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High Hopes For Sam And Cam

sam and cam.jpgUSC QB Sam Darnold and LB Cam Smith were named Sporting News Preseason First Team All-Americans today.

Sporting News deemed redshirt sophomore Darnold the best QB in the nation after a rookie season during which he posted 3,086 yards and 31 TD. Darnold also rushed for 250 yards and 2 TD last year on his way to earning the 2016 Archie Griffin Award, Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year, Football Writers Freshman All-American first team and more impressive accolades.

Smith, Darnold's red-headed counterpart on the other side of the ball, has had two outstanding seasons in Cardinal and Gold. Last year, Smith led the team with 83 tackles, including 7 TFL, adding a sack and a forced fumble. The year before that, he notched 78 tackles before a season-ending knee injury, and still earned Freshman All-American honors.

Should Sam and Cam earn All-American status in 2017, they'd become the 167th and 168th All-Americans in USC football history. Last year, Adoree' Jackson, Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler were named All-Americans. USC has produced at least one All-American in 14 of the last 17 seasons.

The 2017 USC football season kicks off on Sept. 2. Click here for tickets!

Trojan Town: Deontay Burnett

Trojan wide receiver Deontay Burnett was born and raised in Compton, Calif., just over 10 miles from USC's campus.

In the first episode of our "Trojan Town" series, he explains how his L.A. upbringing made him who he is today and led him to play for his hometown Trojans.

Trojan Made: Daniel Imatorbhebhe

While the typical college student spends the summer relaxing, USC tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe explained that the Trojans are waking up for workouts at 4:45 a.m. with one common objective: to win.

Best And Brightest

Two of USC's most impressive recent alumni were named USC's recipients of the 2017 Pac-12 Tom Hansen Conference Medal today.

Click here for the full release!

Each year, the Pac-12 bestows the Tom Hansen Medal on the male and female student-athlete from each school that exhibits the greatest combination of scholarship, athletics and leadership.

USC's female recipient is swimmer Anika Apostalon. Apostalon was an NCAA champion, a nine-time All-American and a team captain before graduating from USC with a 3.92 cumulative GPA last month. She also earned Academic All-American and Pac-12 Women's Swimming Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors in 2017. In February, Apostalon partnered with the Pac-12 to give words of encouragement on National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

On the men's side, recent USC football alum Zach Banner earned the award. Banner, who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round of the NFL Draft earlier this year, was a team captain and an All-American in 2016. Banner was also a Senior CLASS Award finalist, the winner of the team's Community Service Award and the recipient of the 2017 Southern California Sports Broadcasters Post-Graduate Scholarship his senior year.

Banner is the 16th USC football player to win the award, while Apostalon is the seventh USC swimmer to win on the women's side.

Trojans At The Top

Based on the votes of their peers, four USC football alums earned a spot on NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2017 list this year.

Cowboys LT Tyron Smith was the highest-ranked offensive lineman on the list, coming in at No. 18. The 2010 Morris Trophy winner earned All-Pro honors in 2016 after helping lead the Cowboys to the NFC East title and the second-best run game in the league. Smith moved up to No. 18 after being ranked No. 42 last year, No. 36 in 2015 and No. 78 in 2013.

USC's next-best player according to current NFL-ers is Packers LB Clay Matthews III. Matthews missed four games due to injury in 2016, but racked up 24 total tackles and 5.0 sacks to earn No. 82 on this year's list. Matthews is just 2.5 sacks away from becoming the Packers' all-time leader in the category.

Just behind Matthews is Titans DT Jurrell Casey, at No. 86. Casey had a Pro Bowl year, posting 44 tackles, 5.0 sacks and 8 tackles for loss. Casey has been a steady contributor for the Titans since joining the NFL; He's one of just three defensive tackles with 5 or more sacks in each season since 2013.

Pro Bowl Vikings DE Everson Griffen is the last Trojan on the list, coming in at No 92. Griffen notched 48 tackles and 8.0 sacks in 2016, plus 2 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries.

Only two schools had more than four players on the list: Alabama and Georgia.

These four Trojans, plus many more, will be back in action beginning in September.

usc on top 100.jpg

Days With DK

DSC_7337.jpgA quick search of the hashtag #DaysWithDK on Instagram shows the highlights of a young man making the most of every moment.

Former USC linebacker Devon Kennard used his career at Troy to make his way to the Big Apple, where he's a rising star for the New York Giants with a passion for bettering not only himself, but the community around him.

