USC Kicker Ryon Sayeri Aims For Quick Impact

Ryon Sayeri is USC’s future at kicker, but he wants to be the present

The Chaminade High All-American is determined to start as a true freshman as the Trojans recognize the need to improve

Chaminade kicker Ryon Sayeri smiles after a successful field goal against Villa Park during their CIF Southern Section Division 3 quarterfinal game Nov. 10, 2023. (Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)
Chaminade kicker Ryon Sayeri smiles after a successful FG against Villa Park during their CIF Southern Section Div 3 quarterfinal game Nov. 10, 2023. (Photo by Andy Holzman)

Luca Evans (OC Register)  —  LOS ANGELES — Ryon Sayeri positioned himself behind a tee, this dance perfectly choreographed by now. Once and twice and thrice, the USC commit slid to his left, his left leg locking, his face an immovable mass of stone. Once and twice and thrice, he strode toward the football, his plant-leg curving upon itself, torquing and delivering another 40-yarder through the uprights at Chaminade High.

The afternoon rays scorched off the blue turf of his alma mater in the San Fernando Valley, threatening to melt another pair of Sayeri’s cleats. He stayed, engrossed in the same routine. After an hour, trainer Cole Murphy issued a challenge to his protégé.

“Five-ball scatter?” he asked Sayeri.

Sayeri nodded, expression unchanged.

Murphy, a former Syracuse kicker, took five footballs out of a bin, tossing them at various points across the field. One landed by the left hashes on the 20-yard line. One landed at midfield on the 30. One landed back at the 42. One by one, Sayeri set up a tee, slid to his left, strode and nailed each, finishing with a 57-yarder that split the pylons with a cushion to spare.

“He’s a gamer,” Murphy said while watching Sayeri kick, a kid needing little direction.

Come fall camp, USC’s kickers are set for perhaps the most quietly fascinating positional battle on the roster. The program converted just two-thirds of its field goals in 2023, ranking 109th in the country; head coach Lincoln Riley told reporters in early April that taking a step up at kicker had been “one of our big offseason goals.” In late April, USC nabbed Georgia Southern kicker Michael Lantz out of the portal, set to battle for the job with incumbents Denis Lynch and Tyler Robles.

Sayeri is the future, the first All-American selection in Chaminade program history. But he’s also trying to be the present. He had a handful of collegiate scholarships on the table this winter, with full rides from San Jose State and San Diego State, only to commit to USC as a preferred walk-on. The bet was simple, a quiet conviction: Sayeri believes, fully, that he’ll be Lincoln Riley’s kicker this fall.

Chaminade coach David Machuca would try to impart upon Sayeri in his recruitment: Dude, you have a scholarship to SDSU and San Jose. Why not go and start there, on scholarship, and then transfer to USC?

“I straight-up told him,” Sayeri said, “I have faith that I could go to any school in the nation and start automatically.”

‘Make sure you’re remembered’

Five years ago, Sayeri entered Chaminade as a scrawny 13-year-old soccer convert who had never played football. But his right leg hummed with confidence, and Machuca couldn’t help but notice.

At that time, Chaminade’s starting kicker was current Syracuse punter Jack Stonehouse. But Machuca, then an assistant at Chaminade, got in longtime coach Ed Croson’s ear.

“Hey,” Machuca remembered telling Croson, “I think the young guy’s better than him.”

“Nah,” Croson would hem, “he’s a freshman.”

“Well, I don’t know,” Machuca would counter, “he keeps making ’em.”

Five years later, Machuca and Sayeri walked into a USC spring practice in April, two months before Sayeri was set to move in. They chatted with Drew Fox, an assistant director of player personnel. They chatted with Zach Hanson, USC’s tight ends coach. They chatted with other staffers.

Machuca told them all the same thing: Sayeri was going to win the job as a freshman.

It happened before, Sayeri beating out Stonehouse that freshman year at Chaminade en route to a standout high school career. And those around Sayeri are fully convinced it’ll happen again at USC.

“He’s the kind of kid that you can plug-and-play,” Murphy said. “It’s kinda tough to find a lot of those kids.”

