It's no April Fools' Joke. Just two practices into the spring slate, the Trojans are creating their own version of Survivor as a way to combat the monotony of spring practice — and by the looks of things, it was a success.
It was new special teams coordinator/associate head coach John Baxter's idea. He designated four tribal chiefs and held a Survivor Draft this week in team meetings. Then, he told the players to come onto Howard Jones Field for Thursday's practice waving their flags.
The "chiefs" are linebacker Michael Morgan, tight end Rhett Ellison, fullback Stanley Havili and running back Allen Bradford — and their antics set the tone for what would be another highly-energized practice for the Trojans.
A few other notes from practice:
Offensive lineman Martin Coleman was the last pick of the survivor draft. The last six selections were all offensive linemen."Takes you right back to elementary school P.E., doesn't it?" Baxter said.
Former Trojans Charles Brown, Jeff Byers and Everson Griffen all stopped by to watch practice after participating in Pro Day on Wednesday. Mater Dei quarterback Max Wittek, who has a scholarship offer from USC, was also in attendance.
Senior center Kristofer O'Dowd suffered a sprained left knee when he crumpled to the floor early in Thursday's practice. The injury looked to be worse, but reports say O'Dowd is day-to-day. In his absence — and the absence of Michael Reardon, who suffered a neck injury in an ATV accident over the weekend — walk-on center Abe Markowitz took a great deal of the snaps. Offensive line coach James Cregg said the coaching staff could move guard John Martinez over to center to give Markowitz a break during Saturday's practice.
Coach Lane Kiffin called receiver Ronald Johnson the team's MVP through two practices — "for what it's worth." Johnson had two touchdown catches in team play Thursday, including a streak down the left sideline that showcased his speed. He also came away unscathed after a dangerous attempt to make a diving catch on a one-on-two play led to him lying on the cement near the entrance to the practice field.
The defensive play of the day came from defensive tackle Da'John Harris, who jumped in the air and tipped a Matt Barkley pass to himself, intercepting it and taking it back the other way. Harris, a redshirt junior to-be, has struggled so far in his time with the Trojans.
Here's what Kiffin had to say about the Trojans' day on the field: