. I've started running the 1500 more this year so they're more closely related.

SB: Do you view track, and specifically the 1500, more of a focus for you and cross country as your preparation? Or is it pretty equal in the way that you look at it?

RE: Yeah, I've always been a track person. In high school I ran the 400 and 800. I ran one year of cross country in high school, so I really wasn't a cross country person. But I've learned that it's only going to help me get better for track. I used to be kind of scared of cross country (laughs)but now I know it's going to help me.

SB: On the school side of things, did you declare as a psychology major when you first started or was that something that kind of came along way?

So I was a communications major actually at Santa Barbara and then I worked in a psych lab starting my second year there. I had this amazing professor and started working for her in her lab.

SB: Just by chance you took a psych class?

RE: Yeah, I took a psych class over the summer and the professor and I hit it off. She was super cool, super into what she did, and I was super interested in helping her out and getting involved. So I worked in her virtual reality lab. I did that all of my second year, so that switched me over to psych. I was not really sure about communications anyway. When I started working in that lab I knew I wanted to do psych, so I changed then.

SB: So is virtual reality what you want to get into or what do you think you want to do with psychology down the road?

RE: No, not specifically that, but a lot of the studies she ran in her lab had to do with exercise and how you physiologically respond to exercise, in combination with different goals. So if your goals change how does that affect your physiological exercise. So that really intrigues me, being an athlete. I don't know, I think I definitely want to do something with that looking at maybe a Master's program in maybe applied psychology or getting a PhD down the road.

Five For the Freshman

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

There are plenty of reasons why USC women's water polo is undefeated and the top ranked team in the nation. While the team may be known for its offensive prowess, they've gotten equally terrific contributions from the defensive side of the ball.

Goalie Amanda Longan (pictured) has been a huge part of the Trojans' success since the start of the season, and her skill in front of the net may have you looking twice at her age on the roster.  After the Trojans' 20th-straight win last weekend, the goalie earned MPSF Newcomer of the Week honors for the fifth time this season. In the Women of Troy's most recent victory over Stanford Longan set a career-high with 17 saves.


Early Favorites

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The No. 2 USC women's golf team is off to a comfortable four-stroke lead at the Pac-12 Tournament, after all five competitors scored under par in the opening round on Monday. The Women of Troy are on a quest for their sixth conference title, the last time being in 2013 when they went on to win the NCAA Championship.

Click here for a full recap from the first round at the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Trojans wrapped up the opening round at 10-under 278, four strokes ahead of No. 4 UCLA and seven better than No. 10 Arizona State. The 278 opening round ties USC's best score at the Tournament dating back to the final round of the 2009 Pac-12 Tournament versus Stanford. Junior Tiffany Chan led the Women of Troy with a 67, her fourth round below 70 this season, and she trails the leader by just one stroke. Her 67 round is tied for the third lowest round in USC's history at the Pac-12 Championships.

The Women of Troy return to the links on Tuesday paired up again with crosstown rival UCLA at the Ruby Hills Golf Course in Pleasanton, California. Be sure to follow @USCWomensGolf for updates all week long!

After setting records at USC, quarterback Cody Kessler is ready to make his mark at the next level. A starter at Troy for three years, Kessler will discover his NFL home at the 2016 NFL Draft which begins in nine days. 

The Trojans' all-time leader in career completion percentage (67.5), Kessler accumulated 10,339 yards and 88 touchdowns in his career. The two-year captain was also a finalist for the 2014 and 2015 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Awards. Per several draft insiders, Kessler has met with and/or worked out for the Lions, Saints, Browns, Patriots, Rams and Chargers.

Another One Bites the Dust

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The No. 5 USC women's lacrosse team narrowly escaped the No. 6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish on the road in South Bend on Monday afternoon with a 5-4 victory. The Women of Troy remain a perfect 15-0 this year and will look to finish the regular season undefeated for the first time in program history this weekend at home. USC is now just one of two teams that remains undefeated in the nation, and this victory is the team's fourth over a ranked opponent this year.

Click here for a complete recap from USC's narrow victory over Notre Dame.

The teams entered Monday's match with two of the top five scoring offenses in the nation, but the game would be decided by the defensive effort in the historic first meeting between the two programs. Sophomore goalie and MPSF Defensive Player of the Week, Gussie Johns, finished with double-digit saves (10) for the first time this season in the Trojans' win and added four ground balls. Senior defender Courtney Tarleton also contributed with a program-record six forced turnovers and a ground ball and sophomore midfielder Lydia Sutton added a pair of turnovers and two ground balls. Scoring goals for the Women of Troy were junior Michaela Michael (two goals), junior Cynthia Del Core, junior Kylie Drexel and senior Amanda Johansen.

The 15-0 Trojans will put their undefeated regular season on the line this weekend, first on Friday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum versus the No. 9 Stanford Cardinal at 4:30 p.m. PT. and then on Sunday for Senior Day against UC Davis at 12:00 p.m on McAlister Field.

Check out the rapid reaction from the USC women's lacrosse team after defeating Notre Dame...

Announced on Monday after speaking with his four quarterbacks, USC head coach Clay Helton has chosen to wait to name a starter, and will continue to evaluate the position into Fall Camp. This decision comes on the heels of a competitive Spring Ball session that featured two frontrunners for the starting spot in redshirt junior Max Browne and redshirt freshman Sam Darnold.

"There were a number of open positions on our team this spring where players performed very well, including the quarterbacks," said Helton.  "I met with them today and told them that, based on how well they played, I have decided to continue the quarterback competition into Fall Camp.  I will wait until then to name a starter."

Browne will enter Fall Camp as the most experienced quarterback on USC's roster, appearing in three games as a redshirt sophomore and six as a redshirt freshman. He has completed 11-of-19 passes for 143 yards in his career. This spring, Browne was praised by Helton and the rest of the coaching staff for his maturity, poise and accuracy. In USC's Spring Game last Saturday, the quarterback was 7-of-11 for 114 yards and three touchdowns. 

After a redshirt season last fall, Darnold enters 2016 as a promising dual-threat talent under center. The redshirt freshman has impressed coaches all spring with his speed, field awareness and arm strength. On Saturday, Darnold was 6-of-7 for 63 yards and two touchdowns. 

The duo will continue to battle with Jalen Greene and Matt Fink for the USC starting quarterback job this August when Fall Camp begins. 


For Johnny Nansen, the LB position is home, and in 2016, the coach is ready to take the USC corps to the next level. 

Nansen spent last season as USC's running backs coach, but will switch to a new role this season on the other side of the ball. However, having played three years at the position in college, he brings plenty of experience. This spring, Nansen worked hard with his group on fundamentals and technique, laying the groundwork for a promising fall. 

Peaking at Mt. SAC

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The USC men's and women's track teams joined former and future Trojans at the Mt. SAC Relays at Cerritos College on Saturday with sophomores Kendall Ellis and Ricky Morgan Jr. and senior Jaide Stepter (pictured) winning events for Troy. The current Trojans seem to be peaking at just the right time as they head into the final lap of their outdoor regular season. Ellis defeated former Trojan All-Americans Carol Rodriguez and Vanessa Jones in the 400m dash with a PR of 51.82, while Morgan won the men's 400m dash with a time of 46.43. Ellis' time moves her from eighth to fifth on USC's all-time list, but she's still behind her teammate, Jaide Stepter's time of 50.91 that is best in the nation.

Click here for a full recap from the Mt. SAC Relays.

Stepter and fellow senior Amalie Iuel finished first and second in the women's invite 400m IH race, both with season-best times of 55.90 and 56.37 respectively. Freshman Margaux Jones also got a PR with a wind-aided mark of 21-2.75/6.47m (+3.4w) in the long jump, finishing second overall.

Sophomore sensation Adoree' Jackson tied his season-best long jump of 25-8.00/7.82m (+1.9) finishing in fourth place.  Fellow sophomore Randall Cunningham also finished fourth but in the high jump, behind USC record-holder and Olympian Jesse Williams, who won the event with a clearance of 7-3.25 (2.23m).

The other Trojan alumni competing in the relays included Andre de Grasse, Ginnie Crawford, BeeJay Lee, Allyson Felix and Bryshon Nellum.

Stepter and Iuel at Mt SACkl.jpg

Perfect in the Pac

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

As a part of a doubleheader with the men's team on Sunday, USC women's tennis took care of its match-up against the women of UCLA with a 4-1 victory at Marks Stadium. The win saw the No. 21 Women of Troy improve to 12-4 on the year, as well as a perfect 7-0 in Pac-12 play. The Trojans also gained five points in the annual Crosstown Cup standings with the overall score now 75-60 in favor of USC.

USC jumped out to an early lead by taking the doubles point. The top pairing of Giuliana Olmos and Gabby Smith (pictured) won their doubles match, 6-3, and soon after the doubles point was clinched by the freshman duo of Jessica Failla and Rianna Valdes, who won 6-3 as well. In fact, it was a pretty big day for the two freshmen overall.

While Failla and Valdes have only played one season apiece at USC, they both are making quite the statement on the court already. Valdes was the first to win her singles match on Sunday, taking her match 6-2, 6-3. While one freshman got things started, the other closed things out, as Failla clinched the dual match victory with a 6-2, 6-4 win of her own.

While the Women of Troy were able to take down their rivals, the men fell 4-2 in a tight match against the No. 4 Bruins.

Following their victory over UCLA, there's even more on the line this week when the Women of Troy travel to Ojai, Calif. to face Stanford for the Pac-12 crown on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. PT. Be sure to follow @USCWomensTennis for in-match updates, photos and more on Wednesday. 

Check out all the John McGillen photos from Sunday...

14 And Counting

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

womens lax ranking.jpgUSC's women's lacrosse has had a remarkable season to date and strengthened its undefeated record on the road this past weekend in a battle against No. 12 Northwestern.

Not even the Wildcats had enough to stop the Women of Troy, who remained perfect on the season with a 14-11 win at Martin Stadium on Friday. The win brought the Trojans to an unblemished 14-0 record, and with the victory they matched the program's highest-ever win total, which was set last year.

Click here for a full recap of the win at Northwestern.

Michaela Michael ran the show for the newly-ranked No. 5 Women of Troy, collecting four points with a goal and three assists. The junior attacker also had seven draw controls on the day. The No. 5 ranking is the program's best-ever and the highest for any MPSF team in the history of the conference. 

To set a school record with win No. 15, and remain undefeated on the year, the Trojans will have to defeat No. 6 Notre Dame on the road today. The game will by be played at Arlotta Stadium and begin at 1 p.m. PT. It will also be streamed live on ESPN3. Be sure to follow @USCTrojansLAX for in-game updates and more!
It was a picture-perfect day at the Coliseum on Saturday for USC's Spring Game in front of 20,000 Trojan fans. From two JuJu Smith-Schuster touchdowns to Jake Olson's first snap on the Coliseum field, John McGillen was in the house to capture every moment. 

