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USC FOOTBALL

Palmer Successors Gear Up

January 22, 2003|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC is displaying Carson Palmer's Heisman Trophy and retiring his cardinal and gold No. 3 jersey today during a noon pep rally at Heritage Hall.

Brandon Hance, who wore a yellow No. 4 practice jersey while redshirting this season, has already begun working to succeed Palmer as the Trojans' No. 1 quarterback.

Last Thursday, Hance went through his first off-season weightlifting workout. He was still feeling the aftereffects in his upper body on Tuesday.

"I'm ridiculously sore," Hance said a few hours before reporting for another session. "But it's a start."

Hance, a 6-foot 1-inch, 190-pound junior transfer from Purdue, will compete with redshirt sophomore Matt Cassel and redshirt freshmen Matt Leinart and Billy Hart when spring practice begins March 4. USC Coach Pete Carroll has said that he wants to identify the team's top two quarterbacks before training camp begins in August.

Hance, who played at Woodland Hills Taft High, had shoulder surgery last May and spent this past season rehabilitating and observing Palmer and the other quarterbacks.

In November, he took snaps with the scout team and got several repetitions with the first-unit offense during the first few weeks of practice for the Orange Bowl.

"I was kind of laying low in tall grass this season," said Hance. "Now, I have to start gradually immersing myself as a leader and show a good work ethic in the weight room.

"If my shoulder heals up the way I'm hoping it will, I think I can be the No. 1 guy."

Offensive coordinator Norm Chow said he met with Cassel on Tuesday to discuss an individual strategy for preparing for spring practice.

Chow said he would do the same with Hance, Leinart and Hart over the next few days.

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Palmer's jersey number is the fifth that USC has retired. Fellow Heisman Trophy winners Mike Garrett (20), O.J. Simpson (32), Charles White (12) and Marcus Allen (33) also had their jerseys retired, though Garrett previously gave incoming freshman safety Darnell Bing permission to wear No. 20.... The Victory Bell, awarded to the winner of the USC-UCLA game; the shillelagh, awarded to the winner of the USC-Notre Dame game, and the Orange Bowl Trophy will also be on display at today's pep rally, which will also honor USC's NCAA champion women's volleyball team. USC President Steven Sample, Garrett, Carroll and Palmer are among those scheduled to address the crowd.

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