USC Fall Camp: Warm Welcome For the Walk-Ons


Trojan Nation, say hello to the 19 walk-ons and one talented transfer that have joined the team this fall for another exciting season of USC Football. This group of hard-working athletes come from all over the country, and hope to help the Trojans’ prospects any way possible while living out their childhood-dreams of playing collegiate football.

While not the most glamorous position, the walk-on players have unique upbringings and plenty of interesting stories that we at Reign of Troy hope to capture throughout the 2013-2014 season.

Many of these players saw some action in the Trojans’ first Fall Camp scrimmage, most notably No. 26 James Toland who picked up four rushes for 16 yards with the third string on the hard-fought afternoon. Here are the newest additions to the team including the most peculiar, Trojan-laden or just flat-out honorable walk-on players.

14 CASSONE, Brennan WR 5-10 175 Fr./Fr. — Malibu (Malibu)

The Trojans’ two-sport athlete made 2012 Max Preps All-State Division III first team, All-CIF East Valley Division and All-Frontier League as a senior wide receiver and defensive back at Malibu (Calif.) High.  He had 100 catches for 1,707 yards (17.1 average) with 16 TDs in 2012, along with 9 carries for 87 yards (9.7 avg.) with 2 TDs. Cassone was also a star lacrosse player at Malibu High School, finishing high school with honors as one of the Malibu High School Athlete of the Year.

17 WILLSON, Chris QB 6-6 245 Jr.*/Sr. TR West Covina (St. Paul/Wake Forest)

Wilson is another dual-sport athlete who participated in spring football practice at Wake Forest before transferring. He must sit out the 2013 season because of NCAA transfer rules in both sports, eliminating any chance of helping the Trojans’ pitching staff this spring at Deadeaux Field. As a 2012 sophomore right-handed pitcher for Wake Forest, Wilson went 3-1 with a 5.40 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 28.1 innings in 12 appearances. During his high school career at St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs California, Wilson dominated the southland on the bump and at the plate (including yours truly) earning a bid to the 2009 Area Code Games.

18 LANDERS, Ted QB 6-2 215 Sr.*/Sr. JC Torrance (Serra/UCLA/Mt. San Antonio JC)

As the fifth quarterback on the USC Trojans roster, Landers certainly may hold the claim as most Trojan-worthy player, featuring quite the prestigious family lineage.  His grandfather, Bob Hooks, lettered at USC in 1951 and 1952, earning All-Conference honors in 1952 as the Trojans won the Rose Bowl (16th round pick by the Rams). He was a first-year freshman walk-on reserve quarterback at UCLA in 2009, but did not see any action before transferring to Mt. SAC in Pomona. But back in High School, Landers led South Bay powerhouse Serra as a two-year letter winning QB.

26 TOLAND, James TB 6-0 185 Fr./Fr. — Indio (Shadow Hills)

Toland is already a prime running back to bet on for the next few years at Troy, following a decent performance in the Fall Scrimmage. As a senior running back and safety at Shadow Hills High in Indio (Calif.), Toland made 2012 Cal-Hi Sports All-State Small Schools first team by rushing for 2,649 yards on 315 carries (8.4 average) with 39 TDs. In his best game of his high school career, Toland accumulated an incredible 450 yards on the ground. If that wasn’t enough, the Indio native lettered as a three-sport athlete, also participating in Track & Field and Wrestling.

30 CARRASCO, Kevin CB 6-1 180 11/11/94 Fr./Fr. — Santa Clarita (Notre Dame)

Fresh off a transfer from Canyons Junior College in Santa Clarita, Kevin Carrasco is looking to make his break back on the football field for the first time as a collegiate athlete. Back in high school, Kevin made the 2011 Cal-Hi Sports All-State fourth team and Los Angeles Daily News All-Area second team as a senior defensive back and wide receiver at Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks (Calif.). He had 45 tackles, 3 interceptions (1 for a TD), 5 deflections and 2 forced fumbles on defense.

37 LOPES, Matt S 5-11 185 Fr./Fr. — Palos Verdes Estates (Palos Verdes)

Lopes has quite a back story with the Trojans, and would love nothing more than to make an impact on and off the field like those in his Trojan bloodline. His father, Steve, is a senior associate athletic director and chief operating officer at USC who was a 1983 College Division All-American offensive lineman at Linfield College. His mother, Helaine, was an assistant athletic trainer at USC in the 1980s and 90s. His uncle, Lance Lopes, is a senior vice president and general counsel of the Seattle Seahawks (after previously holding a similar position with the Green Bay Packers). Keeping the pipeline to USC going, his sister Jen is beginning her sophomore year at USC.

40 HART, Pat FB 6-1 225 Fr./Fr. — Burridge, IL (Fenwick)

Hart made 2012 All-State and All-Chicago Catholic League Player of the Year as a senior linebacker and running back at Fenwick High in Oak Park (Ill.).  He had 123 tackles, four INT, seven deflections, and three defensive TDs on defense. Hart turned down opportunities to play at Northwestern and Wisconsin in order to arrive in Southern California to pursue football and academics.

42 YOHE, John TE 6-5 250 Sr.*/Gr. TR Fairfax, VA (Bishop O’Connell/Virginia Military Institute)

He is the team’s oldest player, and the 28-year-old formerly served as a Marine. He was deployed to Afghanistan for three years serving as a platoon commander, fire direction officer and joint terminal attack controller. During his first stint in college, Yohe was a three-sport athlete at the Virginia Military Institute and now has one year of eligibility remaining with the Trojans.

