Next man up.
For many years, the tradition of Troy has been to attract and produce greatness. With greatness, you get the luxury of having “the next man up” mentality. However, the Trojans have not really had this type of luxury since the dreaded scholarship ban which quickly followed Carroll’s departure.
But now, it appears Troy has risen again.
Coach Clay Helton has had a magnificent recruiting class these past two years; the starting quarterback is on the Heisman watch list and numerous players on the team have already been named possible All-American’s. So with so much going for the Trojans, why should USC even worry about having the next man up mentality? Well, 50 out of the 85 scholarship players are underclassmen.
What the youth must do.
50 scholarship players out of the 85 on the team are underclassmen. That means that youth runs this team, not experience. Understandably, the Trojans have experienced players at key positions and the captains of the team are ready to be leaders (Darnold, Nwosu, Hawkins, and Smith) but they cannot do it without the youth. The underclassmen must be prepared and accept the fact that they are likely to be called upon at a crucial time during the season. Although nobody dares to think or mention, injuries are highly likely in a season with no bye week. The Trojans have already lost Isaiah Pola-Mao to season ending shoulder surgery. But how does the youth prepare? The answer goes well beyond physical preparation; the kids must mentally not be underclassmen.
Walk like a senior.
The only way the youth of this team will make a lasting impact is if they walk like a senior. What does that mean? These kids must get rid of their high school mentality. Prom and SAT prep are things of the past. They have to put in the work as if they were getting ready to play on Sundays. After practice or when they are on their days off, they have to put in extra time in the weight room and film room. This isn't high school anymore. Fans, alumni, and the country are expecting them to play and act like they have been at USC for three years. With this poise, mentality, and hunger, the nation will not even remember that 50 underclassmen are on the team. The nation will see a team playing as one unit, one heart, and with one focus. To raise the national championship trophy.
So I say to the team and youth in particular, this is your time to show the country you’re more than the number of stars that sat by your name. Get ready, be ready for “Next Man Up”.