During his time at USC, Kennard started 32 games, racked up 195 tackles and earned All-Pac-12 honors. The Phoenix, AZ native also excelled in the classroom -- earning a bachelor's degree in communication and a Master's in communication management, while boasting the team's highest GPA in 2013.

Kennard wanted to take advantage of every opportunity afforded him in college, so he jumped at the chance to travel to Haiti in 2012 with 15 of his teammates. Over the course of five days, the Trojans built four homes for families affected by the devastating 2010 earthquake.

"I think it sparked something in me that I'm going to continue to do for the rest of my life," Kennard said at the time, and he's come through on that promise countless times since.

Just two months after returning from the life-changing trip, Kennard suffered a season-ending pectoral injury. Though a disappointing setback, the injury allowed Kennard to reconsider his priorities, especially in light of his recent experience in Haiti.

"I started to question my identity, because I associated my identity so much with 'football player,'" Kennard said. "There were times that I felt depressed, sad, mad -- I had all those feelings. And I realized I never wanted to make football my entire life and feel this way again. It made me look into 'What else am I interested in? What else am I passionate about? What things do I enjoy doing?' I think that was the turning point for me."

Kennard redshirted that year and came back stronger in 2013, being named a team captain, earning the team's Most Inspirational Player award and performing well enough to be drafted by the Giants in the fifth round (174th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Despite being a late-round pick, Kennard has carved out a starting role with the Giants, as well as an important role in the community. As soon as he settled down in East Rutherford, Kennard started finding different ways to give back. He's attended Salute to Service events, NFL Play 60 events, NFL Draft parties with fans and more. He's involved himself with the Joyful Heart Foundation, which supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as A Call to Men, which educates young men about how to practice a "healthy and respectful manhood." And earlier this month, he announced a campaign called Reading With DK, created to encourage children to read this summer.

"I have a passion for kids, so anything involving youth education or anything like that, I enjoy," says Kennard.

Last year, Kennard took that passion to the next level when he began volunteering with New City Kids, a Jersey City-based organization that helps low-income elementary schoolers complete their homework, learn to play instruments, practice their faith and more. After his very first visit, Kennard says he "immediately fell in love" with the children and the structure of the program.

"They created a really cool system where the younger kids grow up and become the hired counselors," Kennard explained. "The older kids walk [the younger kids] through their whole college application, so 100 percent of the kids that go through their whole program go to college. And things like that are really important, especially in low income areas, where kids don't have as much opportunity."

During the 2016 NFL season, Kennard spent his one off-day every week mentoring kids in the program, and has continued to do so throughout his offseason.

DK New City Kids.jpgSo how does Kennard find the time to fit all his commitments in his busy schedule?

"I think it comes down to priorities," he says. "My biggest hobby is investing in myself. And by that, I mean I'm not big on video games -- I don't even own a video game console. I haven't since, like, middle school. When I'm not training, watching film, I'm trying to get better in another way. I'm reading books, trying to take meetings and meet new people, doing stuff in the community to give back. It's all about what you find is important. Things that are important to you, you find time for."

Despite writing a business plan for his own nonprofit while in graduate school, Kennard has decided that for now, he can maximize his impact by working with programs that have already built the foundation to do good work in the community.

Next up on Kennard's ever-evolving to-do list is coming back to USC to share his advice with current student-athletes.

"I want to go back to USC and talk to the guys next season about networking, meeting people, taking advantage of opportunities and building a network outside of your football world. I think that's really important."

Follow Kennard on Twitter and Instagram to stay in the loop on his achievements on and off the field.

Lynn The Legend

17_Baseball_LynnHOF.jpgOn July 1, USC baseball legend Fred Lynn will be inducted into the Omaha College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Click here for the full release!

In his three years at USC, Lynn led the Trojans to three straight NCAA titles. He played 158 games in Cardinal and Gold, batting .320 with 28 home runs and 11 RBI. In 1971, he earned a spot on the College World Series All-Tournament team after hitting .467. In 1972, he was named an All-American. Lynn also enjoyed a stint on the USC football team in 1971.

Lynn, who was born in Chicago, is already a member of the National College Baseball Hall of Fame (Class of 2007).

The Omaha College Baseball Hall of Fame was created more recently, in 2013. Despite its young nature, Lynn is already the second Trojan inducted. Former USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux, who led the Trojans to 11 national championships, was one of six members of the inaugural class.

