USC Football 2001 Pre-Season
July 30, 2001
|Sept. 1||San Jose State||3:30 p.m. (FSNW2)|
|Sept. 8||Kansas State||3:30 p.m. (FSN)|
|Sept. 22||at Oregon||TBA|
|Oct. 6||at Washington||TBA|
|Oct. 13||Arizona State||TBA|
|Oct. 20||at Notre Dame||1:30 p.m. (NBC)|
|Oct. 27||at Arizona||TBA|
|Nov. 3||Oregon State||12:30 p.m. (ABC-TV)|
|Nov. 10||at California||TBA|
|29||vs. Penn State
|34||San Jose State||24|
|21||at Oregon State||31|
|44||at Arizona State (2OT)||38|
|TB Sultan McCullough||QB Carson Palmer|
|WR Kareem Kelly||OG Zach Wilson|
|OG Faaesea Mailo||C Lenny Vandermade|
|FB Charlie Landrigan|
|WR Marcell Allmond/Keary Colbert*|
|(Note: Mailo started at tackle in 2000)|
|S Troy Polamalu||CB Kris Richard|
|CB Darrell Rideaux/Chris Cash*|
|S Frank Strong/DeShaun Hill*|
|DT Ryan Nielsen/Bernard Riley*|
|TE Kori Dickerson|
|(Note: Dickerson started at linebacker in 2000)|
|SPECIAL TEAMS (2)|
|P Mike MacGillivray|
|PK David Newbury/John Wall*|
OTHERS RETURNING WITH CAREER STARTS
|CB Antuan Simmons (25)||DE Lonnie Ford (15)|
|TB Malaefou MacKenzie (4)||LB Aaron Graham (4)|
|CB Kevin Arbet (4)||WR Steve Stevenson (3)|
|LB Chris Prosser (2)||FB Chad Pierson (1)|
|TE Scott Huber (1)|
2001 USC FOOTBALL NOTES
PRE-SEASON RANKINGS...-- Here's a look at where the 2001 Trojans are ranked by various pre-season prognosticators:
|The Sporting News||14th||3rd|
|Street & Smith's||-||6th|
...AND PRE-SEASON HONORS - Several Trojans have been named to pre-season All-American teams: TB Sultan McCullough (fourth team by Phil Steele's, honorable mention by Street & Smith's), DT Bernard Riley (fourth team by Phil Steele's), QB Carson Palmer (honorable mention by Street & Smith's and Phil Steele's), WR Kareem Kelly (honorable mention by Street & Smith's and Phil Steele's), S Troy Polamalu (honorable mention by Street & Smith's) and OG Faaesea Mailo (honorable mention by Phil Steele's). Street & Smith's lists McCullough as the No. 4 candidate for the Doak Walker Award, Palmer eighth for the Davey O'Brien Award and Kelly 10th for the Biletnikoff Award. Kelly is The Sporting News' No. 7 candidate for the Biletnikoff. In various unit rankings, USC's defensive backs were third nationally by The Sporting News and Phil Steele's and sixth by Lindy's, the receivers were fourth by Phil Steele's, seventh by The Sporting News and eighth by Lindy's, the quarterbacks were fifth by Phil Steele's and the running backs were 10th by Phil Steele's.
SCHEDULE - USC's 11-game schedule is challenging, featuring 7 teams that played in bowls last season and 5 that were ranked in AP's final Top 15. Troy opens its 2001 slate at home on Sept. 1 against San Jose State, also visiting the Coliseum are last year's No. 4 Oregon State, No. 9 Kansas State, Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA. On the road, USC goes to No. 3 Washington, No. 7 Oregon, No. 15 Notre Dame, Arizona and California. Phil Steele's magazine says USC has the nation's sixth toughest schedule, while The Sporting News says USC will play the toughest schedule among TSN's pre-season Top 25 teams.
RETURNING TROJANS -- The 2001 USC team features 74 returning squadmen (41 were lettermen), including starters at 16 positions (8 on offense, 6 on defense, plus the punter and placekicker). Back are 45 Trojans who saw action last year and 20 who have started at least once in their career. Thirty players return who were on USC's season-ending 2-deep.
USC INTERVIEW DAY/PRE-SEASON PRACTICE SCHEDULE -- USC Football Interview Day will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 10, in the Heritage Hall Lounge at USC. The Trojans will conduct all 3 weeks of their 2001 pre-season practices on campus (NOT at UC Irvine). Drills begin Aug. 11 and lead up to Troy's Sept. 1 opener against San Jose State in the Coliseum.
QUOTING PETE CARROLL
THE 2001 TROJANS
'My expectations are to play good football from the word go. I'm confident about our abilities and our willingness to meet challenges. But I'm cautiously optimistic until we get on the field and find out. That's where the talking stops and the pads are strapped on.
'It is obvious to me that our players have worked hard and that they understand that it's all about `team.' Their sights are set high on doing something special and restoring USC's winning tradition. And I know we have a great, proven staff. So, now, we'll see how good we are. We'll see if this team comes together like I think it will.
'Our overall philosophy is very simple. It's all about the football. When we're on offense, we've got to hold onto it and control it. And when we're on defense, we've got to go get it. It's really as simple as that. We started talking about it in our first team meeting.
'I'm not going to make any bold predictions, except to say we'll be very competitive and very aggressive.
'We're in the process of putting this team together. We'll be good. The strength of this club will come from its team attitude and willingness to play together and to play hard. That will give us the best chance to reach our potential. I've already seen that in the good work ethic this group has developed in the off-season. The players took to our approach and made sacrifices for the team.
'I've been able to assemble what I feel is a dream-team staff. Our new coaches left very good jobs to come here. We're all here to do something special. The key, of course, was getting Norm Chow. He is arguably the best offensive coordinator in the history of college football, certainly in terms of championships and wins and people he has coached. He is not only a great attraction for us in recruiting and a great asset as a coach, but he allows me to do what I want to do, which is to focus on the defense.'
'Offensively, we want to control the ball with the passing game, while still being balanced. That's what Norm Chow has been a master of. It's an offense that is designed around precision, which means the system has to be quarterback-friendly. It is set up so the quarterback really can be successful. Our goal is to complete 63 percent of our passes.
'With this offense, we can attract highly-skilled quarterbacks, receivers and running backs, and spread the field so we can use their talents. When we put all the ingredients together, we can have an extraordinarily effective offense. When we spread the defense out with our formations, it also will open up the running game. Draws and traps and counters should allow our running backs to split the defense and get in the secondary in a hurry with nobody around them. I think our runners are well-suited for that style.
