Trojan Flashback Camp opens

The Trojan Flashback Fantasy Camp got underway today as USC fans gathered on campus to take part in the camp experience with former Trojan football greats. The campers will go through a variety of practices, a scrimmage at the Coliseum and a traditional USC dinner at Papadakis Taverna. Click below for a recap of Day One:

The opening day of the Trojan Flashback Fantasy camp featured the USC coaches and several former players putting the campers through a combine type workout that included ht/wt measurement, 40 yard dash and vertical leap testing. The campers also went through bag drills and warm-up exercises before ending the day on the field with a game of "Trojanball". Tonight a draft will be held where the campers will be divided into six teams and that will be followed by two practices tomorrow and a "Trojanball" scrimmage at the Coliseum on Saturday morning.

The campers checked in at 2:00pm in the Varsity Lounge at Heritage Hall and mingled for an hour while everyone got registered. A lot of early introductions were made in that time among the campers and after a while some of the former players such as Ronnie Lott, Sam Cunningham and Rod Martin started to enter the room. Finally Ed Orgeron came in and told everyone that the meeting was getting ready to start in three minutes across the hall and it wasn't good enough to be on time, you had to be early. Fifty grown men quickly jumped to their feet and hustled over to the football meeting room, which is a large auditorium style room, and listened as Director of Football Operations Mark Jackson explained what was going to happen during the camp. The campers were told that they were going to be treated as incoming freshman going through the orientation process for USC football. He laid out the plans for the testing process and got a big laugh when he told the campers they were going to be measured in the vertical leap. Jackson then introduced Pete Carroll to a room full of applause.

Carroll began by talking about the USC philosophy and what it means to play Trojan football. He said there is "one way to win a title, the Trojan way" and he talked about the importance of competition "we want to build great competitors". Carroll said that when you see a Trojan football player in action he will play with effort, he will play with enthusiasm and he will play smart. Most of all, he drove home the fact that it is all about the ball. Carroll preaches to his offensive players the need to protect it and with his defense he asks them to take a shot at it every chance they have. In his first year the Trojans had a turnover ratio of +13, in his 2nd year it was +18 and last year it was +21. A key element of "all about the ball" is the saying "high and tight". Trojan football players are taught to carry the ball "high and tight" and the campers were told that "high and tight" is a saying that is used throughout a USC practice so they should get used to hearing it.

Carroll also went around the room and asked each of the former players to introduce themselves and talk about their career at USC. The first to speak was Bob Jensen, a linebacker who played in 68-69 and was the captain of the 69 team. Ronnie Lott was next and he spoke of playing on one of the best teams in USC history. Rod Martin followed Ronnie and said that he played on the best team in USC history. Rod also said he played for both McKay and Robinson but he would love to play for Carroll. John Jackson was next and he said he played on the best team in USC history not to win a national title. John Vella talked of coming in as a freshman and having to line up against the Wild Bunch "I was just playing against Chaminade and now I have to block these guys?". Marlin McKeever reminded the other players that he played in the day when players went both ways. Sam Cunningham was the final player to be introduced.

Carroll then introduced Ed Orgeron and things got loud in a hurry. Orgeron came in through a side door with his shirt off and bellowed at the campers "what's the first thing you do in a fight? You take your shirt off" and the campers quickly shed their shirts. Orgeron then started a chant with one half of the room shouting "SC" and the other responding with "Wild Bunch" and it didn't take long for the room to explode with whoops and hollers as the campers began to understand the fiery nature of the Trojan coaches.

Tim Davis was next to speak and he talked to the campers as if they were players and reminded them that "nothing is free". Davis said "you got a big target on you" and he talked about the people who will want to take care of you because you are a USC football player. "You can't do that," Davis said and he added that it was important for the players to not only look out for themselves but for their teammates.

Carroll then got ready to introduce Ronnie Lott and he referred to a quote he had made in a book about the top players in the NFL where he said "nobody in history hit harder". Ronnie got a standing ovation as he made his way to the front of the room with a box in his hand. When the applause died down he opened the box and revealed his nine championship rings which he then passed around the room. He talked about the other men in the room who had played for SC and how much he respected them. He said every time you walk on that practice field you need to give respect. He said the only way to get respect is to earn it. He talked about how important it was to get respect and give it every chance you have. Ronnie said "some people are afraid of greatness, you need to make the decision to earn it, that's what competition is about". He talked about how good it felt to compete. He turned to Carroll and said "is it good Pete?". Carroll said "it's awesome" and Ronnie said "he gets it".

After Lott finished his speech the campers were sent back to the Varsity Lounge for photos and then to the patio of Heritage Hall for height and weight measurements. Once those were completed everyone headed to Howard Jones Field, making sure to tap the sign upon entry and say "I'm In" as instructed by the coaches, and went through a warm-up session conducted by Chris Carlisle. The 40 and vertical testing followed that with Richard Flores getting the top 40 (5.07) and Danny Bragg posting the top vertical (32").

A bag drill was followed by "Pat and Go", a passing drill which Norm Chow got started by explaing to the campers the proper way to catch a football. He said it's important to watch the spin finish and then hold the ball high and tight.

The day ended with a 20 minute game of "Trojanball" and Trojanball commissioner Lane Kiffin explained the rules to the campers. You can throw backwards or forwards in "Trojanball". The ball is dead when it hits the ground and then the ball is placed at the spot of the throw. It's one hand touch for a tackle. Once the "Trojanball" games got started Pete Carroll and the former players, as well as camp team owners, headed to the top of the Dedeaux Field roof to get a good view for scouting the campers. Rod Martin and John Jackson were two of the more thorough scouts as they were scribbling a lot of notes on the players in anticipation of the draft tonight.


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