In sessions with Murphy, Sayeri trains with two GoPros positioned on either side of him, capturing a front-and-back angle of his swing. His plant leg has become almost double-jointed, seemingly bending backward to snap power into his swing. It’s built off a Murphy-ingrained philosophy of staying close to the ball, similar to the swing of legendary Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker.

Technique, however, is secondary to sheer mentality as a collegiate kicker. There is an edge, a steadiness as a performer, that some kids simply don’t have, Murphy said.

He’s sent plenty of trainees to see a sports psychologist. He’s never needed to send Sayeri.

“I’ve really never seen him get nervous before,” Murphy said.

Pressure, still, lingers in Sayeri’s mind entering USC. It was always a goal to play a sport in college. But Sayeri bet on himself in picking USC. And with a starting job hanging in the balance, and more importantly a scholarship, want has become need.

“There’s a lot of things he wants to achieve there,” Sayeri’s dad, Matt, said. “That’s our mindset, that’s my – like, when you’re going to go there, just make sure you’re remembered.”

“You’re not just some empty footsteps in a hallway.”

Gunning for the top job

Sayeri knows the competition will be fierce, particularly as USC’s incumbent is one of the most beloved faces on the roster.

In September, in the midst of his second year as USC’s starting kicker, Lynch was finally put on scholarship. When Riley announced the news to the team in the fall, they “erupted,” Riley remembered, requesting Lynch come up for a speech.

In the days to come, reporters asked members of the program exactly what Lynch said. Nobody was able to put it into words, Lynch was an unsolvable enigma, a kid whose go-to drink at Starbucks – as described by Murphy, who has also long worked with Lynch – is an iced chocolate milk.

“It was really bizarre,” Riley remembered, “and then at the end it was like, ‘And thank you,’ and walked off. That’s just Denis for you.”

Lynch, the dripped-out, milk-drinking favorite, is the “king of the hill” for USC’s job at the moment, as Murphy described. But USC’s staff, particularly special teams analyst Ryan Dougherty, has been clear to the faces in the room, Murphy said: To win the job, you have to separate yourself. In April, Dougherty told Sayeri he wanted all of USC’s kickers to be above 80% accuracy.

Sayeri’s entire mentality since has shifted in his workouts, suddenly keeping track of every single make or miss. If USC wanted 80%, Sayeri figured, he’d shoot for 90%.

“The coach made it clear, like, ‘We wanted change,’” Sayeri said. “Like, ‘We want to be a top specialist school.’ And I think we could do that, and that’s my goal.”

Lynch has been hit-or-miss on field goals for a couple of years, hovering around 70%, but has been solid on extra points. Incoming transfer Lantz nailed 23 of 28 tries (82.1%) last year at Georgia Southern. But Sayeri isn’t focusing on anyone but himself, he said, quietly leaning against a bench after his workout.

“I think, if I kick how I did today, any single day,” Sayeri said, “I don’t think there’s any doubt in my mind.”

ocregister.com

___________

TrojanDailyBlog members —  We always encourage you to add factual information, insight, divergent opinions, or new topics to the TDB that don’t necessarily pertain to any particular moderator post or member comment.

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parcelman007
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June 15, 2024 11:03 am

I think the offense will be better this year without Caleb regardless of who wins the QB battle. The offense will have more rythm. Both Moss and Maiva will get rid of the ball faster like Penix and Nix did last year at Oregon and Washington. Plus I think they will snap the ball faster and not use the whole 40 second play clock changing the plays 1 or 2 times before they snap the ball. I’m not saying that Moss or Maiva are more physically talented that Caleb but the offense will have a lot more rythm without Caleb.… Read more »

parcelman007
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June 11, 2024 4:47 pm

I saw an article on the internet. I didn’t read it. I should have. The article showed a picture of a USC song girl and then the title of the article which was below the picture, which was ‘Worst universities in America’. Because I didn’t read the article, I don’t know what it said. But if anyone just looks at that frontpage like I did, they will come away thinking USC is one of the worst universities in america. It was just a secular magazine. It was not a sports magazine. That just goes to show you how many Trojan… Read more »

parcelman007
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June 11, 2024 4:53 pm
Reply to  parcelman007

