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USC receiver Darreus Rogers gets his No. 1 wish, and keeps working

USCSportsFootballSteve SarkisianLane Kiffin
Receiver Darreus Rogers is off to a strong start at USC training camp after working to earn the No. 1 jersey

USC receiver Darreus Rogers made only one inquiry — and then he went to work.

Former coach Lane Kiffin declared in 2010 that no player would wear Nos. 1 or 43 until they demonstrated they were worthy of donning the numbers worn by All-American receiver Mike Williams and safety Troy Polamalu, respectively.

Before spring practice under new Coach Steve Sarkisian, Rogers requested changing his jersey number from 84 to 1. The sophomore said he was told to go out and compete for it.

"I asked them once, didn't remind them and then by the end of spring, the next thing you know, my number was changed to 1 on my locker," Rogers said Wednesday. "It was a big relief. I got to check it off my goal list.

"But the grind doesn't stop."

Rogers caught 22 passes last season. He is off to a solid start in training camp and could start opposite Nelson Agholor when the Trojans open against Fresno State on Aug. 30 at the Coliseum.

Rogers is part of a receiving corps that also includes juniors George Farmer and Victor Blackwell, redshirt freshman Steven Mitchell and freshmen JuJu Smith, Ajene Harris, Rahshead Johnson and Adoree' Jackson, who has played mainly at cornerback.

Rogers said coaches told him there was history connected to No. 1 at USC. Williams is the only Trojans All-American to wear it.

"I'm coming out here to keep the story going," Rogers said.

Getting physical

Linebacker Anthony Sarao smiled broadly Wednesday's after the Trojans practiced in shoulder pads for the first time.

The Trojans were not allowed to tackle. But there was still plenty of contact.

"Without the shoulder pads, there's a lot of talk," Sarao said, referring to the previous two days of practice. "Guys were saying, 'If you had shoulder pads on, I would have got you.'

"So a lot of problems got solved."

The Trojans will be in shoulder pads again Thursday and do live tackling Friday when they are in full pads for the first time.

Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox echoed Sarkisian about the need to practice tackling with a plan.

NCAA sanctions are over but roster depth will remain an issue. So tackling drills will be conducted in several settings.

"There's a fine line of doing it too much," Wilcox said. "It's a fluid situation."

Wilcox has been encouraged by the defense's performance through three days of training camp.

Jackson has impressed at cornerback, but Wilcox said no decision had been made about whether the freshman will play mainly on defense or on offense.

"We're going to do what's best for our team and Adoree'," Wilcox said.

Quick hits

The Trojans spent an extended period working on special teams. Punter Kris Albarado had several long kicks. Sarkisian said the junior would be first-team all-conference if he performs similarly in games. "He's nailing the ball with distance, he's got great hang time and he's hitting it exactly where we want it to go from a coverage standpoint," Sarkisian said …. New kicker Matt Boermeester had another solid day, while returning kicker Andre Heidari struggled. "For Andre, it's really clearly to see three days into training camp, we got to find a way to get him more consistent mentally so that he can be consistent physically," Sarkisian said…. Cornerback Kevon Seymour, who sat out the first two days while recovering from a stomach ailment, participated in light drills at the start of practice. Safety Su'a Cravens (strep throat) also was limited to a few light drills. Freshman tight end Bryce Dixon did not finish practice because of cramps…. The Trojans will practice Thursday at the Coliseum. The workout is closed to the public.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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USCSportsFootballSteve SarkisianLane Kiffin
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