2005: Ashton, a one-time walk-on, will compete for playing time at weakside linebacker as a senior in 2005 (he also can play middle linebacker), as well as possibly handle the long snapping duty for his second season.
2004: Ashton earned a scholarship in the fall of 2004 as a junior. He handled all of USC's punt snaps flawlessly and also served as a backup middle linebacker (he can also play on the weak side) and key special teams player. Overall in 2004 while appearing in all 13 games, he had 16 tackles, including a 5-yard sack, and a forced fumble. He had 4 tackles against Colorado State and BYU and 3 stops versus Arizona.
2003: As a sophomore in 2003 while appearing in all 13 games, Ashton had 28 tackles (0.5 for a loss), 1 forced fumble and 1 deflection as a backup linebacker and key special teams player. He even started 2 late-season games (Arizona and UCLA), becoming just the second USC walk-on to start a game in the previous 20 years. He had 8 tackles at Arizona and 5 against UCLA.
2002: As a redshirt freshman in 2002, Ashton made 3 tackles while seeing brief action in 3 games (Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA).
2001: Ashton redshirted as a first-year freshman in 2001.
HIGH SCHOOL: He prepped at Mission Viejo (Calif.) High. Current Trojans Ryan Powdrell, Drew Radovich and Mark Sanchez also prepped at Mission Viejo.
PERSONAL: He's an international relations major at USC. During games, he wears a gray USC T-shirt under his jersey that he has been wearing since he was 10 years old. As a youngster, he served as a ballboy for several years for the USC men's basketball team. He is a fifth generation Trojan. He attended his first USC football game when he was a month old and has never missed a Trojan home game in his lifetime.
COLLIN ASHTON ON:
Being a long snapper:
"It's an extremely important position to the team and extremely important to me. It's a stressful position with not a lot of recognition. You've got to get the ball back there and be perfect every time."
His first start at USC, at Arizona in 2003:
"I was really excited, really excited. It ended up being the most fun game I've ever played in. I told Champ (Melvin Simmons, the injured starter he replaced) that he better not get used to playing because I loved it too much. It was unbelievable. It was so much fun to run out there. I hadn't played that much in a game since high school. You go through practice every day and think that's playing football, but when you get in a game it's completely different."
Being a walk-on:
"A lot of people didn't think I could do it. A lot of them laughed at me and said I was wasting my time...I'm not dumb. I looked out on the field in my first few weeks here and I could see everyone was bigger, stronger and faster than me. I knew it would be tough before I got here, but it was even worse than I thought...Yeah, I was plenty discouraged at times. Every Saturday would come and I'd never get close to playing. But I knew why. If I was the coach, I wouldn't have played me, either...Sometimes I would think, 'I cannot do this for five years, no way.' But then I would realize, I can't do anything else...My whole goal was to win a scholarship here, to work my way up. So I kept working on my skills and spending time in the weight room."
Going from being a die-hard USC fan as a youngster to playing for the Trojans:
"I always wanted to play here. That was my whole dream, my goal. It was always fun to go to USC games and play catch with my friends and family before the games in front of the Tommy Trojan statue...Then to get the opportunity to walk on here was unbelievable...I now realize I'm actually here, I'm actually doing this, I'm the guy I once cheered. I get goose bumps just talking about it...When I look up in the stands, I see myself...I remember walking off the field after the Michigan game (2004 Rose Bowl) going, 'Did I just really do that? Did I just play in the Rose Bowl for a national title?' It brought tears to me. Growing up, watching everyone else do that, it was just unbelievable. I still don't believe it, to tell you the truth...USC is something I was born into. It's who I am."
WHAT OTHERS SAY:
USC head coach Pete Carroll:
"This is a great college football success story. For a guy to come in the way Collin did and make this happen is pretty amazing. He's a fantastic example for all the kids out there who don't think they have a chance. We saw that Collin kept fighting and competing and working his way through the system. He's real smart and does things right. He is also real tough. It shows you how special Collin is when his teammates gave him a standing ovation when we announced he was awarded a scholarship. He came here undersized and not prepared for football at this level, but he did not believe that."
GAME-BY-GAME WITH COLLIN ASHTON