USC: David Buehler

Heidari an example of freshmen success

October, 19, 2011
At one point after USC concluded practice Wednesday, just before coach Lane Kiffin was due to talk shop and while players were concluding one-on-one interviews with members of the media, Kiffin stopped for a second and looked around.

Six players were being interviewed, he later said. And all six of them were first- or second-year players, another in a long list of signs to Kiffin that he and his staff have recruited well since their arrival in January 2010.

"The majority of our really good players and best prospects probably for the long term, for the next level, are in their first or second year," he said. "It's great."

Kiffin made the point after being asked about freshman kicker Andre Heidari, who has been unexpectedly solid through six games this season, making 10-of-11 field-goal attempts and all 18 extra points.

The Bakersfield native, has quietly been one of USC's most reliable players, already the Trojans' best kicker since David Buehler in 2008. His kickoffs haven't been as powerful as Buehler's, but they've consistently gone past the opponents' 10-yard line and forced opponents into returns.

"I think he's doing great," Kiffin said. "Not too often do you find a true freshman kicking like that in big-time games. He's another freshman reminder of the future here."

Heidari is one of nine true freshmen to suit up for the Trojans this season, a list that also includes running backs George Farmer, Amir Carlisle, receiver Marqise Lee, linebackers Lamar Dawson and Tre Madden, defensive lineman J.R. Tavai and offensive linemen Aundrey Walker and Marcus Martin.

Several other redshirt freshman and true sophomores have also played significant roles with the team this season.

Joe Houston, Ross Cumming earn it

August, 24, 2010
The NCAA allows FBS teams 85 scholarship players.

USC had just 70 at the start of camp, leaving 15 spots to be allocated, or saved, to make the assembling of future classes easier.

Miami transfer Thearon Collier got one and former walk-on offensive lineman Abe Markowitz got one, but that still left a hefty 13 available scholarships.

Two of those were filled Tuesday when USC coach Lane Kiffin announced during a team meeting that starting kicker Joe Houston and linebacker Ross Cumming would be awarded scholarships for the upcoming school year.

"Maybe the one positive thing about the sanctions is that we have plenty of spots right now," Kiffin said after Tuesday's practice. "It's great for those guys and for their families."

The news was first reported by USC quarterback Matt Barkley, who has evidently taken a liking to announcing the awarding of scholarships. He did the same when Markowitz earned his two days into camp.

Listed at 5 feet 8, 175 pounds, Houston transferred from a local junior college following his freshman season and spent three years as a walk-on at USC, backing up David Buehler and Jordan Congdon. This fall, he was in competition with scholarship punter Jacob Harfman for the placekicking job and beat him out with a solid camp performance.


Houston called Tuesday's news "a dream come true." Hear what else the 23-year-old had to say in a one-on-one video interview taken Tuesday:



C. Kessler100718468
J. Allen603185.31
J. Davis26602.31
N. Agholor232129.23
J. Smith1117015.50