I call them haters because that is just a lie. I’ve seen many studies that rate the best universities in the country and, at least academically, USC was always rated high.

parcelman007
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June 8, 2024 8:38 am

LR made a huge mistake with Grench. That cost the program 2 years. The good thing is that 2023 was a paradym shift in LR’s philosophy about defense and football in general. It isn’t the same LR any more. He’s a completely different coach now with a new philosophy. When he is thinking right, this guy can get things done.CH could never get things done. He talked about wanting a more physical football team for years, especially on the offensive LOS. He finally gave up on that idea and hired Graham Harrell and went to the air raid. But LR… Read more »

parcelman007
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June 8, 2024 11:41 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I’m hoping for 9 or 10 wins. Maybe those thoughts are coming from my heart and not my mind. I’m just looking at UCLA’s defense last year. They ran a 4 man defensive line. Two exterior and 2 interior defensive line men. The 2 guys on the outside were OK. The 2 guys on the inside were actually pretty good but they had nobody behind them. Yet, if I’m not mistaken, they finished 2nd in the nation against the run. If they can do that this year, they’ll have a pretty good defense because their secondary and LB’s should be… Read more »

parcelman007
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June 8, 2024 2:09 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

You’re probably right.I say that because on some subjects, I am a cool-aid drinker

TrojanRJJ
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June 8, 2024 1:52 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Great minds think alike. I am very much at 8-4 (as I think much of the national press is likewise). LR can change that by week 3. If SC opens 3-0 (which is a huge long short), then look for the team to potentially go 10-2. My guess is SC opens 1-2.

parcelman007
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June 2, 2024 6:11 pm

I still think that LR is an outstanding coach.But he made a huge mistake in choosing to ignore everyones advice and keeping Grinch. That has set the program back about 2 years. Many coaches would not be able to overcome that mistake. I do think LR will be but it will take more time that it should have taken.

TrojanRJJ
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June 3, 2024 12:03 pm
Reply to  parcelman007

I think all of us agree. To use Allen’s language, there is no excuse for LR did in 2023. And, I agree it set the program back at least 2 years. But, at least, he has realized his mistake and has repaired it. A coach the caliber of a Clay Helton or a Jimbo Fisher would not have done so. LR is a very rare bird.

TrojanRJJ
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June 3, 2024 1:37 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Allen, we are just going to disagree. I see it totally differently. Most extremely successful persons are normally simply unwilling to “unlearn” the process and approach that produced that success. Look at Jimbo Fisher. Jimbo is, I think, the norm. Some simply lack the ability to make the critical changes. An example of that type of coach is Clay Helton (probably the least capable HC in SC history, who was extended by probably the least capable AD in SC history). The only HC who has made this large a change (he did not just fire his D staff, he changed… Read more »

parcelman007
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June 4, 2024 12:47 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I think 2023 was a gigantic enlightenment to LR.

parcelman007
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June 4, 2024 8:31 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

And I think that he will succeed. The Grinch thing just set him back a couple of years.

Jamaica
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June 3, 2024 3:28 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

It is incredulous that a HC as intelligent as LR is could not see what was happening after the easy part of the 2022 season was done and a defense unable to stop anyone else and then see it happening again but only worse throughout the 2023 season. But then look at what LR had to work with when he came on board. Helton literally lead a program to a mediocre shambles of itself. LR had a choice of playing Helton’s leftovers or try to bring in some Portal players to salvage a program from falling apart. What LR’s 2-… Read more »

parcelman007
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June 2, 2024 4:56 pm

Aaron Dunn, the 6’7″ four star offensive tackle from the state of Utah. SC is going big time after him. I don’t think they will get him. Here’s why. Oregon is going after him. It’s that simple. I could be wrong. Let’s wait and see.

parcelman007
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June 2, 2024 6:05 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I really don’t think Oregon needs this guy. If he looks like he is going to choose UCLA, they will probably let him go. But if he looks like he is going to SC, they will pay money just to keep SC from getting him. If USC can’t outbid UCLA for a 4 star O-Lineman where they have a big need, then there is something wrong.