Check out his photos here...

Cowtown Champions

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The USC beach volleyball team spent the weekend in Texas at the Cowtown Classic, defeating tournament host TCU in a 5-0 sweep on Saturday, marking the Women of Troy's third consecutive sweep and 13th of the season. USC went a perfect 3-0 over the weekend, also defeating New Mexico and Louisiana-Monroe. The Women of Troy expanded their winning streak to 19 duals in a row with No. 1 pair Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes lengthening their winning streak to 56 straight victories, dating back to last season.

Click here for a complete recap of USC's victory over TCU to conclude the Cowtown Classic.

The Women of Troy will head to Hawaii this weekend (April 22-23) for the Outrigger Resorts Aloha Invitational to face a competitive field in No. 5 Hawaii, No. 6 Long Beach State, No. 9 Florida International, Washington, Grand Canyon and Louisiana-Monroe. They'll return to host the inaugural Pac-12 Tournament at home beginning on April 28.


The Road to Perfection

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

No. 1 USC women's water polo continued its dominance in the pool with an 8-3 victory over No. 3 Stanford on Saturday to improve to an outstanding 20-0 record on the season. The battle against the Cardinal was a key MPSF victory for the Women of Troy who are looking to close out a perfect regular season with one more home match this Friday.

Click here for a complete game recap from Saturday's win over Stanford.

The Cardinal never stood a chance as USC jumped out to an early 3-0 lead with Stanford staying at least two goals behind the entire match. The Women of Troy are now 5-0 in MPSF play, while the Cardinal suffered their first conference loss. Sophomore Hayley McKelvey led the Trojans with her second hat trick of the season, while the Haralabidis twins combined for three goals to give USC the edge over Stanford.

The victory secured a first-round bye in the MPSF Tournament for the Women of Troy and earned them the No. 1 seed for the tournament that will take place in Bakersfield, California at the end of the month. USC will compete in its final regular season game this Friday at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center against Cal at 2 p.m. with the MPSF match being broadcasted on Pac-12 Networks.


2016 Spring Game: Recap

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The Trojans officially wrapped up Spring Ball at the 2016 Spring Game on Saturday. Over 20 thousand fans got their first glimpse at the 2016 Trojans on a beautiful day at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Click on the photo below to see our Slate recap of Saturday's Spring Game.

USC Spring Game 2016

Double Doubles

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Ten points and a lot of pride are on the line this Sunday when No. 9 USC men's and No. 21 USC women's tennis host an unprecedented doubleheader against UCLA at Marks Stadium. Beginning at 12:30, both teams will play simultaneous doubles against the Bruins. At 1:30, the men's team will take on UCLA in singles with both women's teams facing each other in singles afterwards to conclude the day. 

All four teams are in contention for Pac-12 titles as they approach their final regular season dual match of the season this Saturday. UCLA men's tennis is 6-0 just ahead of the Trojan men who are 5-1. While both teams still have to play in the Pac-12 Championships next week, the victor of the game on Sunday will receive the No. 1 seed. Senior Max De Vroome, the 19th-best player in the country, leads the Trojans with 28 singles wins on the year. 

Led by the nation's 24th-best player, Giuliana Olmos, the Women of Troy are undefeated at 6-0 (three matches were cancelled by rain), while the UCLA women are 6-2 (with one match cancelled by rain). Sunday's game could determine the 2016 Pac-12 champions if the Trojans are able to beat the Bruins and Cal (7-0) loses to Stanford on Saturday. If Cal defeats Stanford, the Trojans and Bears will clash on Wednesday before the individual Pac-12 Championships begin to determine the 2016 Pac-12 team champions. 

Be sure to follow @USCMensTennis and @USCWomensTennis for in-match updates and more on Sunday! 

Sweet Sixteen

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No. 1 USC beach volleyball defeated No. 2 Pepperdine, 4-1, to make it 16 straight victories for the reigning national champions. The Women of Troy are now 20-2 on the season.

Click here for the recap.

The Senior Day celebration, which honored Alexa Strange, Zoe Nightingale and Emily Young, set off an exultant evening at Merle Norman Stadium as the Women of Troy beat its rival by the largest margin of victory since March 25, 2014. The last seven meetings between the Trojans and Waves, including one of USC's two losses this season, have been decided by a 3-2 margin.

USC hopped on a jet to Texas where the Women of Troy will play New Mexico tonight in Fort Worth. Tomorrow, the Trojans will take on Louisiana-Monroe and host TCU as part of a doubleheader.

Here are the John McGillen photos from the win over Pepperdine:

Moving the Mark

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Members of the USC Track & Field team are competing in four different meets this weekend, and senior thrower Tera Novy got the Trojans off to a superb start, breaking her own school record in the discus and achieving an Olympic qualifying A standard to finish second at the CSULA Twilight Meet in Los Angeles on Thursday. Competition will continue at the CSULA Twilight Meet as well as the Mt. SAC Relays, Pacific Coast Intercollegiate and the Beach Invitational all weekend. 

Novy's first throw of the day was marked at 200-1 (61.00m) which broke her own school record by nearly three and a half feet and met the Olympic qualifying A standard of 61.00. But she came out even stronger in her third throw, launching the discus which an even better record of 200-5 (61.10m) to finish in second behind 2012 NCAA Champion Whitney Ashley. 

Freshman Nathan Bullman also started off the weekend with a strong throwing performance, setting a personal record in the hammer throw at the Mt. SAC Relays with a mark of 191-4 (58.32m) in his first attempt. 

Be sure to follow @USC_Track_Field for updates and photos from all four meets this weekend!

Novy next to discus marker.jpg

Jovanovic Seizes Opportunity

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USC men's basketball rising senior Nikola Jovanovic has declared for the 2016 NBA Draft, but he is not hiring an agent yet.

"Testing the waters presents a big opportunity for me and I'm really excited about what comes next," Jovanovic Tweeted.

Like Julian Jacobs, Jovanovic is taking advantage of the rule change which now allows players to go through the draft evaluation process and return to school as long as they don't sign with an agent. The deadline to return is May 25.

"I have full support from coach Enfield and the whole athletic department for what I am really grateful for," the power forward from Serbia said on Twitter. "In regards to finishing school, I will be getting my degree this summer."

Jovanovic is a three-year starter who averaged 12.1 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per game this season. He is the 36th player in USC history to score 1,000 or more points in a career.


2016 Spring Practice #14: Notes

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The Trojans were greeted by a special guest during their final practice on Howard Jones and Brian Kennedy Fields this spring.
  • New USC athletic director Lynn Swann addressed the team after a nice introduction from head coach Clay Helton. Swann impressed upon the Trojans the need to maximize their potential on and off the field. He wants every student-athlete to graduate, win championships and enjoy the entirety of the USC experience.
  • Helton on Swann: "He exudes what the Trojan spirit is about. He's going to do a fabulous, fabulous job."
  • LB Osa Masina came away impressed by his first meeting with Swann. "He's a great guy," Masina said. "It's the first time I've heard him talk. I look up to him already. Obviously, he has a great history here. What I took away from him was always keep your head up and always look forward, don't look back. Try new things."
  • Helton provided a final injury report before the Spring Game on Saturday (3 p.m. at the Coliseum). CB Jonathan Lockett (concussion) and S John Plattenburg (ankle) are expected to be out. OL Clayton Johnston (concussion) will be available on a limited basis. DL Noah Jefferson, LB John Houston and LB Osa Masina will play.
  • The head coach also clarified statements that he made about the quarterback competition. He is open to the possibility of not making a decision on the starting quarterback until Fall Camp.
  • Outside of the quarterbacks, the defensive line has been the story of Spring Football. With Kenny Bigelow out injured for the season, sophomore Noah Jefferson becomes an important piece in the trenches. "I feel like I've had to grow up fast because I'm the only one that's started on the defensive line," said Jefferson. "But it's just part of it, everyone has to do it. And so far it's been good."
  • Having recovered from a back injury which plagued him this spring, Jefferson is now focusing on "flexibility and hand placement." Like most of the defensive players, he is excited about the opportunities in Clancy Pendergast's defense. "He has more of a get-to-the-ball scheme, more of a TFL scheme, rather than sitting in the backfield like we did last year in the 3-4. I really like the defense that he has going. It's aggressive."
  • In Pendergast's system, the middle linebacker is not the only quarterback. The safeties are relied upon to communicate as well and senior Leon McQuay III has thrived in the veteran role this spring. "We're just trying to get everybody on board," he said. "Right now it's not really an individual thing, it's a team thing."
  • Helton laid out the plan for the Spring Game. The defense is too thin and banged up to play a full scrimmage, so the coaches will create situational live football periods. Here is Helton with more:

Hip Hip Hongping

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USC head diving coach Hongping Li, an 11-time Pac-12 Women's Diving Coach of the Year, was honored in 2016 as the Pac-12 Men's Diving Coach of the Year. The coach directed Trojan men's divers to a pair of Pac-12 titles, seven Pac-12 finalist spots and an All-American showing at the NCAAs this season. It is the second time in his 17-year career that Li has been awarded the honor for men's diving. 


DeRozan's Year

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DeMar DeRozan set the pace for Trojans in the NBA this season, leading the Toronto Raptors to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Along the way, DeRozan became the second leading scorer in franchise history.

Now in his seventh year, DeRozan averaged a career-high 23.5 points per game. He earned an All-Star nod for the second time in his career.

While DeRozan is getting prepared for a first round match-up with the Indiana Pacers, the other five USC men's basketball alums in the NBA are headed to the offseason. Taj Gibson (8.6 ppg and 6.9 rpg) had another productive campaign for the Bulls, and Nikola Vucevic (18.2 ppg and 8.8 rpg) continued his solid play for the Magic.


Peaking for Postseason

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No. 1 USC men's golf finished the regular season strong with a second place showing at the Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz. The Trojans had four different golfers in the invidual Top 10 led by Jonah Texeira, Rico Hoey and Andrew Levitt (pictured) who all finished in a tie for fourth.

Click here for the complete recap.

"We had a solid regular season. We had three wins and saw very good play out of our entire starting lineup," USC head coach Chris Zambri said. "We are ready for a big finish to our year. The three biggest events by far lay ahead. Our season basically starts anew at the Pac-12 Championship."

The conference tournament begins on April 29, and the three-day championship will be hosted by Utah in Salt Lake City. After that, USC will look to qualify for the NCAA Championships, which are also out west in Eugene, Oregon (May 27 to June 1).


Another Pac-12 All-Star

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USC women's volleyball senior libero Taylor Whittingham will travel to China this June as a member of the 2016 Pac-12 All-Star team, the latest of three Trojans in the last four years to earn a spot on the prestigious annual trip. The group of 12 talented student-athletes from around the conference will depart for Shanghai on June 19 to play Chinese teams in three of the country's major cities before returning home on July 1. 