'We want to bring out the best of what we have on offense and that's some special quality athletes. We have a number of skill players who have proven to be productive. Now, we must build up the offense around their special talents. Our plan is to expand the offense to highlight a wide-open attack.'
'I've always coached a very aggressive, attacking style of defense. It starts up front with how we attack the line of scrimmage with our defensive linemen. But we'll make our opponents contend with all of our defenders, because they'll all be part of our blitz package. They'll all pressure. We'll mix man-to-man with zone-blitz pressure. We'll keep people off balance and force the kinds of errors that allow us to change the game with turnovers.
'We'll have a pro-style defense. It will be an attacking, up-the-field approach for our front 7 and an aggressive, bump-and-run style of play in the secondary. We'll run a 4-3 scheme, but with 3-4 personnel.'
THE SPECIAL TEAMS
'The performance of our special teams will be a focal point. We must be efficient and effective in our special teams play. We will create continued competition at every position of this unit.'
LAST YEAR-The 2000 Trojans went 5-7 overall and tied for eighth place in the Pac-10 at 2-6 for Troy's first-ever last place conference finish. Although the Trojans began the year 3-0 while rising to No. 8 in the nation and later in the season beat crosstown foe UCLA for the second year in a row, 5 consecutive mid-season losses did them in and led to the firing of third-year head coach Paul Hackett.
CARROLL--Pete Carroll, who led the New England Patriots to the NFL playoffs twice in 3 years, brings big doses of experience, enthusiasm and leadership in his quest to revive the USC football program. He was named the Trojans' head football coach on Dec. 15, 2000 (he signed a 5-year contract). The 49-year-old Carroll, who also has coached on the college level for 10 years, has 26 years of NFL and college experience. He was the head coach of the NFL's New England Patriots for 3 seasons (1997-99) and New York Jets for 1 year (1994). He guided the Patriots into the playoffs in his first 2 seasons, winning the AFC Eastern Division title at 10-6 in 1997 and advancing to the second round of the playoffs, then posting a 9-7 regular season mark in 1998. His overall record in New England was 27-21 in the regular season (including 8-8 in 1999) and 1-2 in the playoffs. He owns the franchise's second-best winning percentage (54.9%). After serving as the Jets' defensive coordinator for 4 seasons (1990-93), he became the team's head coach the following season. His 1994 Jets went 6-10. Only 3 other Jets head coaches won more games in their rookie campaign. He spent the next 2 years (1995-96) as the defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, who won the NFC Western Division title both seasons. The 49ers were 11-5 in the 1995 regular season when they had the NFL's top-ranked defense and then went 12-4 in 1996. Carroll began his coaching career at the college level, serving as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Pacific, for 3 years (1974-76), working with the wide receivers and secondary. He then spent a season each as an assistant in charge of the secondary at Arkansas (1977) under Lou Holtz as the Razorbacks won the 1978 Orange Bowl, at Iowa State (1978) under Earle Bruce (the Cyclones played in the 1978 Hall of Fame Bowl) and at Ohio State (1979) under Bruce. That Buckeye squad lost to USC in the 1980 Rose Bowl. He next spent 3 seasons (1980-82) as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at North Carolina State, then returned to Pacific in 1983 as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. He entered the NFL in 1984 as the defensive backs coach of the Buffalo Bills, then held a similar position with the Minnesota Vikings for 5 seasons (1985-89). The Vikings advanced to the playoffs his last 3 years there, getting to the NFC Championship game in 1987. The 1988 team was 11-5 in the regular season and the 1989 squad won the NFC Central Division crown with a 10-6 mark. His secondary averaged 25 interceptions a season and led the NFL in passing defense in 1989. Carroll spent the 2000 season as a consultant for pro and college teams, doing charitable work for the NFL and writing a column about pro football for CNNSI.com. Carroll was a 2-time (1971-72) All-Pacific Coast Conference free safety at Pacific and earned his bachelor's degree in 1973 in business administration. He received his secondary teaching credential and a master's degree in physical education from Pacific in 1976. He was a 3-sport (football, basketball and baseball) standout at Redwood High in Larkspur, Calif., earning the school's Athlete of the Year award as a senior. He played quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back. He then played football at Marin Junior College in Kentfield, Calif., in 1970. He was born on Sept. 15, 1951 in San Francisco. He and his wife, Glena, who played volleyball at Pacific, have 3 children: sons Brennan, 22, a senior tight end at Pittsburgh (he previously played at Delaware), and Nathan, 14, and daughter Jaime, 19, a sophomore on the USC women's volleyball team which competed in the 2000 NCAA Final Four. His late father-in-law, Dean Goranson, received his master's degree from USC.
OFFENSIVE OVERVIEW--Starters return at 8 positions on offense in 2001, plus a pair of co-starters. Four others who started at least once in 2000 also are back. USC's top passer, plus its top 2 rushers and pass catchers, from 2000 return. Troy will try to repeat its offensive production from last fall in terms of yardage-USC led the Pac-10 in total offense (415.9, its highest output since 1989) and was 23rd nationally in passing offense (262.3)-but it must dramatically cut down on its turnovers (a nation-high 36, its most since 1977). USC's offensive strengths should be at quarterback and its production, speed and depth at the running back and wide receiver spots. However, a starting tight end must emerge, as well as several starters and some depth on the line.
PALMER-USC has one of the nation's best signalcallers in 2001 in junior Carson Palmer (228-of-415, 54.9%, 2,914 yards, 16 TDs, 18 interceptions in 2000). He already ranks fifth on Troy's career passing list (397 completions). He is also fifth on USC's all-time total offense chart (5,050 yards). His 5,159 career passing yards is the most by a Trojan at the end of his sophomore year. He is on pace to break Rob Johnson's school career records for completions (676) and passing yardage (8,472), plus Rodney Peete's USC career total offense yardage mark (8,640). With 20 career starts under his belt, he has completed at least 60.0% of his passes 9 times (including 4 contests at 70.0%-plus). After missing the last 9 games of 1999 with an injury, in 2000 he showed signs of brilliance (his completions and yardage were the second most in USC history) and rustiness (he tied the school interception mark). Look for him to thrive now in Norm Chow's offense.
|USC CAREER PASSING LEADERS
|(Based on Number of Completions -- Includes bowl games)|
|USC CAREER TOTAL OFFENSE LEADERS|
|(Includes bowl games)|
OTHER QUARTERBACKS-If Palmer gets hurt, no other quarterback on the Trojan roster has ever thrown a pass in college. Redshirt freshman Matt Cassel could be Palmer's backup in 2001. The other returning quarterbacks are walk-ons: sophomore Richie Wessman and redshirt freshman Matt Harris. This fall, 2 promising QBs-prep All-Americans Billy Hart (Mission Viejo High in Mission Viejo, Calif.) and Matt Leinart (Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif.)-will compete immediately for backup duty.
