Greg Farr: Exit Interview

WeAreSC will conduct a series of interviews with Trojan seniors to get their thoughts on a wide variety of subjects relating to their experiences at USC. In this edition we feature safety Greg Farr.

We're here with USC Safety Greg Farr, and first Greg, congratulations on winning the National Championship this past season.
Thank you, thanks a lot.

You've had quite the road to get to where you were at this past season, a scholarship safety for USC, for the fans who don't know, can you tell us the story of how you got to USC from high school?
It's a really long story, but definitely, I can....

In high school, I had the same work ethic going and I was one of the better players. The coaches would tell me I had a lot of potential and things like that. My sophomore year came around and just on one night, a high school late night escapade thing, I was messing around with some friends, we were hanging around the high school that night… We etched on some windows, not filthy words or anything, just writing. And I didn't think anything of it, but I found out, actually a month later, which was actually on my mom's birthday, and on Homecoming, and this was the first game I was actually starting both ways this season, it was a big day for me; we were all brought into this office and all got caught for vandalism. The bad part about that was that my coach was the school police officer and he told me three weeks before that that they were going to put me on varsity as a sophomore and hopefully I would play and do well there, you know because a lot of times the big-time guys will do that and I was really excited. It would have been a stepping stone. Anyways, so that happened, when he brought me in his office, he said "You did this?" and I told him "Yeah…" but I told him I felt really bad and I was sorry. And he said "You can forget about what I told you…you're never going to play here again." I tried to redeem myself to him, went as far as becoming the class president. I was trying to prove to him that I wasn't a bad kid and that it was just a one time thing.

Basically, from my sophomore year on…I started one game in high school and so that's the reason that I wasn't recruited or anything out of high school, wasn't looked at by any schools, even small schools. My parents had to help me try and do recruiting and it just didn't really go anywhere that I was interested in, because I always wanted to come here.

Then I went to junior college because I wasn't done. A lot of my friends were saying, "Screw it, we'll go do something else." We had a lot of guys go on to big schools, so I felt kind of left out of the bunch. I really wanted to do it, so I went to junior college at Palomar in San Diego. So my first year I got there, they hadn't really heard of me. It was kind of the same situation as when I came here because it was kind of like being a walk-on. They didn't recruit me, they recruit at junior college too, but they didn't know who I was. And I kind of shocked them a little bit and kind of made my presence known. I did pretty well for the first year I played. I played a lot of nickel back, I was the starter at nickel and I started I think two games as a safety. So the next year, I trained really hard in the off-season. They had all these preseason accolades for me…I ended up leading my team in tackles, actually had nine interceptions that year, but they called six of them back *laughs*, which was really bad. From that, I was all-conference, an academic All-American, I had made kind of a name for myself out there. So I was getting recruited by schools like Colorado State, San Diego State, Indiana, and Rutgers, but those just weren't schools that I wanted to go to. The best offer was Colorado State and obviously here was where I wanted to go, so here I am.

Was there anything in particular that made you want to come to USC over all the other scholarship offers you had out on the table?
Yeah…ever since I was a little kid, I think I was about four, maybe five, I have three older brothers and two of them started playing Pop Warner football and I remember that ever since I, you know you always want to be like your older brothers, saw them out there and was like, "I gotta do that." And basically everything they did, I wanted to do. I remember my brother Chris, he really loved USC for whatever reason. I didn't even know what it was at the time. I think I was three or four, somewhere in there. He'd always be sitting there watching the game, so I'd sit down and watch it with him. And ever since then, I kind of grew up loving USC. It was really funny because I would be the only one rooting for USC. All my friends were UCLA fans, which was funny because three out of the seven guys [I was closest to] went to UCLA…But definitely the main reason I wanted to come here was because I was a Trojan since I was a little kid.

What other positions did you play on the high school football field?
I played tailback, a little bit of slot receiver, a little bit of outside ‘Sam' linebacker, that's about it.

Did you play any other sports in high school?
I ran track and…I did baseball for a Spring, but once I got to high school I was really just ‘Gung-Ho' on the whole football thing and I knew track would help me get there so the events I did in track were long jump, triple jump, I did the 100m, and that's pretty much it. I just really wanted to focus on football so I kind of ended up dropping the other sports.

Did you come to USC knowing already that you would be a walk-on player, or did you go through a tryout?
I was a recruited Walk-On, which is what I guess they call it. That was a tough decision for me because either I could go there and get paid, or come here and don't, you know? But there were plusses and minuses on both sides. Those places were faraway and whatnot. I did know that I was coming here as a Walk-On and that I would be on the team and be given a shot. Basically, what they told me was "We really love what we see…and you have a great shot to earn a scholarship," within the next year or something close to that and I bought into it.