"I am excited for this special and unique opportunity," said Whittingham, who joins Natalie Hagglund and Samantha Bricio as the third Trojan named to the Pac-12 All-Star team since its inaugural trip in 2013. "I am looking forward to meeting and getting to know players from the other great programs in our conference and to experience a new country in such a unique way. It's definitely nice to be able to branch out, and to be able to do it this way is something I never could have imagined."

The tour is another milestone for Pac-12 Global, an initiative to promote goodwill and transformative life experiences through student-athlete exchanges and sport, and to showcase the Conference and its member institutions in China. 

Academic Awesomeness

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On Wednesday, the NCAA announced that more than 1,000 Division I teams earned Public Recognition Awards for posting Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores in the top 10 percent of their sports. USC had an all-time-best four teams earn Public Recognition Awards: baseball, men's volleyball, women's cross country and women's tennis.

To see all 1,071 teams receiving Public Recognition Awards this year, click here.

"We are very proud of our student-athletes for their accomplishments in the classroom," said Magdi El Shahawy, USC's Senior Associate Athletic Director of Student-Athlete Services. "We have not only seen improvements in our overall GPA's but have also seen the same improvement in our APR scores that measure eligibility and retention for all scholarship student-athletes on each team over a four-year period.

The APR is an annual scorecard of academic achievement calculated for all Division I sports teams nationally. The scores required to be in the top 10 ranged from 983 to 1,000 depending on the sport. All teams' APR scores will be released on April 20.

"Having four teams receive Public Recognition Awards acknowledging their APR's as among the best in their respective sports nationally is quite an accomplishment," said El Shahawy. "In the soon to be released APR, two-thirds of our teams will meet or exceed their APR scores from last year, and in reviewing our APR scores we see an upward trend. Eighty percent of our teams' single-year APR scores for the past academic year meet or exceed their single-year APR scores four years ago, which should lead to even more improved scores next year."


Swann's Reintroduction

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Lynn Swann was introduced to the media this morning by President Max Nikias as USC's eighth athletic director.

Welcome Home Swanny

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lynn-quote.jpgThe Trojan Family rejoiced at the announcement that Lynn Swann will return to Heritage Hall as the next athletic director. He will be introduced to the media by President Max Nikias at a press conference on Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m., which we will stream live.

Here is a sampling of the reaction from Trojans on Twitter:

Coliseum Safety Enhancements

For those attending the USC Spring Game on Saturday at the Coliseum or any game this upcoming fall, please read the below safety enhancements which will go into effect at the stadium entry this week.

To provide a safer environment for the public and significantly expedite guest entry into the venue, the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will implement a new clear bag policy this year that limits the size and type of bags that may be brought into the Coliseum for all events.

Click here for more.

The clear bag policy affects the type and size of the bags permitted into the stadium -- not the items (keys, makeup, combs, phones, wallets, and credit cards) that you would normally bring to a game. Guests can still carry these items in their pockets. Guests will also be allowed to openly carry a blanket or jackets into the stadium, though they will be subject to search. For the fastest way to enter the stadium, we strongly encourage guests to not bring any type of bags, but if you must, outlined below are the specific types of bags that will be allowed inside the venue:
  • One bag that is clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and does not exceed 12" by 6" and 12" or
  • A one-gallon clear plastic storage bag (Ziploc bag or similar).
  • In addition to one of the clear bags noted above, guests may also carry in a small clutch bag or purse approximately the size of a hand, with or without a handle or strap.
  • An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection.
Prohibited bags include, but are not limited to: purses larger than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch bags, luggage of any kind, oversized seat cushions with pockets or metal structures, computer bags and camera bags or any bag larger than the permissible size.

These measures are designed to promote public safety while encouraging guests to limit the items they bring into the venue to create a more efficient screening and entry process. We ask that all items are visible when entering the venue. The fewer items that are concealed, the quicker the process becomes.


Spring Forward - Ronnie Bradford

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New USC secondary coach Ronnie Bradford is tasked with turning prospects into playmakers.

As a hand-picked assistant by defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, Bradford knows the pressure schemes that the Trojans will employ at the line of scrimmage, which means the USC defensive backs will be forced to hold up in one-on-one coverage at times. Even more, they need to match the physicality and aggressiveness of the rest of the defense.

It Took A Team

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USC men's basketball is on the rise after returning to the NCAA Tournament this season despite the media projecting the Trojans to finish 10th in the Pac-12. By coming together as one, USC exceeded expectations to knock off a Top 10 Arizona team, sweep UCLA over three contests and energize the Trojan Family to fill the Galen Center again.

The program celebrated its season last night at the annual men's basketball banquet with nine different Trojans picking up awards. Here are the winners:

The Harold Jones Award (Most Improved) - Julian Jacobs
Bob Boyd Award (Top Rebounder) - Nikola Jovanovic
Ryan Francis Scholarship Award (Example of Being a Trojan) - Bennie Boatwright & Chimezie Metu
Bill Sharman Award (Top FT Percentage) - Katin Reinhardt
Forrest F. Twogood Award (Best Defensive Player) - Jordan McLaughlin
Dr. James Zumberge Award (Top GPA) - Samer Dhillon
John Rudometkin Award (110% Effort) - Strahinja Gavrilovic
Ernie Holbrook Award (Most Inspirational) - Darion Clark

Along with honoring the players, head coach Andy Enfield paid tribute to outgoing athletic director Pat Haden and his wife Cindy Haden, who both received standing ovations. Here are the Pierson Clair photos:

All-Century Steve

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

playerofthecentury-johnson.jpgThe Pac-12 named USC men's tennis legend Steve Johnson the conference's Player of the Century on Tuesday with five other Trojans earning spots on the sport's All-Century Team. Johnson led USC to four consecutive NCAA Team Championships (2009-12), while earning numerous individual honors over his time in college. He finished his USC tennis career on a 72-match singles win streak that led him to back-to-back NCAA singles titles in 2011 and 2012. The Trojan tennis legend is now competing on the professional circuit with a current No. 32 ATP world ranking.

Click here for a full release on the Trojans' nominated to the All-Century Team.

Joining Johnson on the roster for the Trojans are Alex Olmedo, Rafael Osuna, Dennis Ralston, Stan Smith and Bob Lutz, who are all in the ITA Men's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame. These five USC tennis stars also had successful professional careers with each of the five winning at least one of the four Grand Slams.

The Women of Troy were represented by current volunteer assistant coach Barbara Hallquist DeGroot, who was USC's first female scholarship athlete back in the 1970s. She led the Women of Troy to three consecutive team championships (1977-79) and back-to-back UTSA singles titles in 1976 and 1977.

Swann Named New AD

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USC President Max Nikias announced that Lynn Swann will take over as athletic director, effective July 1.

"To his new role, Lynn Swann will bring the heart and soul of a Trojan," said Nikias. "He shares our profound dedication to combining academic excellence with athletic excellence."

Click here for the full story.

"I am excited about coming back to USC -- its growth and success under President Nikias has been phenomenal and my family and I are looking forward to being a part of that," said Swann. "As athletic director, my goals for the student-athletes will be to graduate, to win and to experience."

Click here for Nikias' letter to the Trojan Family.

Swann comes home to USC with a sterling reputation as a leader, athlete, broadcaster and civic figure. The Super Bowl X MVP parlayed a Hall of Fame football career into a life dedicated to public service, including his role as president of the national board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, an organization with which he was active for more than 30 years.

In 2006, Swann oversaw his Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign--a campaign that drew significant praise for its organization and focus as he attempted to become the first African-American governor in that state's history. He has further sharpened his governance experience in the boardroom as a director of a range of international companies, with previous service on the boards of The H. J. Heinz Company, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, and Hershey Entertainment and Resorts.

Swann, additionally, has emerged as a charismatic motivational speaker, offering an inspiring voice on the importance of assuming responsibility, strong leadership, and maximizing opportunities. He speaks to a wide range of audiences across the country. Recognizing Swann's deftness as a leader, President George W. Bush appointed him as chair of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

"USC opened doors for me," said Swann. "I learned about myself, and my education created a pathway to go forward. I was always looking toward preparing for that career beyond football."

However, the Trojan Family knows him best for his great successes on the gridiron, playing on two Rose Bowl teams and a National Championship team in 1972. He was team captain, most valuable player, and an All-American in 1973.

Swann run out colo14jmc b.jpg

2016 Spring Practice #13: Notes

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The final Tuesday of spring football is in the books.
  • Reminder: The USC Spring Game is Saturday at the Coliseum from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
  • USC head coach Clay Helton made it clear that he will not let the quarterback competition drag into the season opener, but he has not decided yet whether he will announce the starter at the end of spring or wait until Fall Camp. "I'm going to let it go through the Spring Game and then make a decision," Helton explained. "Just being honest, I don't think there's a huge gap between the quarterbacks. I want to take it to the Spring Game, that atmosphere, and see how the guys react."
  • Rising redshirt junior Max Browne is the favorite, having waited his turn for three years, which was "extremely hard" for him, he said. He finds it strange to see Jared Goff, Cal's three-year starter at quarterback who is projected as a top pick in this year's NFL Draft, "ending when I'm starting" since they came into college together. But, Browne expects to be the better for it this fall.
  • USC's previous two quarterbacks, Matt Barkley and Cody Kessler, had opposite mentalities. Barkley was aggressive with the football and grew into efficiency. Kessler was a natural at protecting the ball, but was pushed by the coaches to make more plays downfield. So, where does Browne sit on the spectrum? "My favorite ball is the deep ball," Browne said. "In that regard, I guess I'm a little closer to Barkley if that was the case with him. At the end of the day, Cody did a good job of not turning the ball over and that's crucial. Hopefully, you can take the best of both of them and build it into my game."
  • On Saturday, Browne hopes to recapture the magic of his 2015 Spring Game, which he considered a "turning point" last year. As for Darnold, he is focused on "playing my style of game."
  • Darnold's style incorporates running much more than Browne. The redshirt freshman recognizes that this is a pass-first offense for QBs, but his legs are "another way into something great" and "poses a threat" to the defense.
  • While Darnold recognizes that Browne is the veteran quarterback in the room, he did not take an underdog mentality into this competition. "I definitely took the mentality of being the guy out here as you've got to do when you're going to compete for the starting job," Darnold said. "I'm still taking tips from Browne and letting him help me as well."
  • USC's next starting quarterback will have the luxury of throwing to a deep receiving corps, which has more height than recent years. In terms of jump balls, Browne explained that "giving our receivers a chance with the weapons that we have is the model that we have to take moving forward."
  • The tight end group is also blessed with more natural receiving talent than recent years. "The first thing that we want with our tight ends is the ability to press the field vertically and be pass threats," said Helton about Daniel Imatorbhebhe, Tyler Petite and Taylor McNamara. "These guys remind me of the Jordan Camerons that were here, the Rhett Ellisons. They do a very nice job in the passing game."
  • Any good offense starts up front. Helton addressed the offensive line and more in his post-practice press conference:

Otter Pops Quiz: Texas Two Step

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USC's Texas tailbacks Ronald Jones II and Aca'Cedric Ware share a close bond, so we put their friendship to the test with an Otter Pops Quiz.


