Cassel and Cody speak to WeAreSC dinner

Matt Cassel and Shaun Cody, former Trojan football stars now playing in the NFL, were the guest speakers tonight at the WeAreSC dinner at the Papadakis Taverna. Click below to hear comments from the event:

Matt Cassel was introduced and he immediately displayed his self-deprecating sense of humor and ease with the crowd as he discussed his playing career at USC. When he was presented with an action figurine of him in a throwing motion he joked that it must have been hard to find a photo of one of his 33 passes in a Trojan uniform. He later talked about the bowl loss to Utah "that was a real barnburner in Vegas to lose 10-6 but we had a good time at the MGM that night".

Someone mentioned that his story must be one that can help recruiting, to show that a player doesn't need to be afraid of competition, and Cassel agreed. He talked about how he believed in himself even when most others assumed he was done playing football after college. Matt said some players, such as Matt Leinart or Reggie Bush, don't need to worry about making a big impression at Pro Day because they have 3 years of film for scouts to evaluate but for Cassel it was critical to go out that day and perform well because the scouts hadn't seen a lot of him.

John Papadakis got up to speak and he said Cassel is where he is at today because of what he has to offer. John cited Matt's willingness to play tight end at USC as an example of his team-first nature and he added "he's also a lovable son of a bitch. His humanity is what makes him a great leader".

Someone in the crowd asked Matt to compare Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick, Matt said they are completely different. Carroll is a communicator with an open door policy and he keeps things positive. Belichick has a closed door policy and if you mess up he will let you know about it in front of everybody. Cassel was also quick to add that from a football standpoint, Belichick is amazing.

One of the final questions began with someone asking a play that was "maybe the biggest play of your career, the onside..." and Cassel rolled his eyes and laughed "the onside kick against UCLA? That wasn't very memorable but I guess it's kind of my career right there. I was out there thinking there was no way they were going to kick it to me but, sure enough, the ball came my way and it was instinctual just to grab it. That was a nice feeling in the locker room after the game to have actually done something to contribute to a win".

Cassel then introduced Cody, who he is living with this off-season (along with Lofa Tatupu) before they go back to their respective teams later this month, and Cody told the crowd to "cherish what you have here tonight. There is so much love in this room, you don't get this in the NFL. To come back and feel this love is really special, even though my story isn't as good as Cassel's". To which Matt replied "all you have to do is tell them you played".

Papadakis once again stood up and talked to the crowd, this time about Cody. John talked about Shaun's recruiting visit to the Taverna where his dad (a well-known Notre Dame fan at the time) came in wearing a green jacket. John said "the mom was this sweet Latina and the dad looked like an Irish terrorist. It took 18 belly dancers to soften him up". John also called Shaun "the foundation of USC's recent success".

Cody talked about the transition to the NFL "it's tough, a year ago I was playing on a national title team and now we're struggling in Detroit. You guys don't understand how cold Detroit is either. I'm a weather guy and it's so cold there". Cody said Cassel "took me under his wings" when he first came in as a freshman and he also talked about how Coach Orgeron stayed with him throughout the recruiting process and the coaching change from Hackett to Carroll. Shaun also said he has been working out with the Trojan team in recent weeks and he said "you guys have something special to look forward to. The team looks great." He specifically singled out Fred Davis "he's a monster".

Someone asked about Mike Williams and Shaun said "Mike had a rough rookie year. I think being basically annexed from football for a year and then trying to come back would be hard for anybody. He'll be fine though, give him time and he'll be the same Mike. He's a guy who excels in the limelight".

Shaun was asked his favorite play from his USC career and he said it was his blocked field goal attempt on the opening drive by Michigan in the Rose Bowl. He said his dad has a big photo of that play, even though Lofa says he actually pushed Shaun and that's how he made the block.

One of the final questions of the night came from our own George Young who asked Shaun if he remembered uttering the following statement "have the 27-0 shirts come in yet?" and Shaun said he did remember saying that. Shaun was with a group of other players who were hosting recruits at the Universal Citywalk and it was right after the Trojans had just defeated UCLA 27-0, they walked into a UCLA store at the CityWalk and Shaun asked the clerk if the 27-0 shirts had come in yet "they didn't know what I was talking about".


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