Digging In

Having not attended college myself I couldn't possibly understand the rigors of a new level of studies and curriculum. I can't imagine the added responsibility that having to juggles that PLUS preparing for the football season. From what I have read over the years the openness of USC's practices and the throngs of fans that show up it must be a little overwhelming but it's part of the package especially at USC.

Most of the first-year USC players took summer session classes to help with the transition, but upperclassmen said the demands of blending school and football can be still be overwhelming at times for newcomers.

Especially with the season opener Saturday at Virginia.

"It's easy to get tunnel vision," junior quarterback Garrett Green said.

USC senior linebacker Kaluka Maiava, recalling his first semester in 2005, chuckled at the memory.

"You're a young kid in college and you want to do everything at once," he said. "It's time management."

I remember when my brother was at college...not a lot of studying and a whole lot of partying, not just the first year but the whole time there. These kids are under even greater pressure as they represent USC in its highest profile program so they have to make every minute count.

It has to get even crazier if you're one of the stars on the team or one of the upper classmen who has worked his way up to a position on prominence on this team. It's a time when you start thinking about your life/career after USC. Just to name a few, in 2005 it was Leinart, Bush and White, in 2006 it was Jarrett and Smith and in 2007 it was Washington and Booty. This year Fili Moala gets a little of that extra attention.

Shortly after four USC players were selected in the first round of April's NFL draft, an ESPN analyst released his draft projections for 2009.

Moala, shockingly, was No. 1 overall.

"I didn't know anything at all about it until everyone started texting me saying congratulations," Moala recalled. "At first, I'm thinking like, 'For what?' "

The 6-foot-5, 295-pound Moala was flattered by the recognition, but not moved by it.

"It's all preseason stuff -- it doesn't mean anything," Moala said. "But at the same time I do feel like I'm more than capable of doing it and proving to them that I am worthy of something like that one day."

That's has to be an unreal feeling.

Regardless of program, players who have been put under the microscope like that have feel a significant amount of pressure to perform both on and off the field. It has to be even more frustrating if you get injured and you're chomping at the bit to get back on the field and produce.

Pete Carroll had to prod a few players to play through some of the "minor" nicks and dings who thought he needed to be on the field. I give these kids a ton of credit for juggling all of this. its one thing when you have a few years under your belt as an adult in the real world it is quite another when you're an 18, 19 or even a 20 year old kid.

 

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