Three Games Left for Seniors and Hershel Dennis
Time has gone by ever so slowly, yet so very quickly. For all of USC seniors, there are just two games left to the season and a probable bowl game. For sixth-year senior, Hershel Dennis, the clock is ticking ever so quickly. Dennis' journey with the Trojans will end very soon, and with it, six long years of a college career behind him.
Hershel Dennis was part of the heralded ‘Poly Five,' a highly regarded senior class from Long Beach Poly High School that included Dennis, former Trojans; Manuel Wright, Darnell Bing, Winston Justice and former Bruin; Marcedes Lewis. This was an incredible senior class, and coincidentally, Pete Carroll's first marquee recruiting class.
When Dennis arrived at USC, the team was on its way to an incredible run. As a freshman in 2002, Dennis ran in a backfield that included Justin Fargas, Sultan McCullough and fan favorite, Sunny Byrd. On the year Dennis ran for 198 yards on 49 carries (4.0 avg.) with 1 TD, caught 4 passes for 23 yards (5.8 avg.), returned 9 kickoffs for 151 yards (16.8 avg.) and had a tackle for a loss of 34 yards (on a punt at UCLA).
In his second year at USC (2003), starting all 13 games, he rushed for 661 yards on 137 carries (4.8 avg.) with 4 TDs, plus caught 10 passes for 62 yards (6.2 avg.) with 1 TD. In his first career start, he ran for a career-best 85 yards on 21 carries at Auburn, including a second-effort 14-yard TD. Meanwhile, first year freshmen, Lendale White and Reggie Bush established themselves as viable running backs for the Trojans.
In 2004, White and Bush took over the bulk of the carrying for USC and Dennis tore ligaments in his knee prior to the Orange Bowl, ending his year. Dennis redshirted the following year(2005). In 2006, the unthinkable happened when he once again tore ligaments in his knee. Dennis was awarded a medical redshirt for 2006 and returned for a final year in 2007.
DENNIS DISCUSSES HIS CAREER
On playing for the Trojans
"I've been with the team for 5-1/2 years. Played with Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Malaefou McKenzie and Sultan McCullough and those guys. I played as a freshman, we had three senior running backs (McCullough, Justin Vargas and Sunny Byrd). I got a lot of carries the last second (of that game)."
Two years of injuries
"I was out two years. The first year I tore my ACL, MCL and PCL. I came back the next year and tore my ACL and MCL again on the same (left) knee."
With a Few Games Left…
"I've graduated already, I'm just here to establish a good season before I get out of here, trying to get a good game before I leave, with another winning season, I didn't want to leave on injured reserve, I just wanted to come back and be with the team again and help contribute, to win, to be here and just get through a season healthy again. Before I get to the next level."
Life After Football
"After football there's various things I might get into, I'm thinking of getting into the music business, and coaching at my high school (Long Beach Poly High), and there's a lot of things I want to do, I'm just taking it a day at a time, see what my future holds for me."
Thoughts on Being on the Bench
"It's hard when you are one of the last backs, you have to keep a positive mindset and stay ready, because your number could be called at any time. You just have to stay ready, keep your body healthy and be ready to go when they call your number."
HERSHEL'S MOTHER, ‘ROSIE' CHIMES IN
From Banning High School to Poly High
"I pulled him out from Banning High School and told him, You're going to (Long Beach) Poly High School, you're going to go to high school here at Poly, and you'll play football here at Poly."
"They won every game when he attended Poly. After freshman year they moved him up to varsity. And they never lost a game and won all CIF games."
Deciding on USC
"We traveled to the different universities to decide where he wanted to go. He said, mom, remember you said whatever decision I make you will support me? He said, 'I decided to go to Oregon'. I told him, 'oh no…you're going to USC,' I started crying. The next day, signing day…he asked me to take him to Poly."
"When Hershel's turn came up (to announce his college choice), he wouldn't say right away, he stared at me, then after a long while he said, ‘I'm going to USC,' I just cried."
"I am happy everyday, always happy to see him every day. I'm happy to see him running. I always told him I wanted to see him graduate. He graduated May 11, with a bachelor's in Sociology. Now he is studying for a master's degree."
"I think he will (remain) focused on this year, I see him interested in this year, each game, there's two games left and a bowl game. His goal and his dream is to go to the pros."
Hershel's Thanks to His Trojan Fans
"I appreciate all the support they give me, I love them, I know they're waiting for me to get in there, I'm also waiting, when I get in there, I'm running the ball for them, all the support that they give me and all of the love I get. Even though I haven't been playing, they're still there to keep cheering me on, I love them for that. Tell them to keep on supporting me and hopefully my time will come soon."