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USC FOOTBALL REPORT

It's Still All About the Rings

March 13, 2004|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC players received their national championship rings on Friday and will visit the White House on March 23 after they return from spring break.

"When we get back from the White House, it's over. That's the end of that year," senior defensive tackle Shaun Cody said. "But the rings are beautiful."

About 400 high school and junior college coaches attending a two-day clinic at USC ringed Howard Jones Field as the Trojans concluded their first week of spring practice with a 45-play scrimmage that featured three fumbles, one interception and no touchdowns by the offense.

"The ball was all over the ground," Coach Pete Carroll said. "It's going to be a process here with the offensive line."

Linebacker Matt Grootegoed, who was slowed or sidelined for the second half of last season because of torn ligaments in his ankle, capped the workout by returning a blocked field-goal attempt 68 yards to the end zone.

Quarterback Matt Leinart completed 10 of 14 passes for 132 yards. John David Booty was three for five for 51 yards and Brandon Hance two for three for 12 yards.

The scrimmage was not devoid of spirit. Several players were separated after plays to prevent skirmishes.

"The fight is definitely there -- that's clear," Carroll said. "We need to channel it a little better than we did today."

*

Lee Webb planned to move from fullback to linebacker, but the senior will remain in the backfield because junior Brandon Hancock is scheduled to undergo possible season-ending knee surgery Tuesday in Fresno. Hancock will have two procedures on the same day, one for a chest injury suffered in the weight room, the other for a left knee injury sustained in the Rose Bowl.

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