McCULLOUGH/MacKENZIE--Troy returns a 1,000-yard runner in 2001 and he's a good one: speedy junior tailback Sultan McCullough (227 carries, 1,163 yards, 5.1 average, 6 TDs in 2000, plus 9 catches, 2.8 average). And he should only get better. His rushing total last fall was the most at USC since 1990. He hit the 100-yard rushing barrier 7 times in 2000 (the most by a Trojan since 1989), including 4 games in a row. That was good enough to earn him All-Pac-10 second team acclaim in 2000. The 1999 Pac-10 champion in the 100-meter dash, he is the fastest player ever to wear a Trojan football uniform (10.17 in the 100 meters). Giving the Trojans a 1-2 punch at tailback is powerful and experienced senior Malaefou MacKenzie (41 carries, 284 yards, 6.9 average in 2000, plus 27 catches, 9.2 average), a threat running and receiving. He was second on the Trojans in rushing last season and his 27 receptions were the most by a USC running back since 1996. In his career (which includes 4 starts), he has 765 rushing yards and 37 receptions.
OTHER RUNNING BACKS-Besides McCullough and MacKenzie, none of Troy's other tailbacks has seen the field yet in a cardinal-and-gold uniform: senior walk-on Mark Gomez, junior Miguel Fletcher, who also sprints for the Trojan tracksters (with a best of 10.31 in the 100 meters), sophomore walk-on Brien McMullen, and redshirt freshman Chris Howard, who is coming off 2000 knee surgery. Junior Justin Fargas, a highly-acclaimed prep All-American tailback in 1997 who spent the past 3 years at Michigan (where he suffered a serious broken leg in 1998), enrolled at USC this past spring but must sit out the 2001 season after transferring. Coming aboard this fall will be freshmen Darryl Poston (Edison High in Huntington Beach, Calif.), a prep All-American, and David Kirtman (Mercer Island High in Mercer Island, Wash.). At fullback, senior Charlie Landrigan (8 carries, 34 yards, 4.2 average in 2000, plus 8 catches, 5.9 average), an outstanding blocker, returns as the starter. He'll be pushed for time by junior Chad Pierson (31 carries, 133 yards, 4.3 average, 1 TD in 2000, plus 10 catches, 14.7 average, 2 TDs), a 1-game starter last fall who proved to be just as effective a runner and receiver as a blocker (he lined up at tailback at times in 2000). Senior Sunny Byrd, who redshirted last fall after transferring from a junior college, and sophomore walk-on Jeffery Hill also are available.
KELLY-Kareem Kelly (55 catches, 14.5 average, 4 TDs in 2000), an acrobatic, fleet junior, headlines USC's receiving corps. He already is ninth on Troy's all-time pass catching chart with 109 grabs. He is within sight of Johnnie Morton's school record for receptions (201) and receiving yardage (3,201). He has a reception in all 23 games he has played as a Trojan. Last fall, he topped the Trojans in receptions and receiving yardage (796). He also sprints for USC's track squad (his 5.67 clocking in the 50-meter dash is an American collegiate and world junior record).
|VARSITY CAREER PASS CATCHING LEADERS|
|(Includes bowl games)|
|4.||R. Jay Soward||161||2672||16.60||23|
OTHER WIDE RECEIVERS-In addition to Kelly, USC's wide receiver corps in 2001 has a nice blend of experienced, speedy veterans and talented newcomers. Last year's co-starters at the other wideout spot also return in junior Marcell Allmond (16 catches, 15.2 average in 2000) and sophomore Keary Colbert (33 catches, 14.5 average, 3 TDs in 2000). Allmond, who doubles as a hurdler and decathlete on the Trojan track team, was off to a good start last fall before breaking his leg in the fifth game and sitting out the rest of the way. Colbert took over for him and ended up second on the team in receptions (the second most ever by a USC freshman). Also in the mix are junior Steve Stevenson (15 catches, team-high 18.9 average, 2 TDs in 2000), who has 21 catches and 3 starts in his career, and soph Sandy Fletcher, plus a trio of walk-ons (senior Ryan Kaiser, sophomore D. Hale and redshirt freshman Forrest Mozart). USC could have one of the more interesting stories in college football in 23-year-old freshman Frank Candela, who joined the Trojans this past spring. He spent the past 4 years playing minor league baseball after a fine prep gridiron career. He will compete for time at wide receiver and likely serve as USC's primary kickoff and punt returner. Figuring in this fall will be freshmen William Buchanon (Oceanside High in Oceanside, Calif.), a prep All-American who is the son of ex-NFL star cornerback Willie Buchanon, and David Boler (Charter Oak High in Covina, Calif.).
TIGHT ENDS--USC has quite a challenge in finding a replacement in 2001 for dependable 4-year starting tight end Antoine Harris, who had 61 catches and 7 scores in his career. The 7 candidates for the job have just 12 catches and limited offensive playing time to their names. The likely starter comes from an unlikely spot: defense. Rangy senior Kori Dickerson (32 tackles, 2 for losses, 1 deflection, 1 forced fumble in 2000) was last season's starting strongside linebacker. He was moved to tight end this past spring and was impressive (if injuries hit the linebacking corps, he could move back there). He doubles as a 6-8 high jumper for the USC track team. There also are a pair of juniors in Doyal Butler (4 catches, 13.0 average in 2000) and Scott Huber (1 start last fall but no receptions) and a pair of sophomores in Alex Holmes (7 catches, 7.6 average in 2000), a Freshman All-American second teamer last year, and Chad Cook, who missed last season with a knee injury, plus redshirt freshman Gregg Guenther Jr., who was sidelined in 2000 with a back injury. Arriving this fall will be freshman Kolomona Kapanui (The Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu, Hi.).
