Alum Strengthen Trojan Ties

Trojan alum like Patrick Turner and Damian Williams remind current players what to expect and push them to work harder.

At the Trojans' scrimmage last weekend, the enormous video board that captivates and envelopes Coliseum attendees flashed the "top 10 college football factories."

At both of the team's midweek practices, two NFL receivers and Trojan alum -- Patrick Turner and Damian Williams -- worked out with their successors at Howard Jones Field.

Whether under a massive crowd or one restricted to friends and family, USC's NFL connection is palpable. You can see it smothered in every nook and cranny of the new John McKay Center, from the Mark Sanchez-donated quarterbacks room to the walls that will soon display life-sized images and videos of current professionals.

But when those NFL players are inches away, running routes with you or giving you advice, the years of experience and mounds of money that separate them aren't as noticeable.

Because they, too, were there.

And they, too, keep up with their former team. Root for them.

Williams likes the new coaching staff under Kiffin, and believes they can be national contenders once again.

"Most definitely. I think Kiffin has got a good plan in place. Obviously they've got the talent to do so.

"Got to have a little bit of luck to fight your way, too."

Turner believes the players are better than when he was that age, citing freshman Marqise Lee's performance in 2011.

"I think he's an excellent receiver. The sky is the limit for a kid like that with those types of abilities and talent With coaching, he should do big things. He was showing a lot of flashes last year along with Barkley. I know Coach Kiffin definitely would like to use him along with Woods."

"I don't know what they're eating, but it's something different. They make them a little different," Turner joked.

"I wasn't [that good]," Williams chimed in. "Not at all."

Maybe not then, but they are now. And now, these young players can look to their elders for tips, advice and motivation. Now, players like Turner or Williams can help pass the torch to their Trojan brethren and show them the possibilities.

"I think they look good. I think they have a lot of talent out there. I was impressed with what I saw," Turner said. "It's always good coming out here and seeing the guys and always brings back memories and just reminiscing."

Turner talked about former Florida quarterback and rival Tim Tebow joining his Jets in New York. And Williams talked about housing his current quarterback -- former Washington rival Jake Locker -- in Nashville before Titans opened camp.

At the next level, the competition soon become their teammates.

But at USC, no matter when one played or where he ends up, those Trojan ties will always remain.

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