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2021 USC Football Fall Camp Report #11: Naming the Captains

Aug 19, 2021

After another padded practice, USC announced its four captains for the 2021 football season.

  • In a players-only vote, WR Drake London, RB Vavae Malepeai, S Isaiah Pola-Mao and P Ben Griffiths were named team captains.
  • Head coach Clay Helton emphasized that there were several players who earned votes from their teammates. "One of the things I was amazed with this time around in the players' voting was how many leaders there were up top," he said. "These four were at the very, very top."
  • Griffiths is the first specialist to be named captain since 1998 (Adam Abrams). "Deeply humbled and honored, particularly when it's voted on by your peers," said Griffiths. "The beauty of our playing group is that we have so many leaders within the group."
  • Griffiths is a unique character in the locker room, coming to USC after a professional career in the Australian Football League. He will turn 30 during the season. "You've seen it since the moment he stepped in the building," Malepeai said about Griffiths. "Being an older dude, he really did a great job of taking the younger cats in and showing them the way."
  • Although not quite as old, Malepeai is a veteran as well, beginning his sixth season at USC! "Vae means everything to us," London said. "That's my brother right there. For the offense, he means a lot. He's been here the longest out of everybody."
  • London is the youngest of the quartet, but he has impressed his teammates since the moment he stepped on campus. "You look at when he came in as a freshman, he was one of the more under-recruited players," Malepeai said about London. "I have seen his work ethic remain the same. That's something that's never changed about him. From the moment he stepped in here, he was a worker."
  • London can't believe how fast the time has gone, learning from some great receivers and now being asked to lead the team. "It's just so surreal," he said. "Having your peers look at you in a way as a leader means something special."
  • Pola-Mao earned the captain's C for the second consecutive season, but he did not take the honor for granted, and he plans to lead by committee. "Even though I am the only defensive captain, there's still other guys on the defensive side that can speak up and lead with me," he said. "I just happened to be picked. I am blessed and honored to be that guy."