2004: The versatile Cassel, who was USC's No. 2 quarterback earlier in his career and who also had several stints at tight end, switched back to quarterback prior to 2004 fall camp and will serve as a reserve there as a senior in 2004. He missed 2004 spring practice while pitching for USC's baseball team.
2003: Cassel spent the first half of his 2003 junior season as the backup quarterback to Matt Leinart before being moved to a reserve tight end role (he made a similar mid-season move to wide receiver in 2001). Overall in 2003 while seeing action in 8 games (Hawaii and Arizona State at quarterback, then Washington, Washington State, Arizona, UCLA, Oregon State and Michigan at tight end and special teams and Michigan), he completed 6-of-13 passes (46.3%) for 63 yards, but did not catch a pass. He was 2-of-3 for 21 yards against Hawaii, then came in when Leinart was injured in the second quarter at Arizona State and was 4-of-10 for 42 yards. He won USC's Howard Jones/Football Alumni Club Academic Award (as the upperclassman with the highest GPA).
2002: Cassel served as USC's No. 2 quarterback behind Carson Palmer as a sophomore in 2002. He saw late action in 10 games (all but Auburn, Kansas State and Washington State). Overall in 2002, he completed 3-of-4 passes (75.0%) for 27 yards and ran for 1 yard on 1 carry (1.0 avg.). After the season, he had arthroscopic surgery to remove torn cartilage in his knee.
2001: Cassel, the backup quarterback behind Carson Palmer as a redshirt freshman in 2001, proved to be a good enough athlete to get on the field in a variety of roles in 2001. He appeared in 7 games (Washington, Notre Dame, Arizona, Oregon State, California, UCLA and Utah) as a wide receiver and on special teams; he also played quarterback briefly at California. Overall in 2001, he was 1-of-2 (50.0%) for 5 yards passing, ran for 22 yards on 3 carries (7.3 avg.), caught a 12-yard pass and made a tackle. He did a little bit of everything at California, catching a 12-yard pass as a wide receiver, making a tackle on special teams and, in his first career action at quarterback, hitting 1-of-2 passes for 5 yards and gaining 20 yards on a run. He also gained 4 yards on a reverse at Notre Dame. He won USC's Co-Lifter Award.
2000: Cassel redshirted as a freshman quarterback in 2000, his first year at USC.
BASEBALL: He was a pitcher on USC's baseball team in the spring of 2004. He suffered a fractured left foot in midseason and was sidelined for several weeks. Overall, he appeared in 8 games (starting once), posting an 0-1 record and a 9.35 ERA in 8 2/3 innings of work, with 10 strikeouts and 4 walks. He also struck out in his only at bat. He was selected in the 36th round of the 2004 draft by the Oakland Athletics.
HIGH SCHOOL: He was a 1999 Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American, Tom Lemming Top 100, Super Prep All-Farwest, Tom Lemming All-West, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first team, Orange County Register Fab 15 third team, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, Las Vegas Sun Super 11 second team and All-L.A. City second team pick as a senior quarterback at Chatsworth (Calif.) High. He completed 137-of-261 passes (52.5%) for 2,020 yards with 14 TDs and 5 interceptions in 1999, plus ran for 252 yards on 115 carries (2.2 avg) with 11 TDs. In one game, he passed for 324 yards with 5 TDs.
As a junior in 1998, he was named to the Student Sports Junior All-American, All-L.A. City first team, Los Angeles Times All-Valley, Los Angeles Daily News All-Valley second team and All-League. He hit 199-of-360 passes (55.3%) for 2,930 yards with 26 TDs and 7 interceptions as a junior and also rushed for 496 yards with 6 scores. Chatsworth won the L.A. City 3-A title in 1998.
Also a fine baseball player, he helped Chatsworth to the L.A. City title in 1999 while hitting .390 with 3 home runs and 29 RBI as a first baseman and third baseman.
PERSONAL: He is a communication major at USC with a B+ average (3.37 GPA). He played on the Northridge team that was a finalist at the 1994 Little League World Series. He was featured in the HBO documentary "Freshman Year," which was filmed at Chatsworth High in 1999-2000. In his spare time, he likes to jet ski and play ping pong. His sports hero is Joe Montana. As part of the "Read Across America" program, he read books to local elementary school classes in 2001. His older brother, Jack, is a pitcher in the San Diego Padres organization. His younger brother, Justin, is a sophomore on UC Irvine's baseball team.
MATT CASSEL ON: Playing as a receiver and on special teams in 2001: "It was quite an experience. It was fun. It hadn't worked out where I was on the field at quarterback, but it worked out at other positions...I told the coaches I could help out and they gave me the opportunity. It actually wasn't a tough transition. I knew where to go on routes and I knew the receivers' blocking schemes. One of the easiest transitions for a quarterback is to go to receiver....It's a little different when you catch the ball. You're not touching the ball on every play. I've got to give credit to the receivers. There's a lot of pressure being a receiver, with a lot of guys coming at you."
WHAT OTHERS SAY: Former USC Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Carson Palmer: "Matt is a perfect representative of the attitude that's needed to play on this team. He could have thrown it in at the beginning of 2001 camp, he could have quit. But he hung in there and started the Cal game at H-back."
GAME-BY-GAME WITH MATT CASSEL