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USC's Marcus Martin to become available for NFL draft

The center is the second Trojans player to announce he will go pro. USC's coaching staff remains in transition as special teams coach John Baxter has been told he will not be retained.

December 27, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • Offensive lineman Marcus Martin (66) is a three-year starter for USC, two at guard and this season at center.
Offensive lineman Marcus Martin (66) is a three-year starter for USC, two… (Damian Dovarganes / Associated…)

USC center Marcus Martin announced Friday that he would forgo his final season of eligibility and make himself available for the NFL draft.

"Thank you Trojan Family for all that you've done for me!" Martin wrote on his Twitter feed. "This will be a season I will never forget as long as I live and I wanna thank the coaches my teammates and the fans for all that we've endured as a family! I am and always be a Trojan for life"

Martin, who played at Crenshaw High, started two seasons at guard before moving to center this season.

Martin suffered knee and ankle injuries in the regular-season finale against UCLA and did not play in the Trojans' 42-20 victory over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Cyrus Hobbi is the only returning center. Max Tuerk, who has started at tackle and guard, worked at center last spring.

Martin is the second USC player to announce he will turn pro, joining safety Dion Bailey.

Receiver Marqise Lee, who is projected as a possible first-round draft pick, is expected to announce he will make himself available for the draft.

Linebacker Hayes Pullard, defensive back Josh Shaw, defensive lineman George Uko, offensive lineman Aundrey Walker and tailback Javorius Allen are among other players eligible for the draft.

Meanwhile, USC's coaching staff remains in transition.

John Baxter, special teams coach the last four seasons, said he was told by new Coach Steve Sarkisian that he would not be part of his Trojans staff.

"I'm proud of the work we've done collectively and proud of the work I've done at USC," Baxter said. "I enjoyed every day working there. I'm proud of what was accomplished on the field and academically."

Baxter, who coached for 13 seasons at Fresno State before coming to USC, was responsible for implementing an academic program designed to help players stay on track toward graduation.

In a meeting with Sarkisian and Athletic Director Pat Haden before the Las Vegas Bowl, several parents of Trojans players expressed support for retaining Baxter.

USC ranked second nationally in blocked punts and fourth in blocked kicks this season.

Sarkisian is expected to complete his staff in the next few weeks.

He has hired three coaches from his Washington staff — Johnny Nansen, Keith Heyward and Peter Sirmon — and said he would retain offensive coordinator Clay Helton and receivers coach Tee Martin.

Nansen has coached special teams, defensive line and running backs. Sarkisian has not announced what he will be responsible for with the Trojans.

Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox could be hired as defensive coordinator. The Huskies played Brigham Young in the Fight Hunger Bowl on Friday night.

Sarkisian also initially targeted Washington defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi. But the NCAA is investigating allegations that Lupoi paid for private tutoring and online courses for 2013 Washington recruit Andrew Basham, who did not qualify academically to enroll.

Lupoi has denied violating NCAA rules in the recruitment of Basham.

If the allegations are found to be true, Sarkisian could face penalties, including suspension, unless he can prove he promoted an atmosphere of compliance and monitored his staff.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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