TrojanRJJ
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June 3, 2024 12:17 pm
Reply to  parcelman007

I think the issue is depth on the OL in the frosh class. We already have I think 8 guys in the true frosh, true soph classes. What you cannot do is mess up the “payroll” for those kids, unless you want to raise everyone. As you wisely point out, there is a lot of “game theory” in this NIL game. Oregon might not care about the kid but will attempt to use him to mess up the USC OL “payroll”. It is an interesting take and is a dimension of “pay for play” NIL I had not thought of.… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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May 31, 2024 11:14 am

Greeting from Frisco, TX. I have not posted in awhile as I decided to let the dust settle on all the changes in collegiate football. First, is the lawsuit by the CA QB who was promised $15M by FL and then the deal fell apart. The kid is suing the UF, the Booster who was going to back the deal, and the UF staff for fraud. He is represented by a PI attorney (meaning the case is on a contingency). For you non-lawyers, the suit is not in contract – he is not claiming that the NIL was breached. He… Read more »

Golden Trojan
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May 31, 2024 12:52 pm
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RJJ glad you are back. Good points all. So many questions seems to me federal legislation is urgently needed for special carve outs for student athletes. It is urgent because the 2025 recruits will be impacted.

parcelman007
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June 3, 2024 2:00 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Lawyers run the whole country

TrojanRJJ
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June 3, 2024 12:00 pm
Reply to  parcelman007

parcelman, Thank for being so kind. Most would say lawyers ruin the whole country.

Jamaica
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May 31, 2024 8:37 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

If Dante Moore is the QB Lanning needs, the Ducks have a good chance to win the BIG these next two years. Ohio St has to play in Eugene this season and we will see how that turns out. I don’t think there’s much doubt about this. Possibly 2025 will edge closer but definitely 2026 will look brighter for the Trojans to make their mark as conference heavyweights? From then on these two West Coast teams will give Michigan & Ohio St all that they can handle providing the coaching staffs remain here.

TrojanRJJ
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May 31, 2024 9:35 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

SC. Historically, Oregon has played poorly on the road, UW does not have the talent needed, and UCLA Is, well, UCLA.

TrojanRJJ
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May 31, 2024 11:19 am
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Oregon is a huge advantage over most teams at this time. It is professionally owned by Nike. This window will close very quickly (my guess is two to three years). I think that Lanning and staff will mess up this significant advantage. SC is now figuring it out and will get there very quickly, along with other elite programs. I discount UW simply because it lacks professional ownership and is basically still run by academics and far left-wing academics at that. Unlike others, I do not hold it against LR for trying to get out of the LSU game. He… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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June 1, 2024 8:33 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I do not see it that way. SC football is what it is. How it got there is another story and, for now, to me, not relevant. The issue is how to best manage that team. FYI, I have read several commentators who completely reject this story and say it is groundless nonsense. For me, again, irrelevant. I think we all can agree that LR really messed up 2023 and that disaster is entirely on him. He not only caused it, he made it worse with his denials as to the reality of what was going on. But, that is… Read more »

parcelman007
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June 1, 2024 2:33 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Some rich people think that their money can buy anything…..even a national championship. You shouldn’t be able to buy a NC.

TrojanRJJ
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June 1, 2024 8:26 am
Reply to  parcelman007

parcelman, The issue is not primarily money, although that is certainly important. The issue is management. Nike is professionally managing the Oregon football team.running the program very similarly to how NFL teams are run, without a salary cap. No other collegiate program that I know of has that advantage. For example, I expect that Texas A&M has a larger budget for NIL (employment payroll) than Oregon. But, it is not professionally managed by a single competent professional management team,which is paid for and supplied by Nike AND no other program has a in essence a corporation funding its NIL as… Read more »

Jamaica
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June 1, 2024 12:32 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

No matter what the inside story is about running the duck program, what is uncontrollable are the player’s attitude. Do they all buy in on what is occurring? Paying-promoting-playing will rule that looker room’s unity.

Jamaica
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June 1, 2024 12:19 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Wish you were right on Oregon playing away RJJ, but look at what the Ducks have done in past years: At Tennessee, at Mich St. At Ohio St. At Michigan, all wins. They’re not intimidated anymore playing in difficult venues like USC.