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN--Three-fifths of USC's starters on the offensive line are back in 2001 and each is an outstanding player. But the rest of the unit is relatively inexperienced, which is a concern since Troy must fine a pair of tackles and develop some reliable depth along the line. Manning the guard spots will be senior Faaesea Mailo, who started at tackle last season but has 6 starts earlier in his career at left guard, and junior Zach Wilson, a 2-year starter on the right side. Both tip the scales at more than 300 pounds. Mailo, the only senior lineman, will fill the left guard spot held by Trevor Roberts last fall. He also has been used in the past as a short-yardage fullback, a la Refrigerator Perry, and proved to be a devastating blocker. Sophomore Lenny Vandermade returns as the center after earning Freshman All-American first team honors last year (he also started some at guard in 2000). Seven players will fight it out for the tackle jobs vacated by 3-year starter Brent McCaffrey on the left and Mailo on the right: junior Phillip Eaves, who redshirted last year, sophomores Norm Katnik (he worked mainly at center in 2000), Jacob Rogers (he missed last spring's practice while recovering from shoulder surgery), Eric Torres (he saw limited time in 2000), Nate Steinbacher (he also was a shotputter for the USC track team) and walk-on Justin Brown (a spring transfer from Fresno State), and redshirt freshman Joe McGuire. Of that group, only Rogers has seen significant line action in the past. Junior Derek Graf, who has seen brief action in just 1 game in his career (his father, Allan, played on the Trojan line), and redshirt frosh Travis Watkins (also a Trojan shotputter) and walk-on Spencer Torgan are looking to earn backup duty at the guard positions. Redshirt freshman A.J. Single, a converted linebacker, will contend for the backup center role.
DEFENSIVE OVERVIEW--Six positions have starters or co-starters returning from 2000. Five others who have started at least once in their Trojan tenure also are back. Five of Troy's top 10 tacklers from last fall return, as do its 2000 co-interception leaders. Although USC's total defense figure (343.0) in 2000 was a slight improvement from the previous season, the Trojans will have to be more opportunistic on defense in 2001. Their 17 takeaways last fall were USC's fewest since at least 1952 (that was quite a turnaround from 1999 when the Trojans led the nation with 39 takeaways). Troy managed only 7 interceptions in 2000, its lowest total since 1957, after getting 21 the year before. The Trojans are loaded in the secondary, but must virtually rebuild their front 7. They'll rely on head coach Pete Carroll, whose background primarily has been on the defensive side of the ball, to mold this unit into a feared presence as the defensive coordinator.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN--The situation on the USC defensive line in 2001 is not as dire as it might appear. Although starters are gone at 3 positions-tackle Ennis Davis (who had 146 tackles, including 36 for losses with 15 sacks, as a 3-year starter) and ends Sultan Abdul-Malik (a 3-year starter who had 22.5 career sacks) and Matt Childers (a 2-year starter)-USC has plenty of quality bodies to fill in. Last year, senior Ryan Nielsen (25 tackles, 3 for losses, 4 deflections, 1 forced fumble in 2000) and junior Bernard Riley (20 tackles, 3 for losses, 1 fumble recovery, 1 blocked kick in 2000) shared a tackle spot. This season, look for Nielsen-a 2-year starter-and Riley to be side by side at tackle. Their backups figure to be redshirt freshmen Malcolm Wooldridge and Kenechi Udeze. One end spot will be a pseudo-linebacker, giving USC's 4-3 look a 3-4 feel. Senior Lonnie Ford (16 tackles, 6 for loss, 4 sacks, 2 deflections, 1 forced fumble in 2000), who has 16 tackles for losses and 15 starts in his career, seems an ideal candidate for that job. The other end could be soph Omar Nazel, who saw brief action in 5 games last season without making a stop. Others competing for time at end will be senior Bobby DeMars, junior Anthony Daye, who has played briefly in just 1 game in his career, and redshirt freshmen Nathan Goodson, Jamaal Williams (he missed last season with a broken leg) and walk-on Jay Bottom. Reinforcements will arrive this fall with junior college transfer Daniel Pryor (Compton College in Compton, Calif.), a junior end, plus 4 prep All-American freshmen: ends Shaun Cody (Los Altos High in Hacienda Heights, Calif.), who was USA Today's national Defensive Player of the Year, Raymond Tago (Poly High in Long Beach, Calif.) and Jason Wardlow (Upland High in Upland, Calif.), plus tackle Mike Patterson (Los Alamitos High in Los Alamitos, Calif.).
LINEBACKERS--Of any area on the USC team, the linebacking corps faces the biggest challenge in 2001. After all, Troy must replace all 3 starters, including a pair of elite linebackers: 3-year starter Zeke Moreno, who posted 285 tackles (33 for losses), 5 picks and 4 touchdowns in his career while topping the Trojans in stops the past 2 seasons, and 2-year starter Markus Steele, who made 152 tackles (29 for losses) in his career. Last year's starter on the strong side (Kori Dickerson) has moved to tight end. Looking to fill in at middle linebacker for Moreno are juniors Aaron Graham (26 tackles, 2 for losses, 1 sack, 2 deflections, 1 forced fumble in 2000), who started there for USC's final 4 games last fall when Moreno moved to the weakside for an injured Steele, and redshirt freshmen Lee Webb, a converted fullback, and walk-on Aaron Orndorff. Steele's weakside spot is up for grabs between senior Henry Wallace (1 tackle in 2000) and junior Mike Pollard (2 tackles in 2000). Either sophomore Chris Prosser (7 tackles in 2000), a 2-game starter on the strong side last year, or senior John Cousins, who redshirted last season with a finger injury, will emerge as the starter at Dickerson's strong side spot. Three frosh will arrive this fall: prep All-Americans Austin Jackson (Serra High in Gardena, Calif.), the son of ex-USC offensive tackle Melvin Jackson, and Marvin Simmons (Poly High in Long Beach, Calif.), plus Bobby Otani (St. Bonaventure High in Ventura, Calif.).
DEFENSIVE BACKS--There is an embarrassment of riches in the USC secondary in 2001 in terms of experience and depth. Eight players have started there in their careers. Junior Troy Polamalu (83 tackles, 5 for losses, 1 sack, 2 interceptions with 1 TD, 7 deflections, 1 fumble recovery in 2000) was the team's No. 2 tackler last fall while starting all season at strong safety. Senior Frank Strong (20 tackles, 1 interception, 4 deflections, 1 forced fumble, 1 blocked kick in 2000), who was USC's top kickoff returner last year (21.6 average on 25 runbacks), and junior DeShaun Hill (39 tackles, 3 for losses, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 5 deflections in 2000) shared the starting free safety duty last season and could do so again this year. Strong also might be used some at tailback, the spot he played earlier in his career. Three redshirt freshmen are also available at safety: Matt Grootegoed, who sat out last year with mononucleosis, and Jason Leach, plus walk-on Kyle Matthews (the son of ex-USC and NFL linebacking great Clay Matthews). The corners are equally stacked. Senior Chris Cash (39 tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 7 deflections, 2 forced fumbles in 2000) and junior Darrell Rideaux (21 tackles, 4 deflections in 2000), also a sprinter for USC's track team with a best of 10.27 in the 100 meters, once again will fight it out for the spot they shared in 2000. On the other side, there's senior 2-year starter Kris Richard (19 tackles, 5 deflections in 2000), who also was Troy's top punt returner last season (7.5 average on 13 runbacks). He has 6 career picks. Backing them up will be junior Kevin Arbet (31 tackles, 1 for a loss, 2 deflections in 2000), a 4-game starter last year and the stepson of ex-USC receiver Jeff Simmons, senior Eric Reese (4 tackles in 2000) and a pair of walk-ons in junior Marcus Johnson and redshirt freshman Matt Lemos. The wild card in the secondary is senior cornerback Antuan Simmons, a 3-year starter who sat out the 2000 campaign while battling a life-threatening illness (a benign abdominal tumor that left him hospitalized for 6 weeks). He has slowly worked his way back into shape now and was impressive in last spring's practice. He is an impact player, with 175 tackles, 7 interceptions and 6 blocked kicks in his career. Joining this group in the fall will be freshman cornerback John Walker (Birmingham High in Van Nuys, Calif.)
