2004: The massive Drake, who started often on the offensive line in 2003, will battle for a starting guard spot as a senior in 2004...if he returns healthy. He missed 2004 spring practice while recuperating from an ankle injury.
2003: As a junior college transfer who enrolled at USC in the fall of 2003, Drake made such a quick impression that he emerged as a starting offensive lineman by mid-season of his 2003 junior season. After seeing significant action as a backup in USC's first 4 games, he started the Arizona State and Stanford games at right tackle and then started the next 5 contests at right guard. He broke his right ankle against UCLA, which sidelined him for USC's last 2 games of 2003.
JUNIOR COLLEGE: He made the 2002 J.C. Athletic Bureau All-State Region IV first team as a sophomore offensive tackle at Long Beach (Calif.) City College. LBCC posted an 8-3 record in 2002 and won the Western State Bowl. As a freshman starter in 2001, he earned All-Mission Conference honors. Current Trojan Alatini Malu also attended Long Beach City.
HIGH SCHOOL: He prepped at Long Beach (Calif.) Wilson High.
PERSONAL: He's a sociology major at USC.
JOHN DRAKE ON:
His ability: "I always believed in myself and knew I had the ability to contribute. For me, it was all about adjusting and find out where and how I could contribute and what they expected of me at USC. Once I figured that out and learned how to play like a Trojan, the opportunity was given to me. Then, once the opportunity was presented to me, what was I going to do with it?...Sometimes, being young, you think you have forever to do all the things you want to do in life. People see so much potential in you and they tell you that you can be so good if you do this or that. At some point, if you want people to understand that youdo love this game and you want people to respect what you do, you have to go out there and be better than what they expect you to be. People always used to say about me that 'He's big, but is he slow?' 'He's big, but is he lazy?' I want to change people's perspective of me. I have to work hard to change what people think of me. I don't want people to believe I'm a halfway decent player, a halfway decent person."
His outlook: "As long as you're laughing, it means something good is happening. I smile as much as possible. How bad can things be for me? I'm at USC and I was starting. Life isn't that bad."
WHAT OTHERS SAY:
USC head coach Pete Carroll: "He's an enormous, NFL-sized offensive lineman. He moves well with that body. He battles the whole time and hustles and finishes well. He's tough and his feet move well. He has good body control for a big man."
USC offensive line coach Tim Davis: "He's got extraordinary feet. That makes him special. When you've got a big, giant kid who can run, move his feet, adjust his weight and undestand what you're doing, then you've got something."