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Ranked No. 1 and No. 6, respectively, the USC women's water polo and lacrosse teams are dominating the 2016 season, boasting a combined perfect 32-0 record with just two weeks to go until postseason play. The two teams have done a tremendous job on both sides of the ball this year and have unparalleled margins of victory to show for it. Lacrosse has outscored opponents 201 to 64 through 13 games, while water polo has outscored opponents 245-82 in 19 games. With just two games remaining in the regular season for water polo, and four for lacrosse, the Women of Troy look to be heading into MPSF Tournament action with lots of momentum. 

The Trojan lacrosse team will face a tough test in its next two games against No. 12 Northwestern and No. 7 Notre Dame on the road. USC clashes with the Wildcats at 5 p.m. PT on Friday and then travels to take on the Fighting Irish in South Bend on Monday at 1 p.m. PT. Be sure to follow @USCTrojansLAX for in-game updates, photos and more!

USC women's water polo will also be challenged when it heads north for the final road game of the season against No. 3 Stanford on Saturday at 1 p.m. Don't miss a minute of the action by following @USCWaterPolo for live updates and more. 

Back On Top

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USC beach volleyball reclaimed it's No. 1 ranking on Monday after taking down LMU and previously top-ranked Pepperdine at the USAV Beach Collegiate Challenge last weekend. Leading the way for the Women of Troy were Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes, who became the first-ever conference duo to win two Pac-12 Pair of the Week awards in a single season after going 5-0 against LMU and Pepperdine, and 3-0 in the pairs' gold bracket.

The Trojans got off to a fast start last weekend, defeating LMU 5-0 for their 10th sweep this season. Among the highlights of the day was Sophie Bukovec and Alexa Strange's efficient, 21-11, 21-7 victory - the pair's 50th all-time victory.

On Saturday, the Women of Troy battled back from a 2-1 deficit to claim their 15th straight win in the third set of the final match against Pepperdine. USC and Pepperdine traded points early, with Claes and Hughes, along with Jenna Belton and Abril Bustamante, winning on courts one and four to tie the score at four. Nicolette Martin and Allie Wheeler rallied after dropping their first set to push the Trojans past the Waves and back atop the national rankings.

Claes and Hughes are now 27-0 on the year and boast an astounding 52-match winning streak. They are the fourth Trojan duo this season to win Pac-12 Pair of the Week honors.

The Trojans will look to defend their ranking and wrap up their regular season home schedule with a big rematch against Pepperdine this Thursday at 4:30 p.m. PT. The dual will also be Senior Day for Alexa Strange Emily Young. The game will be held at Merle Norman Stadium and also broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.


Winning Week

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playeroftheweek-ramirez.jpgUSC baseball won three of four games this week at Dedeaux Field, including two of three from Utah, to creep above .500 in the Pac-12 at 5-4 and even its overall record at 15-15. The Trojans matched their season-long three-game winning streak by beating Pepperdine on Tuesday and the Utes on Friday and Saturday before falling on Sunday.

Click here for the schedule and recaps.

Senior A.J. Ramirez paced the attack with a .538 batting average, five RBI and two home runs to earn Pac-12 Player of the Week. He is now tied for the team lead in homers (5), and saw his season batting average jump 23 points to .370.

Click here for more on Ramirez. 

USC will now play its next four on the road, making the return trip to Pepperdine on Tuesday (3 p.m.) before traveling to Eugene for a three-game series with the Ducks (Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at Noon). The entire Oregon series will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Network.

Here are the John McGillen photos from Sunday's game vs. Utah:

Sweeping the Sun Devils

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

Rain might have pushed back action from Saturday to Sunday for No. 24 USC's women's tennis, but it did not stop the Women of Troy from taking care of business against No. 26 Arizona State. In a 4-0 sweep, the Trojans capitalized on sunny conditions, taking the doubles point and then wrapping up the contest without losing a singles match.

The win improves USC to 11-4 on the season and 6-0 in Pac-12 play.

Click here for the full recap.

In the win over ASU, Madison Westby (pictured) and Zoe Katz stepped up in a big way. The pair won its doubles match, 6-1, and didn't drop a set in their respective singles matches.

With their undefeated Pac-12 season on the line, the Women of Troy will take part in an unorthodox doubleheader with USC's men's tennis this weekend, hosting the crosstown showdown with UCLA at Marks Stadium on Sunday (April 17). Doubles matches will begin at 12:30 p.m. PT. USC and UCLA's men will head into singles play at 1:30 p.m. PT, with the women to play right after.

Pac-12 Networks will televise all the singles matches, for both the men and women, on Sunday.

Not only does USC boast world-class athletes, but world-class student-athletes as well. Each month, we will profile one of these outstanding Trojans who has chosen to pursue coursework in either the science, technology, engineering or math field (STEM).

Name: Anika Apostalon
Sport: Women's Swimming & Diving
Year: Junior
Major: Psychology

Sarah Bergstrom (SB): What made you decide to transfer to USC last year?

Anika Apostalon (AA): I actually initially looked here when I was in high school but I played water polo and swam and I really wanted to see what the dual sport life would be like so I went to San Diego State. I did that, but felt like I had a chance to improve in ways that I couldn't find at SDSU, so here I am. 

SB: What was it like managing two sports at once in addition to school?

AA: It's definitely physically manageable, it's just you need to balance not only the two sports but also the two coaches and the schedule demands. Scheduling can be a little bit more of an issue but it works out. 

SB:  What were some of the opportunities at USC that you were excited about having?

AA: First I just want to say that I absolutely love the girls at SDSU and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. Coming to USC I was really excited about the academics and I felt like the goals of some of the athletes here were a little more in line with mine. There was an opportunity to have a competitive edge. I'd also heard in my recruiting so much about the Trojan Family and I was excited to be a part of that. 

SB: Tell me a little about your major, psychology right? What made you interested in that and what do you think you want to do with that in the future?

AA: Initially I was really interested in learning how technology affects learning behavior and social interaction especially in youth. Right now, while that still really interests me and learning how technology affects us, I really don't know what I want to do with it. I've been looking at sports psychology maybe, but it's pretty wide open. 

SB: Transitioning to swimming a little bit, you obviously had a super successful year right away after transferring, winning the program's first-ever Pac-12 team title, winning an NCAA title in the 400y freestyle relay and doing really well at the meet individually, what was that like to succeed here so quickly?

AA: It was awesome. I mean how do I even describe it? The coaching staff and the team itself played a large role in why I was so successful. Just swimming for the team, having coaches who really cared and put in the time and effort, it was great to have that support. I think definitely coming together as a unit is what made it so successful. I know Dave [Salo] would say it too. We had a plan, we set out to do it and accomplished it. It was very gratifying. 

SB: You talked about that competitive edge, and one thing I'm always amazed at with USC swimming is that tons of your teammates are not only training for NCAAs but they're training for the Olympics too. What is it like to be surrounded by that mentality and do you have your eyes on Rio too? 

AA: I definitely want to see how I do at the Olympic Trials, but I've already set my sights on staying here and training for 2020. The atmosphere is definitely different. Having people who speak so casually about it and just being surrounded by all of this excellence makes you believe that you have what it takes. Which I think really helps incoming freshmen because they're surrounded by this as well and they can aspire to their goals from the start. It's awesome. 

SB: Not that you aren't busy enough with school and swimming, what are some things you're interested in outside of that?

AA: Adventures, food is always a big one, just trying all the different things that LA has to offer. I love anything artistic. I grew up with a mom who was an art teacher so I grew up doing water color and other hands-on activities. Music has always been a big thing too. I played piano for 10 years and then picked up guitar two summers ago just to keep myself busy (laughs), as if I'm not busy enough.

SB: You have one more year here as a student. If you had to name one thing that you really wanted to get out of your last year of college, what would that be? 

AA: Ah! It's really tricky to narrow down just one.

SB: You can definitely do a Top 3. 

AA: Probably No. 1 is just to have a very unified team. To make sure that everyone has a role and that they know that they are a part of what we're striving for whether they make NCAAs or not. Class-wise, I definitely want to make the most of what I have. I can't believe I am almost a senior, it's flown by. And probably three, just figure out what I'm going to do with my life outside of swimming (laughs) 

A Tougher Two

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The USC women's lacrosse team is now 13-0 after a winning weekend in the Rockies. But wins No. 12 and 13 were a little tougher than the Trojans' first 11, as USC escaped Colorado with a game-winning goal in the final 16 seconds, and topped Denver by just three - a narrow margin of victory for the squad that leads the nation in scoring margin (10.54). 

On Friday, the Trojans battled down to the wire with the Buffaloes, ultimately protecting their undefeated record thanks to Cynthia Del Core's game-winning goal with 16 seconds on the clock. Caroline de Lyra led the way with a hat trick, her 24th career game with three or more goals, while Michaela Michael added two to help USC clinch the 9-8 win. Tied at eight with a minute to go, the Buffaloes thought they had scored the game-winner when Katie Macleay found the back of the net, but the goal was negated for a dangerous propelling penalty which gave the Trojans possession and the chance to put the game away.

The challenging road weekend continued against Denver on Sunday as the Trojans, led by a Michaela Michael hat trick, topped the Pioneers, 9-6. Sophomore goalie Gussie Johns produced five saves in the Trojans' strong defensive performance which featured 18 Denver turnovers. 

The Women of Troy are just four games away from an undefeated regular season, but it won't be an easy road to 17-0 as the No. 6 Trojans must face No. 12 Northwestern and No. 7 Notre Dame on the road this Friday and Monday, respectively. USC first faces Northwestern in Evanston on Friday at 5 p.m. PT, the game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network Plus. The Trojans then take on the Fighting Irish on Monday at 1 p.m. PT, the game will be broadcast on ESPN3. 

Check out the highlights from USC's game on Friday including Del Core's game-winning goal...

Three's a Trend

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor 

The crosstown rivalry wrote its latest chapter in the water of the Uytengsu Aquatics Center as No. 1 USC hosted No. 2 UCLA on Saturday in the third match-up between women's water polo's best this season. The Women of Troy won the first match, 8-6, and the second, 10-7, and now the third, 8-5.

The third installment of this season's rivalry saw the Trojans score within the first minute behind Ioanna Haralabidis, only for the Bruins to tie the match less than a minute later. From there, the Women of Troy took control and never looked back.

Two goals from Brigitta Games, including a lovely backhand goal with her back to goal, saw USC take a 3-1 lead, which soon became 4-1 early into the second period. The Bruins would claw back to stay in the game each period, but they were held at an arm's length and a consistent two-goal deficit.

With UCLA holding on, junior Stephania Haralabidis added two goals, including the eighth and final one. Goalie Amanda Longan saved 13 shots on the day, including some big saves when UCLA had 6-on-5 chances.

