Gerard Martinez |

And so it starts

We'll call it "information overload" and stick with that description of USC's opening pratice Thursday for Fall Camp. Lots going on here with lots of players and coaches to keep up with in a fast-paced, extremely competitive evening featuring highlight runs by Justin Davis (above).

They'd been going two hours and 35 minutes when the three horns sounded Thursday. And then after a quick huddle, USC's Trojans started over. Well, for another 10 to 15 minutes of extra position work.

This is a team that clearly likes to work coming off a summer as demanding as any anyone around here can remember.

"An amazing effort," said Zach Banner, 42 pounds lighter then when he finished the 2015 season at 387 pounds down to his current 345, in describing the Trojans' opening Fall Camp work in helmets, shorts and jerseys.

Although he credited the defense for an even more amazing effort. "They stepped up, they kicked our [butt]," Zach said of Clancy Pendergast's flying-around folks. "They got after it."

They did indeed, but so did Max Browne, with a couple of late touchdown throws in the final 11 on 11. As did senior Justin Davis, with three big runs, two for TDs, in what he says he knows is his final season. "I realized that when people were saying I could turn professional last year, which was crazy. But that made me realize I have a very small time here."

Nothing small-time about Davis, who admits he is still growing. He's a bit over 200 pounds now and almost 6-1 -- "six-one-ish," he says. "This is the most optimistic I've been since I've been here. This was a totally different summer camp. I won't say those others were disorganized but this is just more professional the way it's run."   

It's a theme. Clay Helton gushed over the work not only of Ivan Lewis, the strength and conditioning director, but newcomer, Torre Becton, down from Washington. And then there were the plaudits for trainer Russ Romano and Dr. John Meyer, director of sports performance, for the way they rehabbed Cameron Smith and Toa Lobendahn from their ACL surgeries to full recovery, although each is on a play count for now.

"This felt different from the spring," Clay said, nodding at "Adoree' " and "Stevie" and "Josh Fatu," and the rehab guys and the freshmen. Reminded him, he said, of that 2011 USC team with a full roster before the sanctions hit that finished 10-2.

Noted "how much faster the defense is playing," a comment echoed by Browne, who when asked about getting ready for Alabama, had this response. "I've got to go out and worry about beating Clancy P. before worrying about Nick Saban." He also has "to win the job first," Max said after a practice where he thought "I did well" on a day "I can build on" with the TD passes and no turnovers.

"They both played well," Clay said, "they both played at a high level."

Sam Darnold agreed. Said he wasn't surprised there's a competition for the job that will be decided the Saturday after Salute To Troy, Clay said. "I expect the best of myself. I'm not surprised how well I did." And so it goes.

Gerard Martinez |

 "That was a good first day," Zach said. "We stepped it up. When you have physical athletes like we do, we have to come out like that. We've been really taking care of our bodies."

"I know I'm in the best shape of my life," Justin Davis said. "And that gives you a mind set of confidence."

Asked to explain what exactly this team's "All about ball," theme entailed, Clay said it was simple. First and foremost, "focusing on technique and fundamentals." Then it's "trusting your brother," he said, and then "confidence in that brotherhood." But above all, it's technique and fundamentals." Nothing matters more.

Which is why Clay said he's glad "we have 28 more practices." And for those worried about no two-a-days, they'll have them -- starting next Wednesday after a day off following the first day in pads Monday. There will be one more helmets, shorts and jerseys practice, two in shells/shoulder pads, shorts and helmets and on the fifth day Monday, full pads.

And Clay, who spends weeknights in his office on his couch, falling asleep watching film, will be there the whole way, he says. "It's like Christmas Day," Clay says, and today he was that "eight-year-old who can't wait to open his presents."

And as big a deal as the Alabama opener against the defending national champs will be, this day was all about USC. And these guys know it. They can't do anything about Bama. But what they do about themselves, that's what matters now. And they know it.  

Media guide/roster updates

Updates to the USC roster in the 2016 USC football media guide:


Keyshawn Young is now #83

Ajene Harris is now #6

Jamel Cook is now #21

Reuben Peters is now #47

Jordan Iosefa is now #56

PRONUNCIATION CHANGE:  Cary Angeline’s last name is pronounced ANN-juh-line

ADD 6 NEW PLAYERS (2 scholarship, 4 walk-ons):

No.       Name                                         Pos.          Hgt.       Wgt.      Birthday      Cl.(Ath/Ac)    Exp.   Hometown(HighSchool/JC/College)

49         BROWN, Michael                     PK             6-2         195        12/23/97      Fr./Fr.              --             Temecula (Linfield Christian)

38         EDMONDSON, Chris              TB             5-11       210        3/5/98           Fr./Fr.              --             Cibolo, TX (Clemens)

52         HERRERA, Christian               ILB            6-1         210        7/15/94        Jr.*/Sr.            JC           Manhattan Beach (Serra/Harbor JC/El Camino JC)

79         ROSSOW, Connor                   DT             6-2         305        4/23/98        Fr./Fr.              --             Tustin (Mater Dei)

16         THOMAS, Holden                    QB             6-5         195        6/20/97        Fr./Fr.              --             Pacific Palisades (Brentwood)

96         TU’IKOLOVATU, Stevie          DT             6-1         320        6/28/91        Sr.*/Sr.            TR           Salt Lake City, UT (East/Utah)