Jamaica
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May 31, 2024 8:08 am

It has started as expected, LR tried getting out of the LSU matchup is giving all the podcaster’s the fodder they need to throw the slop out on the airways. Now LR & the team will be pressured to win the game to save face. Is this what the coaching staff wants?

Golden Trojan
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May 31, 2024 9:09 am
Reply to  Jamaica

It makes sense for LR to want to get out of the LSU game and the Ole Miss games. USC has ND and 9 conference games. The SEC plays 8 conference games, 3 cupcakes and maybe a decent Power 4 non conference game. But hey Jamaica, it’s May 31st, what else is there to podcast about college football?

Jamaica
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May 31, 2024 8:03 am

This report on Michigan St. DT Simeon Barrow & Miami not working out yet? Is this about a money grab or other perk demands? And to think LR was courting him?

parcelman007
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May 30, 2024 7:22 pm

A lot of these recruits, both new and in the transfer portal, need to be carefull when a bigtime powerhouse football program offers them a scholarship.Many times those schools have already filled their needs and the last few offers are just to keep one of their rivals from getting these players. They, personally, have no plans to use them on anything but the practice squads. So it ends up being a loss of a year or 2 before they see the writing on the wall.

RialtoTrojan
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May 29, 2024 10:29 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Are there any other sources for this story? It’s been getting spread rather widely, but I seem to remember seeing the same stuff being said about Kelly not wanting the game. I can’t distinguish this story from other SEC bravado (read BS). My sister in Vegas said ticket sales were average, so maybe that’s the motivation behind this story getting interest in a start of the season bowl game.

Golden Trojan
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May 29, 2024 11:33 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

After this year The Trojans have a home and home with Kiffen’s Ole Miss. It’s not till ’27 that they have 2 Mountain West cupcakes.

Golden Trojan
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May 30, 2024 8:50 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

LSU like the rest of the SEC only play 8 conference games. Besides USC, LSU also has UCLA, Nicholls, and South Alabama this season. LSU needs USC to make their nonconference schedule legit.

Golden Trojan
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May 30, 2024 10:16 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

UGH! That was the worse USC-UCLA game ever last season. Not the score but the disinterest on the part of the Trojans for their biggest rival. If LSU played the Trojans and the Ruins last year, USC would be the cupcake and the Ruins would have given them a game. This season I think/hope it will be the other way around. The Trojan team that showed up Dec. 27th was not the same team that played Nov.18th.

Golden Trojan
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May 30, 2024 11:14 am
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Remarkably similar?! Wow just swap out names and Schlabach is writing about the Trojans! Lets hope Moss doesn’t pull a Mitch Mustain or Aaron Corp. The torches and pitch forks will be out quick if LR doesn’t get it together.

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May 31, 2024 9:34 am
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Allen, I am still at an optimistic 8-4 for the regular season. What I expect: The D will be drastically improved. Grinch was the worst DC in SC history (one of the worst in Power 5 history) and LR has a well-deserved stain on his reputation as a HC for bringing him back in 2023 and then being in denial for most of the season as to just how bad a decision that was. The O will be about the same maybe better. The schedule is MUCH tougher than 2023. Finally, we will not see blow outs like we did… Read more »

RialtoTrojan
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May 28, 2024 5:27 pm

USC is 6.5 underdogs against LSU September 1 in Vegas. I don’t really think that’s based in reality, but I’m basing my optimism on the spring game defense and the bowl game offense. There are unknowns such as the defensive and offensive lines, but if we have the right coaches those things will work out.
I think being the underdog is an advantage at this point because players will have something to prove. It really will be a make or break game for the coaching staff and the players. Hopefully not another “wait until next year season.”

Chris
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May 28, 2024 4:56 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Everyone had season highs against us last year. Glad for any change, especially bringing in really good staff. From Grinch to this staff will be significantly better than any player upgrades.