Following the win over the Bruins, the Trojans took on Redlands as the second game of a doubleheader, which they took easily and convincingly, 23-0.

Saturday's wins saw USC improve to 3-0 against the Bruins, 4-0 in MPSF play and remain undefeated on the season at 19-0.

With just two matches left in the regular season, the Women of Troy will be back at it this weekend away to Stanford on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT.

Here are the John McGillen photos from the latest win over UCLA:

Setting the Stage

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No. 8 USC men's tennis took care of business on the road, defeating Utah, 4-1, and Arizona, 4-0, to put itself in position for a Sunday showdown at high Noon with UCLA at the newly renovated Marks Stadium. With a win, the Trojans can grab a piece of the conference title.

Click here for last weekend's recaps.

USC improved to 15-4 overall and 5-1 in Pac-12 play, a game behind No. 4 UCLA, which is undefeated in conference. Freshman Logan Smith (pictured) stepped up this week for the Trojans, winning both his singles matches without dropping a set.

The crosstown showdown on Sunday is the front end of a doubleheader as USC women's tennis will follow the men with singles play at 2:30 p.m. Both teams will play doubles simultaneously at Noon.

The Trojans were joined by legends Sam Cunningham, Marcus Allen and Matt Leinart, among others, at Saturday's rainy practice on Howard Jones Field. John McGillen was there to capture the brotherhood that is Trojan Football...

2016 Spring Practice #12: Notes

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Saturday was a special practice for the USC Trojans with 29 legendary alumni in attendance (pictured below) followed by a big Trojan Family barbecue for both current and former players.
  • USC_spring_ball_alumni_040916_9890.jpgThe former players that returned to Howard Jones on Saturday were Marcus Allen, Sam Cunningham, Willie McGinest, Anthony Davis, Keith Rivers, Mike Williams, John Jackson, Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley, Paul McDonald, Michael McDonald, John David Booty, Teddy Baker, Sam Baker, Lawrence Jackson, Chris Barrett, Shaun Cody, J.K. McKay, Brandon Hance, Alex Holmes, Kyle Moore, Terrell Thomas, J.R. Tavai, Kyle Moore, Al Cowlings, Chris Hale, Marvin Pollard, Elic Mahone and Will Poole.
  • Head coach Clay Helton invited all the players to come on Saturday and any future practices to continue to establish a relationship between former and current players. "It really showed our players what a tradition of excellence that we stand for and where the bar is set," said Helton. "There's so much knowledge that can be given from a big brother and they're our big brothers."
  • Clancy Pendergast's defense continues to impress, winning yet another finish challenge at the end of practice with a goal-line stand. "The kids are having fun just playing ball and competing against one another, bouncing around, dancing," said Helton. "They're understanding to the winner goes the spoils, to the loser we're running. A loss should hurt."
  • Earlier in the scrimmage period, DB Isaiah Langley came up with a huge interception from Sam Darnold that he ran back for a touchdown.
  • In the best of five play finish challenge, the offense did manage to score on a Ronald Jones II run. Helton mentioned an emphasis this spring on developing Jones into a more physical runner rather than just relying on his speed. "He's really becoming a more powerful runner in between the tackles," he said.
  • Here is the head coach after Saturday's rainy practice...
College basketball season may have ended four days ago, but writers across America are already assembling their projections for the 2016-17 season that begins in eight months. After making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years this March, USC men's basketball is ranked anywhere between No. 12 and No. 21 in four different "way too early" Top 25 polls, an early but promising sign for a team that returns a lot of talent.

Check out the rankings here:

While four members of last year's team have elected to transfer (Darion Clark, Malik Marquetti, Malik Martin and Katin Reinhardt), the Trojans return the entirety of their late-season starting lineup and are bolstered by the addition of now-eligible transfer Shaqquan Aaron and three incoming freshmen. Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright shined in their inaugural seasons this past year and are expected to make even bigger strides in their sophomore campaigns.

The biggest question mark for USC right now is junior point guard Julian Jacobs' impending decision to enter the NBA Draft. Should Jacobs return, the Trojans will have their top four scorers back on the court and their dynamic point guard duo of Jacobs and Jordan McLaughlin at the helm once again.

There will be plenty of updates and storylines to follow in the upcoming eight months, so be sure to follow @USC_Hoops!


The Gauntlet

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From the national champs to the Conference of Champions, USC will test itself against the best in 2016. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, the Trojans will play the toughest schedule in the country next season.

Click here for ticket information.

USC opens the campaign in Texas against Alabama, the reigning national champions, and closes the regular season with Notre Dame in the Coliseum. In between, the Trojans will face a difficult Pac-12 slate, featuring trips to Stanford, Utah, Washington and UCLA as well as home showdowns with Oregon and Arizona State.


Showdown Saturday

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No. 1 USC women's water polo will put its perfect record on the line on Saturday against No. 2 UCLA at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The match will begin at 1 p.m. followed by a second match against Redlands at 2:30 p.m.

Click here for the complete preview.

The Women of Troy have already defeated the Bruins twice this season, besting them in the Triton Invitational final, 8-6, and the UCI Invitational final, 10-7. With two wins in hand, USC controls all 10 Crosstown Cup points regardless of Saturday's result.


USC to the MLB 2016

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Major League Baseball kicked off its season this week with four Trojans on Opening Day 25-man rosters. Representing the Trojan Family are Brad Boxberger (Rays), Ian Kennedy (Royals), Tommy Milone (Twins) and Lucas Duda (Mets).

Kennedy (pictured below by Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY Sports) joined the reigning World Series Champions in the offseason after posting a 4.28 ERA in 2015 with the San Diego Padres. He signed a whopping 5-year deal with the Royals worth $70 million. Duda squared off against the Royals last season in the World Series, and he's off to a solid start, batting .250 through two games. Milone will get his first start of the 2016 season this Sunday against Kennedy's Royals, while Boxberger (abdomen) begins the 2016 season on the 15-day DL with an expected return in mid-May.


2016 Spring Practice #11: Notes

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On a rare wet and gray Los Angeles day, the Trojans focused on situational football.
  • Head coach Clay Helton referred to the basketball national championship in his press conference today as a great example of practicing and then executing situational plays. "Those special plays can win or lose championships," he told his team.
  • ESPN College GameDay host Rece Davis was at practice today. He tweeted that he was impressed with Uchenna Nwosu, Marvell Tell III and Iman Marshall on the defensive side of the ball and the quarterbacks and wide receivers offensively. More than anything, he was impressed with Helton and the coaching staff running a "crisp, organized practice" and having "great chemistry with each other and the players."
  • Without an experienced or massive defensive line, USC will play to its strengths under Clancy Pendergast. Helton explained that the defense has "to win by playing in the offense's backfield with penetration."
  • Nwosu is one of the explosive edge athletes that is expected to thrive in Pendergast's pressure-heavy scheme and cause disruption on the other side of the line of scrimmage. "We're kind of young and this is a new defense for most of us, but we're going to be alright," Nwosu reassured. "We have to keep studying and keep learning. We're all savages on the field."
  • If the Trojans do bring a lot of blitzes or an eighth man into the box, the corners will be under a lot of pressure to hold up in man-to-man coverage. "I like the aggressiveness," said Marshall about Pendergast's defense. "He has blitzes coming from everywhere. He's got us in receiver's face, getting physical, making sure we're the aggressors, not being passive."
  • Pendergast is willing to live with aggressive mistakes. "We're told if you're going to make mistakes, make them going 110 percent," said Marshall. "They let us be athletes and then emphasize the techniques and the fundamentals."
  • While Helton reiterated that he cannot stand the word "talent," especially in regards to USC football. He had to use it to describe his quarterbacks, Max Browne and Sam Darnold. In a recent practice, Darnold completed 94 percent of his passes, according to Helton.
  • Here's more from Helton:

Track & Field #TBT

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Seventy-eight years ago this summer, legendary USC Track & Field coach Dean Cromwell won his fourth straight NCAA title led by pole vaulter Loring Day. 

Check out Pac-12 Networks most recent Centennial Moment released on Thursday...

Famous Dave

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USC women's swimming head coach Dave Salo was named the Pac-12 Women's Swimming Co-Coach of the Year, sharing the honor with Stanford's Greg Meehan, after leading the Women of Troy to the program's first Pac-12 title.

Click here for more.

Now in his 10th season, Salo collected his first Coach of the Year award. He used a balanced approach to build his championship team, which paid off when all 27 competitors scored at Pac-12's. The Trojans thrived at the NCAA Championships as well, finishing sixth, headlined by their first NCAA relay title since 1994.


Marquetti Transferring

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USC men's basketball sophomore Malik Marquetti has announced that he will transfer out of the program. By NCAA rules, he will have to sit out a year and then have two years of eligibility remaining.

Marquetti was a captain on this year's team, but he averaged only 7.3 minutes per game this season. As a freshman, he played in all 32 games and started 15.


Spring Forward - Tommie Robinson

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Running backs coach Tommie Robinson has come home to Tailback U.

While he knows the talent at USC is always plentiful, Robinson's style is not to pre-judge anyone based on reputation or recruiting stars. He credits this tactic for his greatest success story during his first tenure as a Trojan, unearthing Buck Allen from the bottom of the depth chart.

As he learns more about what makes each of his tailbacks unique, Robinson focuses on the common threads that he wants to tie the whole unit together, technique and toughness.

An Experience Unlike Any Other

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USC is as proud of its tradition as any institution, but the Masters claims to be "a tradition unlike any other." Incoming freshman Cheng Jin can cast the deciding vote after he experiences both.

Jin, from Beijing, China, qualified for Augusta this year thanks to his win at the 2015 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship. He is one of six amateurs competing for the Silver Cup, given annually to the low amateur that makes the 36-hole cut at the Masters since 1952.

Of course, if the weekend goes really well, Jin will dream of the Green Jacket, the ultimate prize in golf. On Thursday and Friday, the 18-year-old is paired with 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson and Rickie Fowler, two men with slightly better odds to don the prized sport coat, but whatever his score, Jin (pictured with two-time Masters champion Tom Watson) will undoubtedly find the experience worth its weight in gold.


Time to Get Cracking

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USC baseball picked up a clutch extra inning victory on Tuesday over Pepperdine to begin a four-game home stand which now sees the Trojans hosting Utah this Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.). At 13-14, USC needs to start stockpiling wins if the Trojans have aspirations of a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Click here for tickets!

The Utes pose an interesting challenge, starting Pac-12 play tied atop the conference at 7-2, but they are just 10-15 overall. The Trojans are an even 3-3 in conference, having won their lone Pac-12 home series over Cal, the team tied with Utah in first place.

As always, games at Dedeaux Field are about more than wins and losses. This weekend's experience includes Free Dog Friday, Bingo Night and a poster giveaway (see the graphic below for more information).