SPECIAL TEAMS OVERVIEW--Simply said, the play of USC's special teams must improve. Last fall, the Trojans missed 8 field goals and 10 PATs, had 12 kicks and punts blocks (2 blocked punts were returned for TDs), blocked only 4 kicks and punts themselves, averaged just 36.2 yards per punt (Troy's lowest mark since 1987), finished last in the Pac-10 in net punting (28.4, fifth worst in the country) and ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in kickoff returns (19.5). It's obvious this is a high-priority area in 2001. The punter, short snapper and top kickoff returner and punt returner all are back, as are the part-time starting placekickers. But the kickoff man and holder will be new.
SPECIALISTS--Senior Mike MacGillivray (39.1 average in 2000), who owns a 39.4 career punting average while holding the job the past 3 years, is a battle-tested veteran who has struggled with his consistency. An effective placement punter, about a third of his 219 career punts have pinned opponents within the 20-yard line. He is within range of breaking John Stonehouse's USC career records for punts and punt yardage. Sophomore walk-on Tommy Huff, who has yet to take the field for Troy, will back up MacGillivray. USC's placekicking was an adventure in 2000 and 2 of the 3 kickers are back. Senior David Newbury (4-of-9 field goals, 9-of-12 PATs in 2000) began the year as the kicker, but he was inconsistent. He was replaced midway through the season's fifth game by sophomore John Wall (5-of-5 field goals, 9-of-14 PATs in 2000). All of his field goals were within 27 yards and his 5 missed extra points were all blocked. When he was sidelined by a groin injury and then a knee injury in the final 3 contests (he might miss the 2001 campaign while recovering from the knee injury), the now-graduated David Bell took over. Primarily USC's effective kickoff man the past 4 years (nearly 50% of his 243 career kickoffs were not returned past the 20-yard line, with 62 touchbacks), Bell will long be remembered for his game-winning field goal with 9 seconds to go at UCLA last fall (it was only the second three-pointer of his career and the first after 3 misses in 2000). Junior walk-on Anthony Boscarini, who joined the team last spring, is available, too. Sophomore walk-on center Joe Boskovich handled the snaps on USC's placekicks last year and now also might be asked to do the punt snapping that Zeke Moreno did in 2000. Other snapping possibilities are walk-on sophomore Alex Bottom and sophomore offensive tackle Norm Katnik, plus incoming sophomore linebacker Matt Hayward (Glendale Community College in Glendale, Ariz.). There could be a casting call for a new holder on the placekicks, since last year's holder (Matt Nickels) and his backup (Mike Van Raaphorst) have graduated. Senior punter Mike MacGillivray came out of spring drills as the likely holder, backed by junior wide receiver Marcell Allmond. All of USC's kickoff and punt returners from 2000 are back. They did a solid-if unspectacular-job, so who gets the call in 2001 still is up for grabs. Senior safety Frank Strong (25 kickoff returns, 21.6 average in 2000) led the team last year in kickoff returns. Others who might give it a crack are senior tailback Malaefou MacKenzie (4 kickoff returns, 22.8 average in 2000), redshirt freshman safety Matt Grootegoed and freshman wide receiver Frank Candela. Senior cornerback Kris Richard (13 punt returns, 7.5 average in 2000) topped Troy in punt returns last fall. Freshman wide receiver Frank Candela and junior wide receiver Kareem Kelly (6 punt returns, 3.7 average in 2000) also could give it a try.
GONE FROM 2000--Among USC's offensive losses are 4-year starting tight end Antoine Harris (61 career catches, 7 TDs), 3-year starting tackle Brent McCaffrey, 2000 starting guard Trevor Roberts, quarterback Mike Van Raaphorst (ninth on Troy's career passing list with 15 starts and owner of USC's game passing yardage record), tailback Petros Papadakis (a short-yardage specialist with 621 career yards and 16 scores), wide receiver Matt Nickels (32 catches in 2000) and center Eric Denmon (17 career starts). On defense, USC lost 2 premier linebackers in 3-year starter Zeke Moreno (285 tackles, 33 for losses, 5 picks, 4 TDs in his career), Troy's tackle leader the past 2 seasons, and 2-year starter Markus Steele (152 tackles, 29 for losses in his career), plus 3-year starting tackle Ennis Davis (146 tackles, 36 for losses, 15 sacks in his career). All 3 were NFL draft picks in 2001. Also gone from last year's starting defense are ends Sultan Abdul-Malik (22.5 career sacks), a 3-year starter, and Matt Childers, a 2-year starter. Other top defenders lost are safety Ifeanyi Ohalete (168 tackles and 5 interceptions in 21 career starts) and end-tackle Shamsud-Din Abdul-Shaheed (74 tackles in 14 career starts). David Bell, primarily USC's kickoff man the past 4 years but who will long be remembered for his game-winning field goal with 9 seconds to go at UCLA last fall, has graduated.
ASSISTANT COACHES-With the head coaching change this year, there are 7 new assistant coaches on the USC staff: offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Norm Chow (who worked wonders last year at North Carolina State and before that for 27 years at BYU, where he coached such star quarterbacks as Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielsen, Ty Detmer and Robbie Bosco), associate head coach/secondary coach DeWayne Walker (he spent the past 3 years with the New England Patriots after stops at Utah State, BYU, Oklahoma State and California), running backs coach Wayne Moses (who has coached Pac-10 runners the last 11 years at Washington, California and UCLA), wide receiver coach Kirby Wilson (he was with the Washington Redskins and New England Patriots following stints at Iowa State, Southern Illinois and Wyoming), offensive line coach Keith Uperesa (he came from Idaho State after a long and successful career at Snow J.C.), linebackers coach Nick Holt (previously at Louisville and Idaho) and tight ends coach Lane Kiffin (the son of longtime NFL and college coach Monte Kiffin). They join holdovers Ed Orgeron (defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator) and Kennedy Pola (special teams coordinator). Two young coaches-offensive assistant Steve Sarkisian (a record-setting quarterback under Chow at BYU) and defensive assistant Rocky Seto (a former USC linebacker)-joined the staff as graduate assistants.
