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USC FOOTBALL REPORT

Leinart to Have Elbow Surgery

January 20, 2005|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC quarterback Matt Leinart will have surgery on his left elbow next week to address tendinitis that plagued the Heisman Trophy winner last season.

The outpatient procedure will be performed Tuesday by team doctor James Tibone. Leinart's status for spring practice, which begins March 6, is uncertain, but he said he would be ready for next season.

The Trojans open Sept. 3 at Hawaii.

"Our doctors ... told me that the success rate is excellent and I should be 100% going into the 2005 season," Leinart said in a statement released through USC. "I'm very confident that I'll be at 100%.

"I wanted to get this done now because I have the time to do it. I'll have time to properly rehab it and I'll do all that is necessary to get better as quickly as possible."

Leinart passed for 33 touchdowns last season while leading the Trojans to their second consecutive national title. He announced last week that he was turning down the opportunity to turn pro and returning for his final season of eligibility.

The decision shocked many because Leinart was projected as a certain first-round pick -- and possible top-five selection -- in the NFL draft April 23. Leinart said at the time that he was physically and mentally prepared for the battery of tests NFL teams would have put him through before the draft.

He said in his statement Tuesday that the condition of his elbow had not figured into his decision.

"I want to make it clear that this was not the reason why I decided to return to USC for my senior year," he said. "By no means did this have any effect on my decision. As I said last week, my decision was based on my desire to stay in the college atmosphere with my friends and teammates and continue doing the things we're doing here at USC."

Leinart noticed his tendinitis during the 2003 season and the condition prevented the 6-foot-5 left-hander from throwing passes last summer. It persisted during training camp and forced Leinart to limit his practice throws through the first part of the Trojans' 13-0 season.

"The tendinitis wasn't something that hindered his play -- that was fairly obvious this past season -- but there was general soreness he had to deal with," Coach Pete Carroll said in a statement.

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Patrick Turner, rated one of the nation's top receiver recruits, committed to USC on Wednesday, according to multiple sources. Turner, 6-5 and 210 pounds, is from Goodpasture High in Memphis, Tenn.

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