Notables from 7/21 Players-Only Session

Friday's players-only throwing session was packed with energy and competition from the entire team, including sparsely-seen running back Dillon Baxter.

It didn't look like the weekend was creeping up for the USC Trojans Friday morning, who came to play at Cromwell Field for one of the team's final players-only throwing sessions.

Nearly every member of the team was present for the full session, and the level of play was at an all time high this offseason.

"All summer we've been together a lot more than in recent years, like before, with the throwing sessions we're getting everybody out here [now]. But I felt like today we were real competitive and organized," wide receiver Kyle Prater said.

Friday's showing comes on the heels of a bare Tuesday players-only throwing session, the day after tailback Marc Tyler's suspension was announced. One familiar face that made his presence known was fellow back Dillon Baxter. Baxter has been absent from these sessions the past two weeks after getting stitches in his finger from letting go of a heavy dumbbell too soon.

Baxter noted that running backs at USC always get a lot of ‘attention.'

"You kind of just got to roll with the punches, really, whatever comes comes," he said. "Marc did his little thing and I've done my thing in the past but all you can really do is move forward you can't really be upset and let the media bring you down and have a bad season next year."

A few notable plays from Friday included three straight touchdown passes. The first was a great grab by Prater, who was wide open. Defensive backs Nickell Robey and Marshall Jones just looked sheepishly at each other after the pass was caught. Second was an inspiring left-handed grab over Brice Butler's shoulder, which knocked cornerback Anthony Brown down and took him a minute to compose himself. And on the third play, Prater landed inches from the right boundary of the endzone, easily getting ahead of safety T.J. McDonald and cornerback Robey.

Some standout defensive plays included huge pressure from ends Devon Kennard, Kevin Greene and tackle George Uko. In an ordinary setting, the plays would have resulted in Barkley being sacked. On a short pass from Barkley, end Nick Perry looked like the Hulk when he stood up and stuck his left hand out to swat the ball away.

A few teachers emerged today in offensive linemen Khaled Holmes who talked with incoming Crenshaw High product Marcus Martin throughout the morning. Prater said he too has been talking with freshman receiver Victor Blackwell, of Mater Dei. "Victor Blackwell, he's still getting the plays down but I like the character and work ethic," Prater said. Barkley was all smiles today, presumably proud of the energy level the guys displayed. He, Martin Coleman and Cyrus Hobbi were cracking jokes with signs, although Coleman looked more like he was doing the Macarena.

At the end of the day, cornerback Anthony Brown's speed is not up for debate--he once again won in a race.

"I race everybody and beat them so yeah I'm considered fastest," he said.

He attributes his increasing speed to the strength and conditioning coaches' "power clean" regimen.

"The strength coaches said it's the foundation of what you do so you do good in that and you'll be faster," Brown said.

Baxter also said he's improved his speed, reporting that he ran a 4.6 40-yard dash about three weeks ago, better than his previously recorded 40-time of 4.8 seconds.

Despite all the attention the "RBU" receives, Baxter hopes this year will be one of focus for the running backs. He said he learned that the hard way last year.

"I had distractions everywhere coming out of high school and still trying to do my thing, sneaking out, being a freshman," he said. You just [have to] look in yourself. As soon as you enter college it's kind of a check. Everyone is good and the media is all on you so you feel all this pressure and you kind of just have to believe in yourself and don't let anybody stop you."


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