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New Outlook for Van Raaphorst

September 01, 2000|JIM HODGES

Play time with the kids was over Thursday, and then it was off to work with the grownups. You'll pardon Mike Van Raaphorst if he seems a bit schizophrenic.

Once he was USC's quarterback, after entering school with aspirations of punching his Pacific 10 ticket for four years, then moving on to the NFL. Now he's a senior backing up sophomore Carson Palmer, who, Coach Paul Hackett has said, is going to play as many snaps as he can all season.

The NFL is Never-Never Land.

A few sacks, a few interceptions, a few lost games have taken Van Raaphorst to the real world of graduate school by night, mostly sitting in classes of older students who have already begun their trips toward captaincy in industry.

He's the guy who just left the practice field, where he threw a few passes to 18- and 19-year-olds.

"I had to look at the world in front of me," said Van Raaphorst, who has a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism, achieved with a 3.72 grade-point average and, for some reason, a lack of understanding of what dues had to be paid to get behind a microphone and be paid for it.

"I spent the summer working for [former SC quarterback] Pat Haden in his [equity investment/venture capital] business and I loved it. I fully understand what an MBA can do for me."

He also understood that USC still owed him a year of education and could pay for graduate school. So he leaves practice early when he has to, attends all the meetings he can and suits up for games, with Hackett frankly hoping that Van Raaphorst's Saturdays will be spent signaling plays to Palmer.


Though Sultan McCullough started at tailback and carried 29 times for 128 yards Sunday in the 29-5 win over Penn State, Hackett still declares the job open, with competition among McCullough, Malaefou MacKenzie and Petros Papadakis. One thing that concerned the coach was McCullough's fumble against the Nittany Lions.

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