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USC Football Players Get GPS

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The Trojans used technology on Saturday night to improve their performance.

Harry How/Getty Images

When the Trojans played Arkansas Saturday night, they were equipped with a small GPS device in a harness underneath their shoulder pads.

It tracked their every movement, collecting 1,000 data points per second. The data will hopefully be used to improve the Trojans training regime next season.

If the technology is proven to be successful for the Trojans, the Sydney Swans, an Australian Football League team deserve an assist.

Julia Plotts, a professor at USC Marshall, visited Sydney, Australia with a group of students in 2009. During a trip to the Swans' headquarters, Plotts and her students learned that amongst other savvy tools, the Swans use GPS to track players on the field.

"Sports are a national obsession in Australia and learning how the Swans approached injury prevention and performance monitoring made me realize how much we could learn from an information exchange in this area," Plotts said.

NFL teams typically use technology to optimize the training programs. At the college level, with the exception of the Florida State, it is far less common.

Upon returning to America, Plotts connected with Mark Jackson, then a senior associate director of USC Athletics.

Jackson contacted Catapult, the leading maker of sports analytics devices in Australia. He borrowed 17 GPS units for the Trojans to try out.

"It measures maximum velocity, player load, how much you push out your left foot ... everything," Jackson said. "You have real numbers at the end of every practice."

The Trojans won't rely solely on the GPS but it will likely bring new information to the attention of coaching staff.

Jackson was recently named athletic director for Villanova University.

He says he'll be watching the Trojans closely.