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2014 Pac-12 Postgrad Scholars

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

Click here for the complete release.

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

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

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

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

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

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Social Media Presale

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

Click here to buy now!

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

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Bigelow Done for the Year

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

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

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

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Top Tight End Telfer

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

Click here for the complete list.

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

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All-Around Playmaker

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

Click here for the complete list.

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USC's 2015 Hall of Fame Class

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

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

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

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

Click here for the complete release with bios.

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

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

Strong Down the Middle

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

Click here for the complete list.

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

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Maxwell Trio

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

Click here for the complete watch list.

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

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A Life Fully Lived

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

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

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

Click here for more.

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

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

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

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

Year in Troy: Coaches on the Rise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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