Canyon
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May 28, 2024 5:38 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Dam, another WR? C.LR had 3 from the TP, J.Fair, J.Richardson, K.Ford and 1 from HS R.Ison and holding out for Phil Bell. Very good 2024 class. Shoot, why go for another average WR? Most important, need one more DL and 2 more LB’s. Dang, ? move by C.LR…

Jamaica
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May 28, 2024 6:44 pm
Reply to  Canyon

Not saying it will but it could more than once in Big Ten conference games in loading up with WRs from non-power 5 programs that will hardly see the field of play but need DTs even if they are non-power 5 to at least give the starters a short blow when needed???? If you can’t stop the run and the opponent has control of the ball most of the game eating up the game cloak, what good are those 3-4 WRs standing on the sidelines?. Will LR ever learn loading up on unneeded skill offensive side liners isn’t getting him… Read more »

Chris
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May 28, 2024 9:16 pm
Reply to  Canyon

We only have 11 on roster. Thats barely enough to run a practice. Bodies were needed there.

Canyon
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May 29, 2024 6:23 pm
Reply to  Chris

C.LR must get Phil Bell, WR, Mission Viejo HS, He is the #1 WR in Calif 2025 class. Seen him in 5 games in 2 years (TV) and he is a complete WR, catches everything, runs great routes and very physical. Not a speed burner, but gets good separation. He is another Makai Lemon, Los Al.

Bruddah Chris, are any TP DL and LB leaning towards USC? Shoot, the roster needs 1 more DL and 2 LB with mucho experience dat played a lot. Give us good news. Cheers

Jamaica
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May 30, 2024 8:55 am
Reply to  Canyon

What is needed are WRs that #1- can catch a football consistently, # 2- Get open on their route or called play, and#3- make blocks down field when another player is carrying the ball. How many times have we seen WR standing there not trying to block anyone while the ball carrier is trying to get by and actually gets in the way? you want a CJ Gable RB who will effectively block an on coming rusher in the backfield protecting the QB and a Steve Smith who will give himself up to take out a CB or safety from… Read more »

Canyon
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May 27, 2024 11:50 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

May Bill Walton rest in peace. Deep condolences to his family. Walton was a great basketball player, college Hall of Fame, colorful TV personality, loved UCLA and da PAC 12. BW will be missed. Dang, did not know he was dat sick. I will never forget him.
 
Peace & Aloha

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May 28, 2024 9:23 am
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My first memories of Bill Walton was back in ’77-78. It was at the end of my bicycle racing days. Bill would come down to the Balboa Park Velodrome (San Diego) to ride for fun (not racing). The sight of a 6’11” guy on a custom built track bike was something to see! I saw him later in San Diego while I was doing a ortho/sports injury internship in ’82. He had chronic stress fractures in the navicular bone of the feet. The last time I saw him was February, we were on an Alaska Airlines flight from San Diego… Read more »

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May 28, 2024 4:26 pm
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Bill Walton was a great announcer. He knew the X’s and the O’s of the game and he knew the history. He was a sports commedienne and he really made the game interesting as long as he stuck to the game, When he started to talk about the new book he had just read about Petunas, I wasn’t interested. He never said a bad word about anyone. My problem was that he was a leftist lib who said too many good things about people who I wasn’t fond of like Angela Davis. All and all though, the game has lost… Read more »

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May 29, 2024 1:45 am
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Sports Illustrated had him listed as the 2nd greatest college basketball player of all time. There was
1) Kareem Abdul Jabbar
2) Bill Walton
3) Pete Maravich
Those were the top 3.

TrojanRon
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May 29, 2024 1:30 am
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I think Bill’s fair treatment of USC goes back to his playing days at UCLA and competing against USC’s Paul Westphal. Bill had a lot of respect for Paul who was one player John Wooden really wanted, but didn’t get. When Bill was asked who he would want to have the ball at the end of the game to make a shot to tie or win, he always mentioned Paul Westphal. Paul passed away a few years ago and now Bill. May they both R.I.P.

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May 27, 2024 6:11 pm

RIP Bill Walton, the guy USC loved to hate.

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May 27, 2024 6:29 pm
Reply to  Steveg

He was an icon. Sometimes he was a great listen and others the worst. But, he was synonymous with college basketball.

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