Big number for USC grid grads

35 football Trojans from 2001 through 2015 teams get their degrees this week.

You want a big number for a USC football program that hasn't had all that many of them in the last three years?

How about this number for this second week of May -- 35.

Yep, the program that the NCAA whittled down to as few as 44 originally recruited scholarship players for a bowl game a year ago in Las Vegas will celebrate 35 football players getting their degrees Thursday at the Athletes Graduation at 2 p.m. at Galen Center.

How cool is that.

And that's just the number. Wait until you check out the names.

There are old favorites back from their NFL careers. And next year's stalwarts. There's a Heisman candidate in there.

There are majors in Theatre; Religion; American Studies; Political Science; Policy, Planning and Development; Environmental Studies; Business Administration; Communication and that old standby, Sociology.

There are at least 13 here who could be starters next fall. And five more who started last fall as well.

There are six trying to make their way into the NFL for the first time either as draftees or free agents -- Buck Allen, Gerald Bowman, Andre Heidari, Hayes Pullard, J.R. Tavai and Aundrey Walker.

There's an All-American and two-time national champ, one of the foundational players in the Pete Carroll Era, back getting his degree 14 years after his arrival at USC after eight years in the NFL -- Shaun Cody.

There are a number of favorites like that, each of whom we remember fondly for one special moment or maybe just their entire Trojan careers. We're talking Dominique Byrd, who saved USC in the fog at Oregon State and helped devastate Oklahoma in a national championship game and who, after three years in the NFL, hasn't given up his dream.

Or how about Patrick Turner, who turned down the whole state of Tennessee to become a graceful four-year Trojan letterman before four years with Miami and the Jets.

Or Chauncey Washington who got his five years in with Jacksonville, Dallas, the Jets and St. Louis but whose dream is to get a career going in TV production and is often around for USC working games for the Pac-12 Networks.

But it's not all history here, not by a longshot. Cody Kessler and Curtis Madden III (Tre) wil get their diplomas. As will tackle Zach Banner, who could have two more years in Cardinal and Gold should he choose to.

Almost everybody on the defensive front will be degreed -- Antwaun Woods, Delvon Simmons, Claude Pelon, Cody Temple and Greg Townsend Jr. And right behind them, Lamar Dawson and Anthony Sarao. And behind those two, Kevon Seymour. All with their degrees going into the fall.

And then there are the special teams guys and more -- Soma Vainuku, Kris Albarado and Conner Sullivan.

And some will be degreed whose careers maybe didn't exactly go as they'd hoped, Peter McBride, Cyrus Hobbi and Charles Burks, with Charles moving on for a final year playing somewhere else.

And Christian Thomas. How good could he have been without all those injuries? And also from a couple of years back, De'Von Flournoy. But over the past four years, every body -- literally -- counted for everything they did here.

Which is where so many walkons come in, who we only designate that way because it shows the kind of extra-special dedication that kept this program going. We're talking Erick Jepsen, Anthony Neyer, David Mellstrom and Chris Willson, all with their degrees.

Then there's John Martinez, back for a second shot at this, or at least listed for his second spring although he's now a TD-scoring 305-pound fullback for Portland in the Arena League on his way to China for an inaugural arena season there.

And Curtis McNeal, forever a USC favorite for pounding Notre Dame in South Bend in 2011 and doing the same to UCLA later.

So many good memories. And some not so. So many special moments. So many good kids. So much more to come.

But all with their USC degrees.

A very good time for Trojan football this week.

Here they are:

Kris Albarado

Policy, Planning and Development

Javorius Allen

Sociology

Zach Banner

Communication

Gerald Bowman

Communication

Charles Burks

Political Science

Dominique Byrd

American Studies and Ethnicity/African American Studies

Shaun Cody

Sociology

Lamar Dawson

Sociology

De’Von Flournoy

Communication

Andre Heidari

Sociology

Cyrus Hobbi

Theatre

Erick Marquise Jepsen

Sociology

Cody Kessler

Sociology

Curtis Madden III

Communication

John Martinez

Sociology

Peter McBride

Environmental Studies

Curtis McNeal

Sociology

David Mellstrom

Business Administration

Anthony Neyer

Communication/Organizational Leadership & Management (Minor)

Claude Pelon

Sociology

Hayes Pullard

Policy, Planning and Development

Anthony Sarao

Policy, Planning and Development

Kevon Seymour

Communication/Sociology (Minor)

Delvon Simmons

Sociology

Conner Sullivan

Business Administration

JR Tavai

Sociology

Cody Temple

Sociology/Occupational Therapy (Minor)

Christian Thomas

Communication

Greg E. Townsend

Political Science

Patrick Turner

Sociology

Soma Vainuku

Sociology

Aundrey Walker

Sociology

Chauncey Washington

Sociology

Chris Willson

Religion

Antwaun Woods

Sociology

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


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