Fight On Bond

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Thanks to ESPN reporter Shelley Smith, USC super fan Jake Olson had his inspirational story broadcast to the world. But, Smith did more than document Olson's life, she became a part of it.

Now, while Olson is set to enroll at USC on a Swim With Mike scholarship, the tables have been turned. Smith had her own fight with cancer, the disease that cost Olson his sight, so he now supports his friend and they share a story together.

Here is the latest installment from ESPN, which highlights the true power of the Fight On spirit:

Scholarly Super Woman

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

For four years, USC women's tennis player Zoe Scandalis embodied all that makes up the ideal Trojan student-athlete. A two-time ITA All-American, three-time All-Pac-12 All-Academic selection and regular participant in ongoing community outreach initiatives, Scandalis achieved much both on and off the court. While she has moved on to the courts of the USTA Pro Circuit, her Trojan legacy continues to grow with the announcement on Thursday that she is the first USC women's tennis player ever to win an NCAA Post Graduate Scholarship.

Click here to read more about Scandalis' latest achievement.

She is the 53rd Trojan all-time, and the third in the past five years to win the scholarship, which is awarded annually to student-athletes who excel both academically and athletically. While at USC, Scandalis majored in political economy with a minor in environmental studies.


Doak Duo

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

USC running backs Justin Davis and Tre Madden have big shoes to fill this season after the NFL departure of All-Pac-12 rusher Buck Allen. Before even taking a snap, the duo are off to a confident start earning spots on the 2015 Doak Walker Award Watch List, of which Allen was a semifinalist last season. The award annually recognizes the nation's best running back.

Click here for the complete 2015 Doak Walker Award Watch List.

Davis (pictured) has steadily earned more carries over the last two seasons and is looking to have a breakout year in 2015. The junior ran for 595 yards on 129 carries with 4 touchdowns last year.

Madden is itching to return to the field after dealing with a toe injury that kept him out in 2014. His last full season of competition was 2013, during which he ran for 703 yards on 138 carries and 3 touchdowns.


Spotlight on Six

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

DSC_1438.jpgNo Trojan has ever won the Davey O'Brien Award for college football's best quarterback, but USC senior Cody Kessler is on the radar to become the first. As a member of the award's 24-player 2015 watch list, Kessler continues to add to his impressive preseason portfolio. The redshirt senior quarterback has already been named a Maxwell Award and Wuerffel Trophy candidate as well as a nominee for the AFCA Good Works Team.

Click here to see the 2015 Davey O'Brien Award Watch List.

Kessler is climbing the USC record charts, ranking fourth on the career touchdown pass list (59), sixth in career passing (553 completions) and sixth in all-time passing yards (6,803).

Good Fella

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

As an early Heisman contender, a Maxwell Award candidate and the top returning Pac-12 quarterback, all eyes are on USC's Cody Kessler in advance of the Trojans' 2015 campaign. On Wednesday, the redshirt senior captain was chosen as a candidate once again, this time for his leadership off the football field. Kessler earned a spot on the 2015 Wuerffel Trophy Watch List and as an Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominee.

Click here for the complete 2015 Wuerffel Trophy Watch List

Here you'll find the complete list of 2015 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team nominees.

The Wuerffel Trophy is given annually to the college football player who "best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement". The AFCA Good Works Team recognizes a group of 11 players who work to positively impact their communities off the field.

In the last four years, Kessler has used much of his free time to invest in both his immediate and international community. From a trip to Haiti after his freshman year to annual visits to CHLA, the quarterback continues to take every opportunity to use his platform to help others and broaden his own USC experience.


Jumping for Joy

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USC track & field secured one of its biggest signatures of the offseason by luring acclaimed assistant coach Sheldon Blockburger away from rival Arizona, so he can lead the Trojans to titles in jumps and multi-events. For the Wildcats, Blockburger coached athletes to 11 NCAA titles and 16 conference crowns.

"This is a huge coup for USC track & field. Sheldon is, arguably, one of the few premier jumps and multi-events coaches in America, and we are very pleased to be able to add such a great coach and mentor to our staff," said Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert. "He brings a wealth of experience, success and passion along with him to USC, and we are excited to welcome him into the Trojan Family." 

Click here for the complete release.

Last season, Blockburger guided Arizona's Pau Tonnesen to the Pac-12 Decathlon title and to a second-place finish at the NCAA Championships with a school-record 8,247 points.