USC's two representatives in the Omaha College Baseball Hall of Fame are the third-most of any school in the nation.

Lynn will be officially inducted in a ceremony on July 1 at the College Home Run Derby in Omaha. The ceremony will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. PT.

Trojan Made: Ivan Lewis

This summer, USC football is putting in work to get ready for the 2017 season.

Leading the Trojans into battle is head strength and conditioning coach Ivan Lewis. Lewis details the importance of eating right, sleeping soundly and "doing the little things better" in the first episode of Trojan Made.


showyourgrit-2.jpgToday, USC Athletics honors the memory of Trojan football alum and film star John Wayne by joining the John Wayne Cancer Foundation's #ShowYourGrit campaign.

John Wayne, born Marion Morrison, played tackle at USC in 1925 and 1926 before enjoying a film career that turned him into a cowboy icon, starring in films such as Stagecoach, Rio Bravo and True Grit. He beat lung cancer in 1964, but 15 years later, he lost his battle with stomach cancer.

Wayne's family founded the John Wayne Cancer Foundation to fund programs that save lives through research, education, awareness and support.

During the month of June, the #ShowYourGrit campaign raises money for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. Trojan fans can upload photos of themselves wearing a bandana or a cowboy hat to Twitter, Instagram or the JWCF's Facebook page using the hashtag #ShowYourGrit, and $1 will be donated to the foundation.

Click here to learn more about the John Wayne Cancer Foundation and click here to donate!

New Horizons

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe plans to catch every opportunity that comes his way at USC, including a summer trip to Chile with the Marshall School of Business. Wise beyond his years, Imatorbhebhe recounts the value of the experience in a new Trojan Spotlight.

Photo Gallery: 2017 TAF New Member Day

This weekend, USC's Trojan Athletic Fund welcomed its new members with a football event on campus. The new members enjoyed an afternoon with the USC coaching staff, participated in warm-up drills and team drills, then finished the day by meeting legendary head coach John Robinson and senior linebacker Uchenna Nwosu.

For more information on the Trojan Athletic fund, visit their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Trojan Spelling Bee

In honor of the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals tonight, USC QB Sam Darnold, TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe and S Chris Hawkins competed in a Spelling Bee of their own, taking a stab at their teammates' difficult names.

Dream Gift For Dad

17-fathersday-social.jpgWhat should you get your USC Dad for Father's Day? You can buy him yet another tie or you can get him tickets, pregame field passes and a USC hat as part of our Father's Day package.

Click here to buy it.

Purchase before June 15 to receive it before Father's Day.

Kiwi Crasher

During spring ball, USC football hosted a number of visitors -- from young children aspiring to wear Cardinal and Gold to former players who now don the colors of their respective NFL teams.

But perhaps the most entertaining guest was James McOnie, the host of New Zealand's "The Crowd Goes Wild" TV show.

McOnie chatted with QB Sam Darnold and took lessons from USC's punter from down under, Chris Tilbey.


mark carrier.jpgTwo of the most dominant safeties in college football history -- USC's Mark Carrier and Troy Polamalu -- were named to the 2018 College Football Hall of Fame ballot today.

Carrier, who played at USC from 1987-89, was a two-time All-American and a two-time Pac-10 First Teamer. During his junior year, he became the first Thorpe Award winner in USC history. His trophy sat alone in Heritage Hall until Adoree' Jackson won the same award this December. Carrier, who led the Trojans out of the tunnel prior to their win against Cal last season, earned a spot on the Pac-12 All-Century Team in 2015 alongside Polamalu.

Polamalu, who famously wore No. 43 at USC, stepped on the scene 10 years after Carrier's departure. In his four years at Troy, he was a two-time captain, a two-time Pac-10 First Teamer, a two-time All-American and a Thorpe Award finalist.

USC currently has 40 representatives in the College Football Hall of Fame. Only Notre Dame, with 45, has more. Should Polamalu and Carrier make the cut, they would join Trojan greats such as Marcus Allen (Class of 2000), Ronnie Lott (Class of 2002), Sam Cunningham (Class of 2010) and, most recently, Matt Leinart (Class of 2017).

The College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018 will be announced on Jan. 8, 2018.


Tune In For The Trojans

Today, USC Football learned the kick times and TV broadcasts for five of its games this fall.

The Trojans kick off the 2017 season against Western Michigan at the LA Memorial Coliseum on Sept. 2. The game begins at 2:15 p.m. and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.