All along, was earning a scholarship a goal in the back of your mind while you were working hard during service team or individual drills?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, even if they don't say it or however it comes out, guys who are not on scholarship feel inferior in some way, shape or form, at least I sure did. It wasn't so much the fact that I had a scholarship, for me, it was more that people knew the fact that I could play. People knew that I was capable of doing the same things they are…so it was more a respect issue for me that was always in my mind…I'm kind of an "I'll prove it to you" type guy, I guess. But definitely, I wanted to get paid because lightens the burden on my shoulders. Basically, there's a financial aspect and I didn't want my parents to have to pay for it really, because once those loans start piling up, you've got to split them and they're going to be half my costs and half their costs and now, what do you do? I definitely wanted that for them and they wanted it for me, so it was kind of a major thing, but I definitely wanted it throughout the whole time.

What did it mean to you to be rewarded with a scholarship for this season?
It was definitely gratifying. I felt like I earned it. You know, it took a while, but at this level, the competition is always high and there are kids all over the country that want to come to this school. Coming in here, the year I came, USC had just lost the Las Vegas Bowl and like I said, I didn't care. I wanted to play for this team. I didn't know how easy or hard it was going to be so I came and I gave it my best shot. Turns out we ended up getting better and better and here we are now. Getting that scholarship, you know, it feels good.

You got some significant playing time at Safety last season, for those fans who don't know, what other parts of the game were you involved in on game days and the practice field?
Mostly special teams, on pretty much every kickoff return that I was eligible for *laughs*. Kickoff as well, the punt return team, took a few snaps at Washington State as well on the punt team.

Even this past season, you faced adversity in terms of your eligibility, what happened and what was going through your mind after the long road you had already traveled?
Man…that's a good question…that was probably one of the toughest things that I've come to so far in my life. I mean, there's a lot worse things that can happen to a kid, don't get me wrong. I've never been one to toot my own horn, but the amount of work that I felt like I put into it…I didn't really feel like I was getting anything out of it and that was a real question, something that I had to keep from asking myself. I didn't want to ask, "Why?" Why am I not this? Or why is this happening to me? I had to just kind of let it go. My parents, my brothers, my family were just really helpful in that. They were really supportive, always saying "Don't worry about it, it'll all work out," even still they say it to me all the time. That was the biggest thing for me, at least emotionally. Because coming into the season…I was starting. Versus Virginia Tech, I was coming in as the starter because Darnell, who I was backing up, was hurt.

And this was my shot, it felt like it was my big shot and I was so happy to prove it…and even high school coaches that kind of did whatever to me throughout my high school career were calling me saying "Yeah, we heard you were going to start and you got a scholarship." So you know…I seemed to be on top of the world, but it was only about three days after I got the scholarship that I was told that I was ineligible, maybe a little more than that. Wednesday of the game week of Virginia Tech, it was a night away from when we left for Virginia Tech and I just had it snatched out from under me…It was tough.

What kept you optimistic and kept you going to get to the point you were able to reach this season?
Just the fact that I just really, really, love football. I love everything about it. And at this point in my life, I'm not done with it. And all throughout this whole ordeal, even high school, whatever, playing or not playing, it's been a long road, but every time you practice, a lot of guys don't like to practice, but I love it…It's just fun to get out there and hit people, all that stuff…to learn how to be better than the other guy and to win. It's just the competitive spirit that I feel like I have that makes me just keep going. I still don't think I'm done and that's why I'm still doing it now…Basically, I love it. I remember when I found out [about being ineligible early in the season], a lot of guys were saying, "What happened?" I just said "No…there's just no way this is over. There is no way this is it. It can't be it." There was a whole appeal process outside of any of my control and I just felt somehow that it would work out.

When people refer to USC, they refer to the idea of a Trojan family, what does that idea mean to you within the team?
Within the football team, we're all buddies and that's the best part about it. As a senior, I'm not going to be around here after a couple more months and it's probably going to be a little bit of a shellshock. The friends I've made here over the past few years…I'm never going to forget that. As far as the Trojan family itself… the team aside from the fan base, which is just so supportive and I'm happy for that, the guys I've met within the team, the people within the system and have been in the bad stuff and have been up early at six in the morning and go through the grueling things of everyday. Those are the guys that in my opinion are in the Trojan family as far as the football organization is concerned.