STATS OF NOTE, THE GOOD-USC led the Pac-10 in total offense (415.9, its highest output since 1989) and was 23rd nationally in passing offense (262.3) in 2000...USC's 259 first downs in 2000 led the Pac-10...USC converted a Pac-10 best 41.7% (75-of-180) of its third downs in 2000...USC opponents returned only 27 of 59 kickoffs last year (fewest in the Pac-10), while Troy's 45 kickoff returns were a school record...USC's 1,843 rushing yards in 2000 were its most since 1991 (its per game average of 153.6 was its most since 1991 and its per carry average of 4.1 was its highest since 1989)...Carson Palmer is fifth on both USC's career passing list (397 completions) and total offense chart (5,050 yards). His 5,159 career passing yards is the most by a Trojan at the end of his sophomore year. He is on pace to break Rob Johnson's school career records for completions (676) and passing yardage (8,472), plus Rodney Peete's USC career total offense yardage mark (8,640)...Sultan McCullough's 1,163 rushing yards in 2000 were the most at USC since 1990. He hit the 100-yard rushing barrier 7 times in 2000 (the most by a Trojan since 1989). He is the fastest player ever to wear a Trojan football uniform (10.17 in the 100 meters)...Kareem Kelly is ninth on Troy's all-time pass catching chart with 109 grabs. He is within sight of Johnnie Morton's school records for receptions (201) and receiving yardage (3,201). He has a reception in all 23 games he has played as a Trojan...With 219 career punts for 8,618 yards, Mike MacGillivray is within range of breaking John Stonehouse's USC career records for punts (259) and punt yardage (10,578).
STATS OF NOTE, THE BAD-USC had a nation-high 36 turnovers last season, its most since 1977...USC's 17 takeaways last fall were its fewest since at least 1952 (that was quite a turnaround from 1999 when the Trojans led the nation with 39 takeaways). Troy managed only 7 interceptions in 2000, its lowest total since 1957, after getting 21 the year before...Last fall, the Trojans missed 8 field goals and 10 PATs, had 12 kicks and punts blocks (2 blocked punts were returned for TDs), blocked only 4 kicks and punts themselves, averaged just 36.2 yards per punt (Troy's lowest mark since 1987), finished last in the Pac-10 in net punting (28.4, fifth worst in the country) and ranked ninth in the Pac-10 in kickoff returns (19.5)..In 2000, USC was outscored in a season for the first time since 1991 (337 to 309) and allowed the most points in its history...In 7 of its 12 games last year, USC spotted opponents a cumulative 92-0 lead before scoring.
***If senior CB Antuan Simmons-a 3-year starter with 175 tackles, 7 interceptions and 6 blocked kicks in his career-even steps onto the field in 2001, it will be regarded as the comeback of the year in college football. After all, he has recovered from a life threatening illness. Simmons was set to start for his fourth season in 2000 and was a pre-season All-American who might have been a first round draft choice this past spring. But, while getting an MRI as part of his rehab for a back injury that occurred late in the 1999 season, doctors noticed a benign abdominal tumor. He had surgery in May of 2000 to remove the tumor and was expected to be hospitalized for 4-5 days. Instead, he was hospitalized for 6 weeks, had 2 surgeries and came close to death 3 times. He lost 40 pounds. He redshirted the 2000 season while recuperating and had additional surgery in November for a hernia. He wasn't expected to participate fully in 2001 spring practice, but he was ahead of schedule, so he was allowed to go full-speed from the start and really opened some eyes. At the end of the spring, he was listed as a co-starter.
***USC has a 23-year-old freshman in WR/RET Frank Candela. The one-time Boston prep football sensation spent the past 4 seasons playing minor league baseball in the Brewers organization, but wanted to give football another try. Known for his speed and quickness, the 5-8, 175-pounder is nicknamed The Flash. He was born in Boston, but soon after moved with his family to the Italian island of Sicily, where he lived for 7 years before coming back to Boston (his parents returned to live in Sicily when he was 14 and Candela remained in Boston with an older brother).
***The 2001 season marks the 40th anniversary of Traveler, USC's white horse mascot.
***This year is also the 20th anniversary of USC's most recent Heisman Trophy, won by TB Marcus Allen in 1981 (USC's fourth).
***Pete Carroll's arrival at USC is extra special, because he gets to see his daughter, Jaime, on a daily basis now. She is a sophomore defensive specialist on USC's women's volleyball team which last fall reached the NCAA Final Four (and is a favorite to win the title in 2001). However, Carroll will miss out on watching his oldest son, Brennan, a senior tight end at Pittsburgh.
***Look for 2 slight retro changes on USC's uniform in 2001: the Trojans will have gray facemasks (instead of cardinal) and will wear white shoelaces (instead of black). Also, on the back of their helmets will be a gold football-shaped decal reading 'McKay' in memory of legendary coach John McKay (4 national championships, 8 Rose Bowl trips, 127 victories), who died June 10.
***USC's football team can field a pretty imposing track and field squad...and, in fact, Trojan track coach Ron Allice benefits from a number of footballers (many helped Troy win the 2000 Pac-10 meet). TB Sultan McCullough is the fastest Trojan football player ever, having run a 10.17 in the 100 (fifth fastest of any USC trackster in history!). He was the Pac-10 100 champ in 1999. WR Kareem Kelly, who owns the world junior record in the indoor 50, has clocked 10.28 in the 100. CB Darrell Rideaux has gone 10.27, CB Miguel Fletcher has gone 10.31 and Michigan transfer TB Justin Fargas (he's ineligible this season) is a 10.47 guy. Fargas (1997), Rideaux (1998) and Kelly (1999) all won the California state high school 100. WR Marcell Allmond is a 13.54 high hurdler (he was a 2-time California state prep champ) and national Junior Olympic record-setting decathlete. And, get this, 6-4, 235-pound TE Kori Dickerson (he started at linebacker last fall, but likely will start on offense this year) is a 6-8 high jumper who placed second in this past season's USC-UCLA dual meet (and third the previous 2 years). OT Nate Steinbacher and OG Travis Watkins are shot putters for Troy. And, among the incoming freshmen, WR William Buchanon, TB Darryl Poston and CB John Walker are legitimate speed threats.
