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Danelo's memory alive and well

REPORT

September 01, 2007|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

A ceremony honoring the late Mario Danelo will be held tonight before USC's season opener against Idaho.

Danelo, a record-setting kicker for the Trojans in 2005 and 2006, would have been a senior this season. He died last January from a fall from a cliff near his home in San Pedro.

"I'm sure the tribute will be great," said Michael McDonald, the holder for field goals and extra points who was among Danelo's closest friends on the team. "It will be nice to have his family there and keep his memory coming along with us."

Several tributes to Danelo can be seen on USC's campus and the Coliseum.

Goundskeepers at USC painted Danelo's jersey number "19" in the end zones of campus practice fields, and a seat in the team meeting room at Heritage Hall is left unoccupied.

A photo of Danelo also was mounted near the locker room.

No USC player will wear No. 19 this season, but players' helmets will be adorned with a No. 19 decal.

The Coliseum goal posts are protected with padding that has Danelo's name on it, and a banner near the tunnel is emblazoned with Danelo's favorite saying, "Living the Dream."

"I still talk to him every day," senior guard Drew Radovich said. "I still go through ups and downs. It's still fresh in my mind, and I try to keep a positive spirit."

Kicker David Buehler said he would use Danelo's memory as inspiration.

"He's still with us," he said. "He's still in our hearts and still in our memories. I know he's going to help me throughout the year."

A USC non-athletic department appeals panel on Friday granted former receiver Jamere Holland a release to transfer to any school, his attorney said. That clears the way for the former Woodland Hills Taft High star to speak with Oregon and other Pacific 10 Conference schools.

Coach Pete Carroll dismissed Holland from the team but had denied the redshirt freshman's request to speak with Pac-10 schools and Florida. Former Taft Coach Troy Starr is Florida's director of football operations.

USC officials advise fans to allow extra time for arrival and parking tonight because of congestion caused by construction of the new Exposition Light Rail line and construction at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the California Science Center.

Idaho has 29 players from California, including cornerback Stanley Franks (Downey High, Long Beach City College), who led the nation with nine interceptions last season. No USC players are from Idaho, though the Trojans have had two lettermen from the state: defensive lineman John Grant, a 1972 All-American, and fullback Paul DiLulo (1978 and 1980). . . . USC is 7-0 against Idaho. All of the games were played in the 1920s, the most recent a 72-0 USC victory in 1929. . . . USC is 27-1 against current Western Athletic Conference teams, the only loss a defeat by Fresno State in the 1992 Freedom Bowl. . . . USC, which averaged a record 91,480 in home attendance last season, is expecting an 11th consecutive sellout tonight, school officials said.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

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