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Top Tight End Telfer

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

Click here for the complete list.

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

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All-Around Playmaker

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

Click here for the complete list.

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USC's 2015 Hall of Fame Class

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

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

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

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

Click here for the complete release with bios.

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

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

Strong Down the Middle

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

Click here for the complete list.

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

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Maxwell Trio

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

Click here for the complete watch list.

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

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A Life Fully Lived

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

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

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

Click here for more.

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

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

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

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

Year in Troy: Coaches on the Rise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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USC to USA

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

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


Adventures with a Historian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Year in Troy: Individual Brilliance

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

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

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

Nikola Vavic, Men's Water Polo

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

Haley Ishimatsu, Women's Diving

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

Cristian Quintero, Men's Swimming

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

Kirby Burnham and Sara Hughes, Women's Sand Volleyball

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

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