2016:  Brown will compete for the placekicking job as a first-year freshman in 2016.  He was awarded a scholarship at USC by virtue of an NCAA rule known as “blueshirting” (it allows a non-recruited student-athlete to receive athletic financial aid after beginning practice and have that student-athlete count towards the next year’s signing class if the school has reached its NCAA-maximum aid limit for the current year).  HIGH SCHOOL:  He was 2015 Cal-Hi Sports All-State Small Schools first team, Max Preps All-State Small Schools first team and All-CIF Northwest Division as a senior placekicker, punter and defensive back at Linfield Christian High in Temecula (Calif.).  He made 9-of-13 field goals (with a long of 57 yards) and 66-of-70 PATs, had touchbacks on 62 of 68 kickoffs and averaged 41.7 yards punting (with a long of 55 yards) as a senior.  As a junior in 2014, he made Max Preps All-State Division IV second team and All-CIF Northwest Division while hitting 10-of-14 field goals and 36-of-37 PATs, had touchbacks on 41 of 50 kickoffs and averaged 37.3 yards on 30 punts (with a long of 54 yards), plus he had 3 interceptions on defense.  As a 2013 sophomore, he made 2-of-6 field goals (including a 53-yarder) and 30-of-32 PATs and had touchbacks on 24 of 33 kickoffs, plus he had 14 tackles on defense.  As a freshman in 2012, he hit 4-of-5 field goals and 22-of-23 PATs, plus on defense he had 20 tackles, 6 deflections and 2 interceptions.  He also played baseball and soccer at Linfield Christian.


2016:  Edmondson will serve as a reserve tailback as a walk-on first-year freshman in 2016.  HIGH SCHOOL:  He prepped at Clemens High in Schertz (Tex.), where he played outside linebacker as a 2015 senior and running back as a 2014 junior.


2016:  Herrera will serve as a reserve inside linebacker as a walk-on junior in 2016.  JUNIOR COLLEGE:  He redshirted in 2015 at El Camino Junior College in Torrance (Calif.).  He made 10 tackles (1.5 for losses) as a 2014 sophomore linebacker at El Camino JC.  He had 7 tackles (with a sack) as a 2013 freshman linebacker at Los Angeles Harbor Junior College in Wilmington (Calif.).  HIGH SCHOOL:  He played linebacker and tight end at Serra High in Gardena (Calif.), where he had 50 tackles and 2 deflections as a 2012 senior co-captain.  He had 29 tackles (with a sack) and 2 deflections as a 2011 junior.  He had 4 tackles and a deflection as a 2010 sophomore.  Current Trojans Adoree’ Jackson, Olajuwon Tucker, Jalen Greene, Jalen Jones, Rasheem Green, John Houston Jr., Deontay Burnett, Oluwole Betiku Jr. and C.J. Pollard also prepped at Serra.


2016:  Rossow will serve as a reserve defensive tackle as a walk-on first-year freshman in 2016.  HIGH SCHOOL:  He had 32 tackles, including 4.5 sacks, plus 2 deflections and a fumble recovery as a 2015 senior defensive lineman at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana (Calif.).  Current Trojans Jonathan Lockett, Grant Moore and Frank Martin II also prepped at Mater Dei.


2016:  Thomas will serve as a reserve quarterback as a walk-on first-year freshman in 2016.  HIGH SCHOOL:  He completed 214-of-385 passes (55.6%) for 3,107 yards with 36 TDs and 9 interceptions (he also ran for 3 scores) as a 2015 senior quarterback at Brentwood School in Los Angeles (Calif.).  He spent his first 3 years (2012-14) of high school at Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village (Calif.).  As a 2014 junior, he started the first half of the year and hit 51-of-86 passes (59.3%) of his passes for 477 yards with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions (he set school records for most pass completions, 29, and attempts, 46, in a game).  PERSONAL:  He has 2 siblings who have attended USC.


2016:  Tu’ikolovatu, who transferred to USC in the fall of 2016 after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Utah (allowing him to be eligible to play in 2016), will compete for key playing time at defensive tackle as a senior in 2016.  He was awarded a scholarship at USC by virtue of an NCAA rule known as “blueshirting” (it allows a non-recruited student-athlete to receive athletic financial aid after beginning practice and have that student-athlete count towards the next year’s signing class if the school has reached its NCAA-maximum aid limit for the current year).  UTAH:  As a junior defensive lineman at Utah in 2015 while appearing in all 13 games (starting twice), he had 28 tackles, with 6 for losses of 19 yards (including 2 sacks for minus 14 yards), plus a Pac-12-leading 4 fumble recoveries (tied for second nationally), including a 37-yard TD return, and 2 deflections (he had 4 tackles with a sack against USC).  As a 2014 sophomore, he had 8 tackles (1 for a loss of 1 yard) while appearing in 12 games.  He missed the 2013 season with a foot injury as a redshirt freshman.  He went on a Mormon mission to the Philippines during the 2010-12 seasons after redshirting in 2009 at Utah as a first-year freshman.  HIGH SCHOOL:  He was a 2-way lineman as a 2008 senior at East High in Salt Lake City (Utah).  He also was on East’s track team.  PERSONAL:  He received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Utah in 2016 (making him eligible to play at USC in 2016).  His uncle is former Utah (2001-04) defensive lineman Sione Pouha, who played with the New York Jets (2005-12) and was a student assistant coach at Utah in 2015.  He is married and his wife is from Southern California.  His last name is pronounced TOO-ee-koe-loe-VAH-too.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at

Not a member? Sign up now and you'll get a seven day FREE trial! Join the Peristyle Family and get all the great information from USC football practices, Trojan football games, access to the Peristyle and all of the premium recruiting updates on! Become a member today!

#USCFallCamp16 Top Stories