Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Introducing USC's 2010 captains
By Pedro Moura
The votes are in and the Trojans have come to a conclusion on their five -- not four, as is traditional -- 2010 captains: quarterback Matt Barkley, fullback Stanley Havili, cornerback Shareece Wright and two linebackers -- Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan.
Smith and Morgan came in an exact tie, making them both captains. Barkley is the only non-senior of the bunch, beating out a three-year starter in center Kristofer O'Dowd for the honor -- and a number of other viable candidates.
"Anybody could've been captain on this team," senior receiver Ronald Johnson said after practice Monday. "The guys that were chosen are the vocal guys and the guys that stand out.
"I think those guys deserve it."
Barkley, 19, is younger than any Trojan captain in recent memory. Nineteen or not, though, Barkley proved to be the leader of this Trojan team throughout the tumultuous offseason. He served as the team spokesman of sorts when Pete Carroll resigned. When Lane Kiffin was hired, too. He was the only player who spoke to assembled media on the day the NCAA sanctions broke.
And he set up each of the Trojans' many players-only summer throwing sessions -- all the while working on his own game and losing a significant amount of weight.
"For him to be named as a sophomore says a lot about his work ethic," Kiffin said Monday. "He wants to be the best and he's working that way."
Adds Wright: "He's taken on that role, so I'm not surprised he's the captain."
As for Havili, the 22-year-old senior's honor showed that the camp incident that earned him a one-day practice suspension from Kiffin really was an aberration in his teammates' eyes. The fullback still received "a ton" of votes," Kiffin said, proving that the incident -- which earned him a one-day suspension from practice -- really was an aberration in his teammates' eyes.
Said Kiffin: "I think it says exactly what we felt when it happened. It was a surprise. It was a very poor decision by him -- one that is out of character for him, being here a long time and (considering) what our players think about him."
Wright is the least experienced of the bunch -- with only three career starts -- and has also had a bit of a checkered past, missing all but one game of the 2009 season due to academic ineligibility. He was also arrested in a 2008 Labor Day weekend incident in his hometown of Colton and charged with disturbing the peace. Wright maintained innocence regarding the incident and all charges have since been dropped. And since winter workouts began in February, Wright has been exceedingly vocal in his leadership of secondary mates Jawanza Starling, T.J. McDonald and Nickell Robey.
"It means a lot," Wright said of the honor, while adding that he has long considered himself a leader on the squad. "It just shows that my teammates know what type of player I am and what type of person I am too, that I really care for them and I'm here for them."