***OG Faaesea Mailo, a 6-3, 325-pound Hawaiian, participated in the sumo club in high school, where he won the Hawaii state championship. He even went to Japan in 1996 to train with pro sumo wrestlers, who tried unsuccessfully to convince him to take up the sport as a profession. He missed the 1997 and 1998 USC seasons while on a Mormon mission in Sapporo, Japan (imagine opening your door and seeing him!). He is fluent in Japanese. In short yardage situations the past 2 seasons, he lined up at fullback a la Refrigerator Perry and proved to be a devastating blocker.
***LB John Cousins is deaf in one ear and impaired in the other. He wears a hearing aid and reads lips. That handicap could present some unique challenges on the football field. Incidentally, PK John Wall knows sign language and has volunteered with deaf and hearing impaired youth programs.
***OT Phillip Eaves spent part of 1997 in the Army at Fort Jackson, S.C.
***QB Matt Cassel played on the Northridge (Calif.) team that was a finalist at the 1994 Little League World Series, while LB Bobby Otani was a national champion in judo.
***Four Trojans have Hollywood connections. As a youngster, USC freshman cornerback John Walker was a television actor who appeared in such shows as 'E.R.' and '7th Heaven' (in fact, he didn't play football until his sophomore year of high school because of a clause in his acting contract that prevented him from doing anything that could affect his appearance). TB Justin Fargas is the son of actor Antonio Fargas, who has appeared in television (including as Huggy Bear on 'Starsky and Hutch') and film ('Shaaft,' 'Pretty Baby,' 'The Gamble' and 'Car Wash,' among others). OT Derek Graf's father, Allan, is a stuntman, stunt coordinator and second unit director who has been involved in many noted Hollywood films, most recently 'On Any Given Sunday.' USC linebackers coach Nick Holt is the grandson of Clarence 'Buster' Crabbe, USC's first All-American swimmer (1931) who was a 1931 NCAA freestyle titlist and 1932 Olympic gold medalist before starring in Hollywood as Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.
***Three Trojans have fathers who played on national championship USC football squads: OG Derek Graf (father, Allan, was on the 1972 team), LB Austin Jackson (father, Melvin, was on the 1974 squad) and S Kyle Matthews (father,1977 All-American Clay, was on the 1974 team). Matthews' uncle, Bruce, was a 1982 All-American offensive guard at USC. Several other Trojans have relatives with USC football connections. CB Kevin Arbet is the stepson of ex-Trojan (1980-82) Jeff Simmons. Two Trojans had cousins who played at USC--WR Kareem Kelly (Rashard Cook, 1995-98) and TE-SNP Joe Boskovich (Martin Boskovich, 1993)--and two had uncles who were Trojan footballers: S Troy Polamalu (Kennedy Pola, 1982-85, now USC's special teams coordinator) and OT Norm Katnik (John Katnik, 1986-87).
***Speaking of genes: CB Kevin Arbet's cousin, Lamarr Arbet, is a sophomore defensive lineman at San Jose State and his uncle, Darren Arbet, is the head coach of the San Jose SaberCats of the Arena Football League. WR William Buchanon is the son of ex-NFL star Willie Buchanon, a 1971 All-American cornerback at San Diego State who was a 3-time Pro Bowler during his 11-year (1972-82) NFL career with the Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers. TB Miguel Fletcher's father, Ned, was on the football and track teams at Cal State Northridge. TE Alex Holmes' father, Mike, lettered at defensive end at Michigan in 1974 and 1975. TE Kolomona Kapanui's cousin, Chad Kapanui, plays football at Hawaii. OT Norm Katnik's father, Norman, was a 2-year starting center at Arizona (1978-79). TB David Kirtman's uncle played football at California. FB Charlie Landrigan's father was a quarterback at a small college in North Dakota. TB Sultan McCullough's brother, Saladin, was a tailback at Oregon in 1996 and 1997 who has played in the XFL and NFL, while his late father, Bruce, ran track at San Jose State in the 1960s and his mother, Mabel, played basketball on the 1959 Arkansas high school championship team. OG Faaesea Mailo's father, James, played football at Hawaii, while his brother, Anipati, is a junior linebacker at Hawaii and another brother, Fulutusi, is a sophomore linebacker at Montana State. PK David Newbury's father, Gerry, played professional soccer in England. S Troy Polamalu's uncle, Al Pola, played football at Penn State, a cousin, Nicky Sualua, was a running back with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys who attended Ohio State, another cousin, Leie Sualua, was a defensive lineman at Oregon, and another cousin, Joe Polamalu, played for Oregon State in 1987 and 1988. C A.J. Single's father, Doug, played at Stanford, then was the Cardinal's offensive line coach before serving as athletic director at Northwestern and SMU. DE Raymond Tago's brother, Seth, is a freshman defensive lineman at Sacramento State, while another brother, Nate, plays football at Long Beach (Calif.) City College. LB coach Nick Holt's wife, Julie, was the head women's basketball at Nevada Reno, Pacific, Gonzaga and Idaho. TE coach Lane Kiffin's father, Monte, is the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (he is a longtime NFL and collegiate assistant coach who also served as North Carolina State's head coach in the early 1980s).
***How about these names: FB Sunny Byrd. Walk-on WR Forrest Mozart. OG Faaesea Mailo (his first name means 'Someone who does things differently'). 6-3, 295-pound DT Kenechi Udeze (he goes by BKU, as in Big Kenechi Udeze). Walk-on WR D. Hale (it's for Donald, but he goes by D.).
IN THE NFL--USC is always well-represented in the NFL. At the start of training camp this summer, there were 38 ex-Trojans on NFL rosters. Last year, there were 31 Trojans on opening day NFL rosters, including players such as LBs Junior Seau and Chris Claiborne, OLs Tony Boselli and Bruce Matthews, DLs Willie McGinest and Darrell Russell, WRs Keyshawn Johnson and Johnnie Morton, QB Rob Johnson, and DBs Jason Sehorn, Sammy Knight and Daylon McCutcheon. Six NFL head coaches have USC ties (either as former players or assistants): New York Giants' Jim Fassel, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher, Seattle's Mike Holmgren, San Francisco's Steve Mariucci, Miami's Dave Wannstedt and San Diego's Mike Riley. Six current USC players have relatives with NFL playing backgrounds: WR William Buchanon (father, Willie Buchanon), LB Austin Jackson (father, Melvin Jackson), WR Kareem Kelly (cousin, Rashard Cook), S Kyle Matthews (grandfather, Clay Sr., father, Clay Matthews, uncle, Bruce Matthews), TB Sultan McCullough (brother, Saladin McCullough) and S Troy Polamalu (cousin, Nicky Sualua). Additionally, head coach Pete Carroll was an NFL head coach and assistant coach, and assistants DeWayne Walker, Kirby Wilson and Lane Kiffin were NFL assistants. Five assistant coaches played professionally: Keith Uperesa in the NFL, Walker, Wilson, Norm Chow and Steve Sarkisian in the CFL and Walker also played in the USFL.
