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COLLEGE FOOTBALL DAILY REPORT : USC : His Graduation Night Proved Painful

Freshman quarterback Oscar Casillas probably still has nightmares about his graduation from St. Monica High in Santa Monica on June 6.

Casillas, who said he isn’t a gang member, was leaving a graduation party in Venice in the early morning hours of June 7 when a group of gang members opened fire with an assault rifle, hitting him in the right leg. Four others were also wounded.

“I didn’t even know that I’d been shot for about 10-15 minutes,” Casillas said. “I saw a rip in my jeans and five minutes later I felt my leg totally tense up. I tried walking and just fell to the ground. We were just in the wrong place.

“Actually they came twice. They came once and two guys were hit. Everyone was on the ground hiding behind parked cars. I was fine.”

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But he was wounded when gang members opened fire from another car.

“We were going to my friend’s truck across the street and another car came by and they started shooting again,” he said.

Casillas was treated and released from a local hospital. He still has a bullet in his thigh. The other wound was superficial.

“They said it wouldn’t give me any problems and that it would be more dangerous to take it out,” he said.

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Casillas pitched two innings in a high school all-star baseball game four days later.

“The first three days I couldn’t really walk that well, but it was more of a muscle that was strained,” he said.

Casillas, who had a 4.8 grade-point average in high school, is attending USC on a full academic scholarship and plans to play baseball for the Trojans.

Although he passed for 1,800 yards and 22 touchdowns to lead St. Monica to an 8-3 record last season, he was lightly recruited, receiving scholarship offers only from Northern Illinois and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

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“I was pretty sure I was going to be (playing) baseball, but I knew they were short of quarterbacks for practice and I talked to Coach (Mike) Riley (offensive coordinator) and he said I’d be welcome to come out. It’s going to take a lot of work to play at this level.”

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USC, which had the toughest-rated schedule in the nation in 1992 and the fourth-toughest last season, will play the most difficult schedule in the nation again this year, according to USA Today.

USC will play five teams that went to bowl games last season--Notre Dame, Penn State, UCLA, Arizona and California.

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