Spring Breakdown: Defensive Backs

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While USC will depend on youth in the defensive front seven, the secondary returns all four starters plus the depth to compete at every position. The experienced unit will strive for more chances to get its hands on the ball under new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, whose aggressive scheme created 17 interceptions in 2013, his one year at USC.

"I am very excited about the quality of our returning starters in the secondary," said head coach Clay Helton. "It is important, however, that we develop some depth and versatility here."

All-Pac-12 CB Adoree' Jackson is the most decorated returner, but he is spending the spring focusing on track & field. At the other corner spot, Iman "Biggie" Marshall started USC's final 12 games as a freshman, highlighted by his two interception performance against UCLA.

Behind those big names, the Trojans have plenty of game. Isaiah Langley and Jonathan Lockett have been in the fire, plus Jack Jones is a promising prospect that will arrive in the fall.

The safety spot is even deeper with Chris Hawkins, Marvell Tell III, Leon McQuay III and John Plattenburg all returning with starting experience. The veterans will be backed up by redshirt freshman Ykili Ross and true freshman C.J. Pollard. Defensive backs Jamel Cook and Keyshawn Young from Florida will provide even more cover and competition when they arrive in the fall.

In 2016, USC returns its entire starting secondary and the depth to compete at every spot. #AllAboutBall #FightOn

A video posted by USC Trojans (@usc_athletics) on

Ten down, five to go. From Darreus Rogers one-handed catches to beautiful Los Angeles blue skies, John McGillen was on hand to capture every moment from the Trojans' spring practice session on Tuesday. 

Searching For Identity

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

AJ Ramirez settled onto the dugout bench after a loss to Loyola Marymount with a bright, cardinal USC long-sleeve shirt fitted loosely over his shoulders. The Trojans were in the midst of a slippery and inconsistent slide for a team that won 39 games a year ago and made the NCAA Regional. As USC baseball continues to look for its identity this season (now at 13-14 overall), the senior reflects on his.

USC's No. 10 has been around baseball his entire life and was constantly in transit as a kid. "When I was young, we were moving around a lot, my dad played professional baseball for 10 years," said Ramirez.  "Within those 10 years, we were going to Mexico, the Dominican, wherever my dad was playing baseball - just traveling really."

Growing up surrounded by America's pastime, playing professional baseball became Ramirez's dream. His father, and the game to which he exposed his son, inspired AJ.

"I grew up on professional baseball fields, getting to know all these guys, some who are MLB players now. It was something I still cherish to this day, all the memories I still have," explained Ramirez. 

After his father retired, AJ's future came into focus.

"As soon as USC contacted me, it gave me confidence," remembered Ramirez, who was not heavily recruited because he went to a small school. "And as soon as I got on the campus here, I knew this was the place I was going to be. Four years later, I'm really happy I made that decision."

USC gave Ramirez the platform to work towards his professional dream, while also providing an invaluable education. With parents who both work in education, the academics played a critical part in AJ's decision.

"The education doesn't get much better than here," said Ramirez. "I knew it was one of those things, it's hard to describe, that I just knew this is where I could see myself playing."

As Ramirez ventured off to college to learn, grow and have fun, USC's baseball program was looking for a new look as well. Long known for legendary names like Randy Johnson and Mark McGwire, the team had not played ball above .500 for seven consecutive seasons when Ramirez showed up on campus. Everything changed his freshman year when Dan Hubbs, the pitching coach when Ramirez arrived on campus, took charge of the team.

"When he was made our head coach, there was a lot of pressure on him because this program wasn't where it needed to be. He told us (now seniors) we're going to have to change this program," Ramirez said. "He's done just that. We've turned it around in 1-2 years, right away. He's held us accountable for that. We were hungry. We wanted to be the team that got 'SC back on track."

When AJ thinks back on his great memories on the field with his dad's teams growing up, he can now add his own games and triumphs, like the remarkable weekend sweep of national powers TCU, Vanderbilt and UCLA last season. "That was one of the biggest challenges we had all year. That really showed us that we were that good, that we could beat teams that had been in the College World Series."

While baseball has added a lot to his life, providing him with the life lesson of consistency and a brotherhood on which he'll always have to lean, Ramirez does have a little extra time when he's not on the field or in the classroom.

"Off the field, I go to Athletes in Action, a Christian group that meets every Wednesday night for the athletes that go here," said Ramirez.

His faith is another important component of Ramirez's identity, of what makes him himself, and it comes into his baseball life as well.

"God willing I can help this team do well and play professional baseball through that, like my dad did," said Ramirez. "But wherever God wants to take me, I'll go."

His faith, family and the game of baseball have gotten him this far, and these past four years at USC have given him valuable friends and lessons.

"It just really puts things in perspective that this game is only going to be here for not very long," said Ramirez. "My biggest advice for the freshmen is to not take it for granted and enjoy all the small things and enjoy everything while you're in college, especially playing baseball here at USC."

Ramirez only has 30 or so games left in the Cardinal & Gold, but he won't waste a day taking that for granted. As he said, there's plenty of time for the team to turn things around, which started this week with a walk-off win against Pepperdine, propelling the Trojans into a three-game home series with Utah.


2016 Spring Practice #10: Notes

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The Trojans are hitting their stride as they enter the final leg of Spring Football these last two weeks before the Spring Game on Saturday, April 16.
  • The coaching staff implemented a 20-play, all pressure situation on Tuesday that highlighted defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's aggressive scheme, making it a "hard day for the quarterbacks" according to head coach Clay Helton.
  • Though it was hard, it was an important day for the quarterbacks. The coaches were able to see how they each reacted to pressure situations, a key factor in the coaches' decision-making process. "I really feel that our offense, just like most offenses, will live and die by the quarterback and how the quarterback plays," said the head coach.
  • Quarterbacks coach Tyson Helton echoed his brother in praise of both redshirt junior Max Browne and redshirt freshman Sam Darnold, noting that USC is one of the few schools that has two legitimate quarterbacks that can win football games. Helton described Darnold as an impressive young athlete who can hit open guys for touchdowns. 
  • With Browne, it's a more schematic relationship based on the redshirt junior's impeccable understanding of the position. "We're speaking the same language. It's great to have a guy in the room that you can have a conversation with, you're actually talking back and forth where you're asking his opinion and how he feels about things," said the quarterbacks coach. "You can't do that with a lot of quarterbacks because they don't know why they're doing it."
  • Not only are the quarterbacks adjusting to a new coach and slightly different offensive scheme, but their receivers are also transitioning to new guys throwing them the ball. "Max's strength is his timing on the ball," explained rising redshirt senior Steven Mitchell Jr. "Right as you get out of a route, the ball is right there. He's very, very smart. He knows the offense like the back of his hand.
  • The wide receiver is also enjoying working with Darnold, who has a slightly different style than Browne. "With Darnold, his arm is amazing, he has great zip on the ball. He can throw a great deep ball. He's an athlete," said Mitchell Jr. "It's good to see a quarterback that can run. I didn't know he was that fast."
  • Helton's goal is to create a 50/50 pass and run balanced offense most of the game, and then rely on a physical run game from tailbacks like Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II down the stretch.
  • Davis broke out last season as a junior and is now demonstrating even more maturity this spring."My freshman year when I first got here, I really thought running back was just getting the handoff and running the ball. Now, I know there's a whole lot more to the puzzle. You've got to be able to catch the ball and provide pass protection," said the running back. "In the past couple of years, I've been able to learn from the best - Silas Redd, Buck Allen - and they kind of taught me the basics of it. I took it from there and have been working on it ever since."
  • The senior is also leaning on new running backs coach Tommie Robinson to guide him in his final season as a Trojan. "He's more of a tough coach. I've kind of developed some bad habits since the last time he was here, and he's been on me," said Davis. "He's going to get me back on my toes. He's the type of coach that is going to get rid of all your bad habits, make sure you're on top of your game at all times, and that's going to bring me into top shape, ready to play Alabama."
  • After dealing with some injuries this spring, the coaching staff is starting to look at some players in different positions in case of emergency. Ajene Harris is starting to see some time at the corner position due to his athleticism and experience from high school, while Jordan Simmons is getting some reps at the tackle position since he had experience playing right tackle in high school.
  • Injury update - Noah Jefferson (back) returned to practice today, but was limited to individual drills.
  • Here is the head coach after Tuesday's practice...
FullSizeRender.jpgWednesday will officially be National Student-Athlete Day as recognized by universities around the country looking to celebrate their multi-talented competitors in and outside the classroom. At USC, some of the most impressive Trojan student-athletes will be recognized at Tuesday evening's baseball game, including the women's soccer team, which posted the highest team GPA this year, Giuliana Olmos, Whitney Pitalo and Carley Horan (USC's top three community service seniors) and all student-athletes with 3.0 and above GPAs for the spring and fall semesters, among others.

As a nod to the hard-working faculty and staff that help USC's over 550 student-athletes succeed in the academic sides of their Trojan careers, USC will host about a dozen faculty members for dinner on the Dedeaux Field deck during the game as well.

For more on National Student-Athlete Day be sure to follow USC Student-Athlete Academic Services on Twitter (@uscsaas)! 

Swinging Back

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

The game of golf is notoriously uncertain. From the unpredictability of weather on any given day to the potential for inconsistent play, much is out of an athlete's control. Mirroring the game she plays, Kyung Kim faces even more uncertainty.

USC_Womens_Golf_Long_beach_8217.jpgKim, a senior on USC's No. 1 women's golf team, has been dealing with a wrist injury this season, affecting her ability to contribute. Though well enough to play in the regular season finale this past weekend, her wrist injury has planted a seed of doubt.

"It's kind of been a frustrating year for me because of this wrist injury that's been going on for the past two years," said Kim. "I don't really know when it pops up, so it can be all of a sudden during a tournament."

The two-time All-American first teamer has a lot depending on that wrist. Not only do the Women of Troy have national championship aspirations, but Kim has long hoped to compete at the professional level.

Well before she played for the Trojans, she started playing golf in Hawaii at the age of eight when her father often brought her out to the golf course. Her father was her biggest influence for getting into golf after seeing him have so much fun playing with his friends. Since then she's been on track to play professionally.

"My parents pushed me a lot since I was young. They wanted me to go to college and graduate. They're very supportive and want to see what my future holds with golf," said Kim.

After seeing their daughter devote herself to golf from an early age, Kim's parents got the best of both worlds when she committed to USC. Kim said from the minute she toured the campus she knew she'd found a new home.

"I really wanted to play for a top-ranked team and I liked the school, everything about it. I loved the team members because I'd known them from junior golf, so I just knew I was going to fit in," she explained.

From the familiarity of the young women on the team, coupled with a great recruiting trip and her love for the principles of the Trojan Family, it was a match made in heaven.

Her fondest memory at USC to date was winning a national championship her freshman year, part of an eight-tournament win streak that continued into her sophomore season. That 2013-14 team won a school-record nine events.