44 GUZMAN, Christian TE-SNP 6-3 220 Fr.*/So. JC Desert Hot Springs (Desert Hot Springs/Mt. San Antonio JC)

Guzman transferred to USC from Mt. San Antonio Junior College and is a reserve walk-on tight end and snapper this fall. Arriving from Mt. SAC, homes to Shane Sullivan and Ted Landers, Guzman presents a unique combination of athletic skill and academic integrity. His arrival comes as a surreal moment, given his dreams of playing D-I football his entire life. He was a 2011 Max Preps All-State Division IV second team, All-CIF East Valley Division and All-DeAnza League first team as a senior wide receiver and defensive back at Desert Hot Spring (Calif.) High, while also starring in soccer during his high school career.

48 BASALARI, Jack P 6-0 170 Fr./Fr. — Pasadena (Marantha)

Basalari averaged 44.4 yards on 18 punts and hit both of his field goal attempts as a 2012 senior punter and placekicker at Marantha High in Pasadena (Calif.). The two-sport athlete has already worked himself into the rotation on special teams, even garnering some punts in the Trojans Fall Camp.

50 MARKOWITZ, Abe C-OG 6-1 305 Sr.*/Sr. 1V Hawaii Kai, HI (Punahou)

Abe Markowitz returns for his sixth season on the offensive line for the USC Trojans, an addition everyone around the program is delighted to entertain. He appeared in 11 games (all but Stanford and Georgia Tech), often sharing playing time at left guard while starting two games last season. Fun note on Markowtiz: he was born in New Zealand and lived in Western Samoa until he was 4 years old.

51 BAGGETT, Cameron OLB 6-1 220 Fr./Fr. — La Jolla (La Jolla)

Baggett comes from high school as a senior two-way lineman, defensive back and running back at La Jolla (Calif.) High in 2012. He finished his career with All-Western League first team honors, having 61 tackles (with 4 sacks), one deflection and one fumble recovery on defense.

78 SELLENS, David OG-C 6-5 290 Fr./Fr. — Yreka (Yreka)

Along with a strong career in football at Yreka High School, Sellens also played basketball and was on the track team, with bests of 161-11 feet in the discus throw and 60-6 ½ feet in the shot put.  He was the 2013 CIF Northern Section champion in the shot and finished third in the discus.

87 MINOR, Aaron WR 6-3 190 Fr./Fr. — Lakewood (Mayfair)

This walk-on is the player to most keep your eyes on four years down the road. With good height and tremendous leaping ability, Minor has already impressed with his performance at Fall Camp. As a 2012 senior wide receiver at Mayfair High in Lakewood (Calif.), Minor had 44 receptions for 527 yards (12.0 average) with 5 TDs, plus 3 kickoff returns for 114 yards (38.0 avg.).

89 WHITE, Cody WR 6-2 190 Fr./Fr. — Lake Forest (El Toro)

Cody White dominated the California landscape as a junior back in 2011, earning Max Preps All-State Division II second team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State Underclass third team, All-CIF Southwest Division, Orange County Register All-Orange County and All-Seaview League first team honors with 85 receptions for 1,295 yards (15.2 avg.) with 17 TDs.

92 SMITH, Zach SNP 6-1 210 Fr./Fr. — Redwood City (Menlo School)

As one of the nationally-ranked long snappers in the nation, Smith has been the hit sensation of the Trojans’ walk-on class from the second he set foot on Howard Jones Field. With sensational moves like the ones that landed him close to 600,000 views on youtube, the Northern California native can really spin the pigskin.

92 MAGUIRE, Michaell DE 6-4 255 Jr.*/Jr. JC Sammamish, WA (Eastlake/Golden West JC)

Maguire, a transfer for the Trojans from Golden West Junior College, will serve as defensive end this season. Last season, Maguire had 15 tackles (with a sack) in five games as a sophomore. He also earned JC Athletic Bureau All-State Region V First Team and All-Southern California Football Association Central Division East Conference first team honors while making 34 tackles (with 8 for losses, including 6 sacks), plus a forced fumble, fumble recovery and deflection. Hoping to bring something to USC, Maguire redshirted on the 2010 Minnesota Duluth NCAA Division II national championship squad.

96 AUGELLO, Joey DT 6-0 285 So./So. JC Rolling Hills Estates (Peninsula/Los Angeles Harbor JC)

Last season at LA Harbor Junior College in Wilmington (Calif), Augello recorded 25 tackles and one sack as a freshman defensive lineman. Back in high school, he made 2011 South Bay Daily Breeze All-South Bay second team and All-Bay League first team as a senior two-way lineman at Peninsula High in Rolling Hills Estates (Calif.), making 63 tackles while also blocking two field goals.

97 SIMMONS, Delvon DE 6-6 300  Jr./Jr. TR McKeesport, PA (McKeesport/Texas Tech)

Simmons is the Texas Tech transfer that must sit out this season due to NCAA Regulations, before hitting the field next year for his red-shirt junior season. Last season with the Red Raiders, Simmons started 13 games on the defensive line, recording 27 tackles, including six for losses along with two sacks. His best games came against Texas squads Baylor and TCU, recording six tackles a piece. He brings plenty of talent out west.