2015 USC Football Media Guide

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The official 2015 USC Football Media Guide - the same one used by the media who cover the Trojans - is available for digital download starting today.

Click here to download!

Fans interested in purchasing a hard copy version can do so starting in early August via mail ($20 check payable to USC and send to USC Sports Info, HER 103, LA 90089-0601) or in person at the Sports Information Office (Heritage Hall) or the USC Bookstore. The 208-page guide includes bios for all the players and coaches, a preseason outlook with rosters, and thorough historical sections with scores from every game since USC first played in 1888, plus records and yearly stats, a listing of every Trojan who played in the NFL, and much more.

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Sarao's Spotlight

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

USC_FOOTBALL_COLORADO_MCGILLEN-6763.jpgRedshirt senior linebacker Anthony Sarao joined a growing list of Trojans earning preseason recognition this year when he was named to the 2015 Butkus Award Watch List on Tuesday. A good sign for the USC defense, both Sarao and junior Su'a Cravens are in contention for the award given annually to the nation's best linebacker.

Click here for the complete 2015 Butkus Award Watch List

Returning as the Trojan's leading tackler in 2015, Sarao will serve as a leader on a defense to which he contributed 74 tackles, three pass breakups and two interceptions last season. He or Cravens would become the first Trojan to win the award since Chris Claiborne in 1998.

Three's A Crowd

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

USC senior center Max Tuerk is now an early candidate for three different awards that are given annually to the nation's best center or lineman after making the 2015 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List on Tuesday. He's already been named to the 2015 Rimington Trophy Watch List which goes to the best center, and the Outland Trophy Watch List which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football.

The Rotary Lombardi Award has been given out annually since 1970 to the best lineman or linebacker in college football. Brad Budde became the first and only Trojan to win the award in 1979.


Trojans in Business: Nikki Brown

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Name: Nikki Brown (far right)

Resume: Chief Marketing Officer, CytoSport

Sport at USC: Song Girl

Caroline Deisley (CD): First, I just want to start with a little more background on you after USC. How did you end up where you are now with Muscle Milk?

Nikki Brown (NB): I graduated from 'SC on a Thursday and started working for my dad on Monday morning. At the time, he was running a sport nutrition company. The following year, our family started CytoSport, another sports nutrition company, and Muscle Milk became our first major brand. In the early days, we didn't market or advertise - we didn't have the budget to do so - so in typical start-up fashion, I had many roles. About year five in the brand's (Muscle Milk) life, we really started to shape our consumer conversation and I was lucky to be involved early and from that point forward. Today, I am the Chief Marketing Officer and lead all of our brand efforts from packaging and advertising, to the way in which we interact and interface with our consumers. 

CD: How did you combine your passion for athletics from your time as a Song Girl at USC with the Muscle Milk brand?

NB: We knew at the time that protein wasn't just about hard-core athletes and weight trainers trying to pack on muscle. Muscle Milk and other protein products were also being used for exercise recovery and meal replacements. However, with a name like Muscle Milk and our early packaging design, the brand clearly steered to more hard-core athletes with a heavy male skew. While I drank it every day and shared it with my friends, I knew we had work to do to make the brand more approachable. I have always tried to balance connecting with the core athlete and also attracting more active lifestyle people because the functional benefits of protein are the common link. 

CD: Do you remember specific experiences at USC either in class or with friends/athletes that inspired this passion of yours?

NB: My four years at 'SC inspired our collegiate platform. USC was the first school that we partnered with. I remember experiencing game day and 100,000 fans (perhaps less in the 90's) rooting on the Trojans as a fan and then as a part of the game day program as a Song Girl. As we set out to broaden the appeal of our brand outside the gym platform, college athletics were a perfect fit. We had a product that worked and that trainers across the country were providing student-athletes, so we had an authentic way in. Today, it remains my favorite platform. Linking the functionality of Muscle Milk with leading collegiate programs, seeding and providing protein to student-athletes and showcasing the brand to their dedicated fan base, it's the perfect, authentic, functional tie back to the brand and the intended use of our product. 

CD: Similarly, what lessons really stuck with you from your time at 'SC and how have you seen those now in the real world?

NB: USC was a great place to start growing up and experiencing the real world. During my four years, I made life-long friends. It also provided a network that I have tapped into and utilized many times over the years. The loyal alumni share a similar passion for the 'SC community, which is unique in many ways. It's inevitable that personal and professional worlds collide and overlap around the unforgettable Trojan experience.