"We kind of felt unbeatable," she said with a laugh. "We felt really confident going into every tournament. We knew if one player didn't have a good day the other four would make up for it. It was really fun every tournament."

After being a part of a national championship-winning team her freshman year, the three-time All-American is itching to win again, and she won't let a nagging injury get in the way of a chance to win her second national championship in four years. The No. 1 ranked Trojans got a huge boost this past weekend as Kim won all three of her match-play matches, helping the Trojans take down No. 4 Northwestern and No. 6 Georgia en route to third place at the Liz Murphey Invitational.

"Kyung has been one of our most steady players throughout her USC career, even when she's not at her best," said head coach Andrea Gaston. "As a three-time All-American, she is the spark that can take us from good to great."

After USC, she plans to return to Hawaii at some point and start playing golf professionally. Kim knows she'll have her teammates, coaches and the Trojan Family with her wherever she goes, but that won't stop her from soaking up these last few putts and drives in college.

If her wrist stays healthy, Kim and her teammates should be in for a very exciting end to the season and could vie for her second NCAA team title. For now, she's focused on just that, looking to go out on top in her final season at USC.

The postseason begins in less than two weeks, at the upcoming Pac-12 Championships, which will take place April 18-20, in Pleasanton, California.

Building from the Back

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USC women's lacrosse is up to No. 7 in the national rankings as the Women of Troy boast the most potent scoring attack in the country. But, don't let all those goals distract from the other end of the field, where the Trojans are locking teams down to the tune of the best defensive record in the country.

Sophomore goalie Gussie Johns provides the last line of defense, and she is as stingy as they come. She has held the opponent to seven goals or less in 10 of 11 games, which is a winning formula considering that the Trojans have scored 11 or more goals in every game.

For her latest two performances serving as a nearly impenetrable backstop, Johns was named the MPSF Defensive Player of the Week. She produced her 10th and 11th wins with eight saves through the two games and continues to lead the nation in goals-against average (4.70 gaa) and leads the MPSF (sixth in the NCAA) in save percentage (.527).

Click here for more on Johns.

Johns and the Trojans will face their most difficult road trip of the season to date this week at Colorado (Friday at 1 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks) and Denver (Sunday at 11 a.m. PT on Altitude) with MPSF supremacy on the line.


Move On Up

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After a strong weekend at the California Collegiate and Sam Adams Combined Events, both women's and men's USC Track & Field teams continue their climb in the USTFCCCA rankings. Led by Pac-12 Field Athlete of the Week Tera Novy, who broke her school record in the discus to win at the California Collegiate, and Amalie Iuel, who scored the third-most heptathlon points ever by a Trojan at the Sam Adams Combined Events, the Women of Troy are No. 2 in the country in the second official poll of the 2016 season.

Novy, who won the discus with a throw of 196-6, was one of four Trojan women to place first in an event at the California Collegiate. Junior Cameron Pettigrew won the 400m in 54.84, freshman Mikaela Smith won the 800m in 2:07.71 and sophomore Rebekah Ent won the women's 1500m race with a time of 4:33.44. At the Sam Adams Combined Events, Iuel finished first in 800m (the heptathlon's final event) to finish fifth overall with 5,799. Her total is the most by a collegiate athlete in the heptathlon this season.

The Women of Troy weren't the only one clinching first place finishes and PRs last weekend however. The Trojan men had three event champions at the California Collegiate, a performance which helped push the team to No. 13 in this week's national ranking. Sophomore Nick Ponzio won the men's discuss (179-5) and men's shot put (62-8.75) while the men's 4x100m relay quartet won in 3:15.57.

There is still a long way to go for the ranked and ready USC Track & Field team before championship season arrives, including competition in the Pepsi Invitational (Eugene, Ore.), Beach Invitational (Long Beach), Bryan Clay Invite (Azusa) and Mt. SAC Relays (Cerritos) all happening in the next two weeks.

Be sure to follow @USC_Track_Field for in-meet updates, photos and more!


Singled Out

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playeroftheweek-max2.jpgNo. 9 USC men's tennis dropped the doubles point in both its Pac-12 home matches last Friday and Saturday, but the Trojans roared back in singles competition to beat No. 16 Cal, 4-2, and then No. 36 Stanford, 6-1, to move to 3-1 in conference play and 13-4 overall.

Senior Max de Vroome is growing into his role as the lead dog on this USC team, winning all four singles matches in Pac-12 play. Against the Bears, he rallied back from a set down to clinch the dual match (5-7, 6-2, 6-1), and then when faced with a higher ranked Cardinal opponent, he made it look easy, winning 6-3, 7-5. For the second time this season, de Vroome was named Pac-12 Player of the Week.

The Trojans had been on the road for a month before finally returning to officially open the newly renovated Marks Stadium. The comfort of the home courts played into the results, according to head coach Peter Smith.

It was great to open the facility with the energy we had today," Smith said. "The energy from our crowd transferred to our team.  It was just a gritty performance from the boys."

Unfortunately, the home stay is short lived for the Trojans who hit the road again this week to face Utah and Colorado. Be sure to mark your calendars for USC's home finale on April 17 against rival UCLA.

Here are John McGillen's photos from the win over Cal:

Spring Forward - Neil Callaway

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Neil Callaway's resume speaks for itself.

The Trojans new offensive line coach has led the men up front at Auburn, Alabama and Georgia among others. From day one at USC, arriving from Western Kentucky with QB coach Tyson Helton, Callaway has set an aggressive tone in the offensive line room.

He is working them ragged, breaking them down in spring to build them up in the fall. And to a man, he has earned immediate respect from his unit.

Here's Neil Callaway in his own words:

Senior Salute

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

USC men's volleyball lost its last home game of the season Sunday against No. 14 UC Irvine, but celebrated four special seniors after the match. The four seniors include captains Alex Slaught and Brooks Varni (pictured), as well as Josh Kirchner and Tommy Leonard.

Click here for a full recap of senior night.

The Trojans dropped the first set 25-21, the second set 25-15 and the final set 25-23. Troy fell to 7-17 on the year and 5-15 in the MPSF. Josh Kirchner led all Trojans with seven kills, hitting .417, while Slaught added five kills in his final home match, and Leonard finished with three kills in the loss.

The last home game for the two captains saw an end to a pair of wonderful USC careers. Varni and Slaught have played in over 50 games for the Cardinal & Gold and the former has been a captain for the past two seasons.

Unfortunately, the loss eliminated the Trojans from the eight-team MPSF Tournament, but their season isn't finished quite yet. USC heads on the road to face No. 3 BYU for its final matches of the season this weekend, first on Friday at 6 p.m. PT and then on Saturday at 6 p.m. PT.  


Sweet Seventeen

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

USC women's water polo has not been shy about scoring a lot of goals this season. The No. 1 ranked Trojans have been pummeling opponents this season, outscoring their competition 214-77, and Sunday's 16-3 home victory against No. 23 CSU Bakersfield was no exception.

There were plenty of goals to go around as both Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis scored four goals each in the rout. Together, the Haralabidis twins have now scored 77 goals on the season. Junior Brigitta Games added a hat trick to the cause as well. This weekend's convincing win gave the Women of Troy a 3-0 record in MPSF play and extended their undefeated record to 17-0.  

There will be a lot more than just an undefeated season on the line this Saturday when crosstown rival UCLA comes to the Uytengsu Aquatics Center for a 1 p.m. PT match. The Women of Troy have already defeated the Bruins twice earlier this season and look to make it three in their home pool. The Trojans then face Redlands at 2:30 p.m. PT for the second game of a double-header.

Check out all the John McGillen photos from Sunday's victory...
The Trojans capped off the third week of Spring Football on Saturday with a hot practice on Howard Jones Field, but cooled off afterwards at Uytengsu Aquatics Center as part of the 36th annual Swim With Mike swim-a-thon. 

Check out all the John McGillen photos from practice No. 9 plus a couple shots of JuJu Smith-Schuster & Co.'s winning relay... 
Not only does USC boast world-class athletes, but world-class student-athletes as well. Each month, we will profile one of these outstanding Trojans who has chosen to pursue coursework in either the science, technology, engineering or math field (STEM).

Name: Jacky Hennegan
Sport: Women's Lacrosse
Year: Senior
Major: Industrial and Systems Engineering

Sarah Bergstrom (SB): I always like to start these by asking what brought you to USC. So let's start there...

Jacky Hennegan (JH): When I was looking at schools I wanted to play Division I lacrosse, I wanted to do ROTC - I grew up as a Navy kid so that's how I got into it - and then I wanted to be an engineer. USC was one of the best schools that had all three of those. I really thought it was cool that my first season was the inaugural season here so that was another big thing for me. On top of that, my older brother was also already going here. So all arrows really pointed to USC, it wasn't a hard decision for me at all.

SB: What did it mean to you to grow up in a Navy family and why was that something you felt was important to carry on? 

JH: So both of my grandfathers were in the Navy and my dad was in the Navy. He was a submariner growing up and just retired a couple years ago after serving 33 years. It's always been a part of my life. My brother was already in the ROTC here at USC and he's actually in flight school now, he's going to be a pilot. So, it was kind of one of those things where I didn't have a huge plan outside of that and really thought it would be awesome to serve my country and give this a shot. I ended up getting the ROTC scholarship here and also was able to play lacrosse. 

SB: Do you know what you want to do in the Navy yet? Or how does that process work? 

JH: I don't know exactly what I want to do yet. I'm actually staying an extra semester next fall to finish up my degree because I couldn't quite get everything done with engineering and lacrosse and ROTC at the same time. I have to do service selections for ROTC soon so I'm trying to decide right now. I think I maybe want to do service ships or submarines but I'm not entirely sure yet. 

SB: To be honest, I really don't know much about ROTC as a whole. Can you walk me through what the program is like and what your day-to-day schedule looks like? 

JH: So starting with the long-term look, the Navy is paying my full tuition to go to school and in exchange, when I graduate, I commission the same day and I'll be an officer and I'll have to serve back five years. So I'll have a job right away and they'll send me somewhere in the world, anywhere that they need me at that time. After that, I can get out or continue to serve if I want to. 

On a day-to-day level, we have PT which are workouts on Monday and Wednesday mornings. On Thursdays we all wear our uniforms and we have different lectures, briefs and lessons on the Navy. A pretty normal day for me goes like this: I go to PT in the morning, go to my classes in the middle of the day and then usually I'll have practice in the afternoon after all of that. We might have film and then I'll do homework done in the evening. 

SB: Has your workload for ROTC grown over the last four years? 

JH: I've gotten more and more responsibility as we've gone on. Last semester I was the battalion commander which is just like the senior midshipman in charge of everything. Then that got passed on to a different senior, since we sort of rotate each semester. This semester I'm in charge of planning all of our events, I'm the plans officer. I've had other roles too over the last couple of years. 