ON TV--USC is one of America's most televised teams. The Trojans have appeared on live national, regional or local telecasts 284 times, including all 12 games each of the past 3 seasons (1998, 1999 and 2000). In fact, USC had an amazing streak of 111 consecutive games on some form of live television from 1988 to 1997.
NEW RADIO STATION-KMPC-AM 1540 is the new radio home of USC football beginning this season, with Pete Arbogast handling the play-by-play, former USC All-American and NFL quarterback Paul McDonald as analyst and ex-USC All-American and NFL defensive tackle Tim Ryan working the sidelines. The 3-year contract calls for KMPC-an affiliate of Sporting News Radio, the largest and only live 24-7 sports talk radio network in the United States-to broadcast live all Trojan football and men's basketball games, as well as at least 6 women's basketball games and all post-season baseball games. The station will also air a weekly 1-hour midweek evening show featuring Trojans athletics and a daily USC sports report minute during drive time, as well as feature Troy in an extension and substantial advertising and promotion campaign. USC's football broadcasts will be aired throughout the West on a network established by KMPC.
USC IS THE PLACE TO BE
Based on several national accolades it has received recently, USC can stake its claim as one of the nation's premier schools. USC was named the 'College of the Year' by the 2000 edition of the Time/Princeton Review College Guide because of the remarkable bonds it has forged with the local community. The editors said USC has one of the most ambitious social-outreach programs of any university in the nation and cited the school's model of service learning (applying academic theory to real-life situations through public service). They also pointed out that USC's undergraduate applications have nearly doubled over the last few years and it is enrolling the most academically accomplished freshman classes in its history. Troy also was selected as one of America's nine 'hottest schools' by the 2001 edition of the Newsweek/Kaplan College Guide because it lives up to its reputation as a top-notch institution of higher education. Students quoted in the guide said that what attracted them to the university was Los Angeles' ethnic diversity, the offer of scholarships, the small classroom sizes and USC's standing in academe. Also in 2001, the Association of American Colleges and Universities picked USC as one of 16 'Leadership Institutions' for providing stimulating educational experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. USC was cited for emphasizing a campus culture featuring new learning techniques, curriculum and organizational structure and for demonstrating a strong commitment to liberal arts education relevant to the contemporary world. The organization said USC not only linked liberal arts and pre-professional study, but offered students the opportunity to learn by doing through off-campus work in community projects and internships. Also, USC was lauded for stressing critical thinking, effective communication and contributing to a diverse society.
ACADEMICS--USC's two most recent graduation rates for football are the highest in USC history. The 2001 official NCAA graduation rate for Trojan football players was 82%, an all-time high (topping the previous USC high of 80% in 2000). That rate compared to 73% for the general USC student body...and it was about 30 percentage points higher than the national football average for Division I schools. Among the top scholars on the 2001 Trojan squad are LB Aaron Orndorff (team-high 3.89 GPA in geology), TE Chad Cook (3.22, business), TB Mark Gomez (3.22, political science), QB Matt Cassel (3.14), OG Spencer Torgan (3.03, business), DE Bobby DeMars (2.96, business administration), P Mike MacGillivray (2.95, public policy and management), C-SNP Joe Boskovich (2.92, business), TE Scott Huber (2.91, communication), TE Alex Holmes (2.87, business), P Tommy Huff (2.85, history), CB Matt Lemos (2.81), TE Gregg Guenther (2.76) and DE Jay Bottom (2.75). Huber was a 1999 and 2000 Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention choice. In its history, USC football has produced 22 Academic All-American first teamers (tops in the Pac-10 and sixth in the nation), 20 NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship winners, 12 National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes, 4 NCAA Today's Top Six winners, 1 Rhodes Scholar and 1 Academic All-American Hall of Famer.
QB Carson Palmer, on new offensive coordinator Norm Chow: 'He's old-school. When I say he's old-school, I mean he dresses old-school, too! His shorts are up over his belly button and his shirt is tucked into his shorts.'
FB Charlie Landrigan, a political science major who would like to be a politician one day: 'I ran for a lot of offices in high school. I was my class president. Then I ran for school president my senior year and lost out to my ex-girlfriend. I had actually run just to spite her, but things didn't work out!'
OG Faaesea Mailo, a 6-3, 325-pounder who did his Mormon mission in Japan: 'Oh, I had a couple of doors slammed in my face, but for the most part it was a pleasant experience. One time, this little old lady looked at me, screamed and slammed the door. We decided to just leave a pamphlet in her mailbox. Every day on my mission, I always stopped some kind of crowd. I would be walking down the street and you would see everyone just stop in their tracks. They must have thought I was a sumo wrestler.'
WR Frank Candela, a 23-year-old freshman ex-minor leaguer who hails from Boston: 'I was unfulfilled by baseball. I wanted to give football another shot. So I sent letters to a variety of Division I coaches in December of 2000. I was hoping and praying. USC called and asked me to send a tape. I sent it. I guess Coach (Pete) Carroll got it as he was going out Christmas shopping. He took it with him, popped it into a VCR at a Best Buy and he liked what he saw. He called me on my cell phone and said, `Listen, Frankie. I'm at Best Buy right now. I just watched your film and I wanted to ask you, do you want to be a Trojan?' I heard shoppers in the background cheering the tape. I told him, `You've got my 100 percent commitment!''
P Mike MacGillivray, on contact: 'I love making tackles and I love hitting. I like coming down on a punt and making a big hit. It is even sweeter when the ball carrier looks up and sees it is the punter that hit him.'
TB Malaefou MacKenzie, on rugby versus football: 'I never knew what football was until I came here (from Western Samoa when he was 9). I used to think it was a wussy sport, compared to rugby. I'd tease my brother when he had it on TV. But I found out football is not a wussy sport. Both are physical, but I think rugby is more physical because there are no pads. But in football, people are bigger and stronger.'
OT-OG Faaesea Mailo, on the difficulty when taking his USC freshman portrait: 'The team dress jacket they had just wouldn't fit. My arms were too big and every time I tried to put the jacket on, the arms would start to rip. If you look at the team photos from my freshman year, you'll see I'm the only one with a windbreaker on.'
PK David Newbury, on placekicking: 'It's 1.25 seconds. You could be a hero or a goat that quickly.'
CB Antuan Simmons, on playing pass defense: 'I'd rather they throw my way. I like to compete. They're making my highlight film is the way I like to look at it.'
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