Who were your best friends on the team during your time at USC?
My best friends…I don't know, I try and be best friends with everybody *laughs*, just kidding. I wouldn't say I had one best friend on the team. I would say that every year, guys hang out with these guys, or guys hang out with those guys, and that's the best part about it…the Trojan family, we're all buddies. And I think that's really cool. But guys that I would at least hang out with when we had the chance would be guys like Grant Mattos when he was around, guys like Morgan Craig, Dallas [Sartz], and Forrest [Mozart], those guys. I like to mix it up and I like to hang out with other guys, like Mike Ross…Justin Wyatt, I hang out with sometimes, Terrell Thomas, a lot of the DBs, I guess you would say kind of stick together…Keith Rivers, sometimes I see him. Everyone kind of just knows where we're going to gather up at, it's not like "We're going to be best friends and that's the end of it." Hancock for sure, we've been hanging out a lot. There's tons of other guys, I just can't think of all of them on the spot *laughs*

You've obviously been through a lot and taken the road less traveled to really earn your spot on this team, what did all the perseverance teach you about yourself and how will you apply that to your future goals?
It just teaches me and hopefully would teach anyone that you only get out of it what you're going to put into it. So if you have a vision, or a focus, and you know in your heart that you can do something, you can do it, you know? A lot of people congratulate me on stuff, you know the scholarship and everything, and I appreciate it and it's awesome, it's a really gratifying experience, but it's not the end of my road I feel like. In my mind, I haven't done "it" yet, whatever "it's" going to be, I don't know. I know I'm on that path and I know I'm going to continue on that path. Basically it's just taught me, "Don't doubt yourself. Believe in what you're doing." And just don't question it, because a lot of times I did do that and a lot of times I would have to turn to someone else and they would have to say "Don't worry about it, just keep pushing" and without that, I don't know if I would have quit, a lot of times it does cross your mind, but you never do it, never give in. Really, never give up, it's easier said than done, but if you do it, you can really achieve a lot of great things.

Do you have a favorite moment from your time with USC Football?
There are more things that we do not just one time, times when we're all together, maybe in the locker room before or after a home game. I would say at home, in the locker room for sure because I never lost a game there so it was always a good experience there. Everyone was always having a good time, we always sang the fight song, before the game you could just feel the energy and people were quiet, Coach O would be walking around and then Coach Carroll runs out and says "LET'S GET IT GOING!" That's not my favorite moment I don't think, but it's just one that I'm not going to forget and I'm going to be jealous of the guys who get to keep doing that.

Can you believe how it all ended up after all that hard work?
No, I really can't. I just really can't. I still remember watching the National Championship on TV with my brothers. I remember SC was in the Rose Bowl in '96 and they were playing Northwester and I was like, "Wow, I want to know what that's like…" Little tidbits of just watching things on TV and never even fathoming that I'm coming anywhere near that and that wasn't my intention in coming here at all, I didn't even have that in my mind. My whole mindset was to come here and hopefully, be on the team, you know? Once you obtain that goal, you realize you've obtained "that," maybe you can obtain "this." I guess that's how this program, these guys, this team did it.

In the end, what does it mean to you to leave USC after winning the National Championship?
It couldn't have ended any better. As far as the team, it couldn't have ended any better. I got to dump water on the guy [Coach Carroll]. That's unbelievable. I remembered talking after the game and saying it couldn't have ended any better. We were in Miami, beautiful place to stay, all these events, a great time, and we worked our butts off and kicked ass. It ended on a great note and we got big rings coming to us and we can show those off *laughs*

What's next for Greg Farr?
Well, I'm going to take my shot at it. I don't feel like I'm done by any means and anybody who knows me would buy into that I think…I'm training down in Rancho Santa Margarita with a guy named Marv Marinovich, who really thinks outside the box and has an unconventional style of training and hopefully he'll make me a surprise in the combine coming up. If it works out, then thank God. If not, I'll keep trying, somehow it'll work out. We'll see.

Anything else you want to say to the Greg Farr fans, USC football fans, or anyone else who has helped you along the way?
First, I definitely want say something to the people who have been there along the way, thank you for all your support; I definitely would not have been able to push myself this far without them, my mom and my dad for sure, my brothers, Chris, Justin and Rick, my grandma who passed away actually. The fans, definitely, they're the ones who keep it going…My teammates for sure, thank you guys so much because that was just so much fun. Even if I do keep playing football, it won't compare to this because this…it's unmatchable, there's no way. I don't know how many different ways I can say thank you, but in the highest sense of the word, thank you.


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