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Hard Earned Third

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No. 1 USC women's golf finished third at the Liz Murphey Classic in Athens, Georgia, to cap another outstanding regular season. While the Women of Troy were unable to bring home the tournament title, they did pick up match play victories over No. 6 Georgia, the host team, and Northwestern, after qualifying for the championship bracket due to their stroke play success.

USC's one loss came at the clubs of rival UCLA as the Bruins squeaked by the Trojans thanks to the tiebreaker rules (total holes won) in the semifinals. The two teams will see each other again at the Pac-12 Championships in Pleasanton, hosted by Cal, from April 18-20.

The Women of Troy will be boosted by the return of senior Kyung Kim (pictured). The two-time First Team All-American has had her season compromised by injury, but she looked healthy in Georgia, winning all three of her head-to-head duels in match play.


Another One!

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USC women's lacrosse's phenomenal year four start got even better on Saturday as the Women of Troy took down San Diego State, 20-6, at McAlister Field. Now a program-record 11-0, the No. 7 Trojans continue to charge forward with six regular season games remaining. 

The victory was the eighth by double-digits for USC this season, and the Trojans were led by none other than Michaela Michael who is second in the nation in total goals this season (44). The junior attacker recorded three goals and a program-record tying six assists in the win, her 22nd-career hat trick and eighth this season. Seniors Caroline de Lyra and Amanda Johansen joined the hat trick party with four and three goals, respectively.

The Trojans currently boast the top scoring offense and defense in the country, outscoring opponents 183-50 in 11 games with an average margin of victory of 12.09 goals per game. In the next two weeks, USC's undefeated record will be challenged with four consecutive road games beginning with a trip to the Rocky Mountains this weekend. On Friday, the Women of Troy take on Colorado at 1 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Networks before facing Denver on Sunday at 11 a.m. PT on Altitude TV. A web stream will be provided for Sunday's game.

Be sure to follow @USCTrojansLAX to follow the Trojans on the road this week!

Here are the John McGillen photos from the win over SDSU:

2016 Spring Practice #9: Notes

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The Trojans continue to grind through spring ball, but on Saturday, they also took a little time off after practice to make a big splash at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center to support the 36th annual Swim with Mike.
  • The quarterback battle is the biggest position battle this spring, and the players are making the decision for the coaching staff even harder. Head coach Clay Helton praised their efforts on Saturday, especially with how they've responded to offensive coordinator Tee Martin and quarterbacks coach Tyson Helton's emphasis on deep balls. "I thought it was the quarterbacks' best day. You saw a lot of accurate throws which I like down the field," said the head coach.
  • The wide receivers are the deepest position boasting a full arsenal of talent. On Saturday, Deontay Burnett continued to impress while Steven Mitchell Jr. also stood out in the eyes of the coaches. "We're fully healthy on offense, especially skill-wise," said Helton. "There's so many weapons and I think were almost like that basketball team that has five really good players. If you try to double one, somebody's going to get you."
  • On the opposite side of the ball, defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's defense is really coming together.  "I've always thought his defense was so aggressive of getting to the quarterback and getting him off his spot," said the head coach. "He really only has about four to five coverages, but he hides them so well. He teaches the guys to rotate late and not give the tell-tale signs away."
  • The Trojans are already a little banged up and they added to the list on Saturday with Chad Wheeler (mild ankle sprain), Jonathan Lockett (concussion), and Chuma Edoga (wrist soreness) all being sidelined.
Here is Coach Helton after Saturday's practice...

Trojans in Business: Matt Oka

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

image2.JPGName: Matt Oka

Resume: Financial Planning and Analyst at Boeing

Sport at USC: Swimming

Caroline Deisley (CD): What inspired you to join Boeing?

Matt Oka (MO): I actually met a Boeing recruiter at the Marshall spring job reception, and then I don't know. I had never considered working in aerospace, but it sounded really, really interesting... all the different kind of satellites and planes that they build. It just so happened that the recruiter is from Corona Del Mar, and I went to high school in Newport Beach so we hit it off and then before I knew it I had a job there.

CD: So, on a day-to-day basis what does your general day look like?

MO: I'm in the office down in El Segundo, which is the world's largest satellite factory, and I am responsible for managing the overhead budgets and something called the labor rate for all of our satellite programs. To describe, the way that government contracts work most of our customers are government officials. They submit a proposal and then they want a bunch of contractors to submit them a bid. We bill them based on the dollar per hour per employee, so there's all sorts of compliance issues with the government. Basically, you have to manage this labor rate so that it doesn't go up and down more than like five percent, otherwise we have to resubmit everything to the government because it's full disclosure. It can be challenging because if an unexpected mess comes up that can really increase your rate. So, you have to manage it down in other areas so you don't have to resubmit a full on new cost proposal to the government, which as I'm sure you can imagine can take a long time to get approval for those.

CD: You began in the rotational program right?

MO: Yes, I began in the rotational program where I did three different finance functions. I did contracts administration, scheduling and business operations for one year each. My second rotation, business operations, is what I really enjoyed doing and I really liked that manager. I learned a lot from him. So, after my rotation was up he hired me full-time in his department and I've been there for the last two years.

CD: What would you say is the most important thing you learned from getting all of those different experiences in that program?

MO: I learned how in a really, really big company all of the pieces fit together and what each department or function affects all the other different functions. You can't really work in just your silo you have to collaborate among all the different functions whether it's finance or engineering. I think rotating through three different jobs in three years at the same company gives you a broader perspective of how everything works.

CD: That really helps. What would you say if you were to look back at your time at USC and give yourself one piece of advice?

MO: Keep going to the 90 (laughs). I don't know. I definitely wished I tried a littler harder in some of my classes.

CD: What did you learn through growing up and being a competitive swimmer that you still use today?

MO: Just that fight every day. Never settling. Don't get complacent. You can get complacent in your job, it happens to a lot of people. Just always be competitive and find your way whether you are increasing your performance in swimming or performance at work just never stop competing.

CD: Who would you say were some of your mentors here at USC?

MO: I really liked a professor by the name of Sandy Green. He taught rhetorical finance and that class changed my perspective on the economy markets and finance in general. Also, having the support of the Swim with Mike family has been absolutely instrumental in my success, both at USC and at Boeing.

CD: Finally, what's next? Where do you yourself going?

MO: So, I would really really like to train for Tokyo 2020 and compete in the Paralympic Games. It's a bit difficult working the 9-5 so I wasn't able to do it for Rio, but the couple of times I have gotten back into the water I felt like I could possible be competitive enough to earn a spot on the team. As far as my career, I definitely want to return to USC and get my MBA sometime in the near future.

Jacobs Testing the Waters

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USC men's basketball junior PG Julian Jacobs announced that he will declare for the NBA Draft, but leave open the option to return to the Trojans by not signing with an agent.

"With the new rules, I'm exploring all the options offered to all of the players that are considered NBA prospects," Jacobs said. "At this time, I'm not planning on hiring an agent. I will gather all the information possible in the process and make an informed decision about my future."

Jacobs earned All-Pac-12 honors this past season, leading the Trojans to 21 wins. He finished tops in the Pac-12 in assists (5.5 per game) and ninth in steals (1.2 per contest). He was one of five USC players to average double figures in scoring (11.6 points per game).

Per the new NCAA rules, Jacobs can enter his name on the NBA Draft list, participate in the NBA Combine and work out for NBA teams but still retain his collegiate eligibility as long as he doesn't sign with an agent and withdraws his name from the draft by May 25.


Felix Loses Appeal

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USC defensive end Scott Felix had his appeal to restore his 2016 senior season of eligibility denied by the NCAA, ending his Trojan playing career.

Felix tested positive late last year for a substance banned by the NCAA.

"In life, people make mistakes and I am no different," said Felix. "I'm disappointed to say that I have lost my final year of eligibility in 2016. I took an over-the-counter supplement from a local nutrition store without consulting our medical staff, believing that there were no red flags in the supplement. I made a mistake in believing my research was enough to prove the supplement was safe to take. We are educated on these topics here at USC so that something like this never happens and I hope that it never will again. While this mistake was not done on purpose, I take full responsibility for my actions.

"I want to apologize to my teammates, my coaches, my family, my USC family, the amazing fans, and to the greats who paved the way here at USC."

Read Felix's entire statement here: Felix.pdf

USC is exploring ways for Felix to remain involved with the Trojan football program in some capacity in the fall.  He is working on his bachelor's degree in theater.

"We are very appreciative of what Scott has done for our football team in his career," said USC head coach Clay Helton.  "We are proud that he will continue to work on getting his degree and we will look for opportunities for him to stay involved with us in a support role in the fall."

In his USC career, Felix started 15 games and had 75 tackles, including 10.5 for losses.  Last season as a 10-game starter, he posted 28 tackles, including 5.5 for losses (with 4 sacks).

Melton and Mathews

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IMG_4996.JPGComing off an impressive 21-win season, USC men's basketball is returning most of its core players and adding some talented new pieces. Andy Enfield and his coaching staff have revitalized the program by recruiting, mostly in Southern California, which now includes Crespi's De'Anthony Melton (pictured) and Santa Monica's Jonah Mathews.

Melton was recently named the CIF-SS Division III Player of the Year, while Mathews earned the CIF-SS Division 1A Player of the Year. The guards form a three-man recruiting class with big man Harrison Henderson from Texas. Plus, Louisville transfer Shaqquan Aaron is now eligible after sitting out a year.

After an exceptional performance in the state championship game during which he scored 24 points and added 17 rebounds, Melton drew Russell Westbrook comparisons from veteran basketball writer Frank Burlison. Like Westbrook, Melton was an under the radar prospect who is learning to harness his explosive athleticism.

Mathews should fit nicely into Enfield's system as another dangerous perimeter shooter. He is the most highly-touted prospect in this class, ranked No. 72 by Scout and No. 77 by ESPN.

Spring Breakdown: Wide Receivers

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USC returns 98.2% of its production this season at the wide receiver position in terms of receptions. The headliners are JuJu Smith-Schuster, Adoree' Jackson, Steven Mitchell Jr. and Darreus Rogers who combined to haul in 181 catches for 2,492 yards and 19 touchdowns.

While Smith-Schuster, an 2015 All-Pac-12 First Team selection, was the primary target on offense last year (89 receptions for 1,454 yards and 10 TDs), the goal this season is to spread the ball around and find the open man. The new USC quarterback will have plenty of options at his disposal.

The Trojans return nine scholarship receivers with experience, although Jalen Greene is currently working at quarterback, plus five star-studded freshmen. Of the newcomers, Michael Pittman Jr. and Josh Imatorbhebhe are already enrolled and participating in spring practice, while Tyler Vaughns, Velus Jones Jr. and Trevon Sidney will arrive in the fall.

"This is probably the most explosive group of wide receivers USC has had since I've been here," said head coach Clay Helton. "With our depth, we now have the ability to put three or four wideouts on the field at the same time, each of whom causes a mismatch for defenders."

USC returns its top 4 receivers from 2015 to headline one of the deepest units on the roster. #AllAboutBall #FightOn

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