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USC FYI

USC's Aaron Corp says he's ready to go after good practice

The quarterback finishes his first complete, full-speed practice since hurting his leg earlier this month. Initial success add another layer of intrigue to drama, with Matt Barkley in competition.

August 26, 2009|Gary Klein

USC's season opener against San Jose State is not until Sept. 5, but quarterback Aaron Corp proclaimed Tuesday that he was ready to play now.

After completing an entire full-speed practice for the first time since suffering a leg injury more than two weeks ago, Corp said he could play in a game today.

"I can do everything right now that playing quarterback at USC [requires] me to do," said Corp, who was No. 1 on the depth chart entering training camp. "I feel good and it's only going to get better."

Corp's initial success in his return from a cracked left fibula adds another layer of intrigue to a quarterback drama that began when Mark Sanchez departed to the NFL in January.

Corp, wearing a custom brace on his left leg, worked primarily with reserves as freshman Matt Barkley took most of the first-team snaps.

Corp did not appear limited in his mobility and completed the vast majority of his passes during seven-on-seven and full-team scrimmage drills. He did not have a pass intercepted.

"I was able to do some good things," he said. "I even got a quarterback sneak in at the end."

Coach Pete Carroll described Corp's return as "a big step forward," but reiterated that there was no timetable for deciding who would start the opener.

However, Saturday's mock game at the Coliseum looms as Corp's final proving ground.

"He'll get a chance all the way to Saturday to show where he sits," Carroll said. "That's a very important opportunity for him to show his stuff."

It also will be for Barkley, who is bidding to become the first true freshman quarterback to start an opener for the Trojans.

Barkley made some impressive throws Tuesday, but two others were intercepted.

Safety Drew McAllister got the first on a pass over the middle during a seven-on-seven drill. Then, during a full-team scrimmage drill, defensive end Everson Griffen leaped high and grabbed a screen pass.

Asked whether he felt a greater sense of urgency to play well because of Corp's return, Barkley said, "Not really, but at the same time him out here kind of does challenge me a little more.

"It makes me try to play harder, but I didn't feel any more pressure because he's out here."

Congdon the kicker

Jordan Congdon will be the starting kicker for field-goal and extra-point attempts in the opener.

Congdon, a fifth-year senior walk-on who had transferred from Nebraska, beat out junior walk-on Joe Houston and junior college transfer Jake Harfman.

Harfman will handle kick-offs and also is competing with Billy O'Malley to be the punter.

Congdon made 19 of 23 field-goal attempts for Nebraska in 2005. He was five of seven in 2006.

"Hopefully it will help me in games," he said of his experience. "I'll go in there with more confidence than maybe a guy that didn't have all the reps in games."

Congdon expects that Houston will continue to push him.

"He's going to be there all season and if I'm not doing my job, I know they're not going have any problem putting him in," he said.

Congdon and junior defensive back Rob Erickson were awarded scholarships.

Quick hits

Receiver Damian Williams returned after missing most of last week because of a bruised quadriceps. . . . Tight end Blake Ayles, who underwent a procedure last week to treat a heart arrhythmia, attended practice and said he would return to workouts today. . . . Former UCLA and NBA star Jamaal Wilkes and actor Will Ferrell attended practice. . . . USC and the Los Angeles Sports Council Foundation are accepting contributions for their annual Touchdown for Youth program. The program will provide tickets for as many as 2,000 economically disadvantaged children for the season opener against San Jose State at the Coliseum. A $30 tax-deductible contribution provides a ticket and refreshments for one child. Information (213) 482-6333. . . . The Trojans practice today at 4 p.m.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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