USC begins its Pac-12 slate the following Saturday at the Coliseum. The Sept. 9 game against Stanford kicks off at 5:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on FOX.

The Trojans get another primetime showdown the following week against the Texas Longhorns. USC will host a rematch of the 2005 national championship game at 5:30 p.m. on FOX on Sept. 16.

USC's only weekday game of the season will take place on Sept. 29 at Washington State. Kickoff comes at 7:30 p.m. that Friday night, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Nearly a month after that, the Trojans will compete once again in the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football. USC heads to Notre Dame on Oct. 21 for a 4:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. ET) game, which will be broadcast on NBC.

USC still awaits game times for home games against Oregon State, Utah, Arizona and UCLA, and away games against Cal, Arizona State and Colorado.

Click here to purchase tickets!

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Five Stars

For nearly a century now, USC has dominated the NFL Draft.

USC has produced more NFL Draft selections than any other school, more first round selections than any other school and is tied for most No. 1 picks of school.

Since the turn of the 21st century, 102 players have come from USC.

With the constant stream of talent coming out of Troy, it's tough to single out the most impressive USC draftees, but a recent article did just that, ranking the five best USC draft picks since 2000.

At the top, the NFL placed four-time All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers 16th overall in 2003 and earned eight Pro Bowl selections, two Super Bowl rings and an NFL Defensive Player of the Year award during his 12-year career.

Panthers center Ryan Kalil comes in at No. 2 on the list. The Panthers took Kalil 59th overall in the 2007 Draft, and he's been a rock since then, earning five Pro Bowl invitations and two All-Pro honors.

The NFL ranked Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III the third-best Trojan draftee of the century. Matthews III continued his family legacy by being drafted No. 26 overall in 2009 and going on to make the Pro Bowl in six of his eight NFL seasons.

Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith is slotted at No. 4 on NFL's list. In 2011, he became the Cowboys' highest-drafted lineman since 1966, at No. 9 overall. He's a four-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro who paved the way for the NFL's second-best running game in 2016.

Rounding out the Top 5 is former linebacker Lofa Tatupu. In his six-year career with the Seahawks, he topped 100 tackles three times, earned three Pro Bowl invitations and one All-Pro nod.

Brian Cushing, Carson Palmer, Leonard Williams, Matt Kalil, Everson Griffen, Jurrell Casey, Matt Cassel, Jordan Cameron and Steve Smith all earned honorable mention from the NFL.

USC's five most recent draftees have a chance to make their mark when the 2017 NFL season kicks off in September.


100 Days to Kickoff

The first milestone has finally arrived. It's 100 days to USC kickoff!

Click here for tickets!

Gunning In Germany

USC Football alum Conner Sullivan recently said 'Auf Wiedersehen' to America, signing a contract to play quarterback for the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League.

Sullivan came to USC on a baseball scholarship, but walked on to the football team in 2012 and served as a placeholder in 2014 before earning a scholarship for the 2015 season. The Orange, CA native also competed on USC's track & field team during the 2015 season.

In Stuttgart, which is about 140 miles from Munich, Sullivan is one of five Americans on the roster.

Follow Sullivan on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to stay up-to-date on his international experience.


Start Your Streak: Joe Essy

Written by Rachel Frain, USC blog contributor

When it comes to dedication, Joe Essy can compete with any Trojan fan. In 1967, Joe bought his first season ticket to USC football after buying individual games from friends for so long.

"I was a young guy back then and I had to scrape enough money together to even get the tickets," said Essy.

But for Essy, his experiences at the Coliseum and on the road with the Trojans have made up for every penny. And even though Essy's witnessed the breathtaking wins, he's also stuck with the team through the losses.

"There were a lot of down seasons by Trojan standards, but we always re-upped and I always came back."

Essy's Favorite Moments:
  • "First of all, the last Rose Bowl. The Sam Darnold Rose Bowl. I mean, that was incredible and Leon McQuay making that interception making the field goal possible..."
  • "But as terrific as that game was, the game with Ohio State going for two in the '75 Rose Bowl, beating Ohio State, 18-17. When you beat Woody Hayes, it's pretty sweet."
  • "There's been so many with John McKay -- the 1969 Stanford game where Ron Ayala kicks that 34-yard field goal and we beat Stanford, 26-24. Stanford in those days was still the Indians, the Stanford players after that ball went through were laying on the field in the Coliseum, heads down, pounding their fists."

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