Turner takes leadership role with receivers

Times Staff Writer

USC receiver Patrick Turner aggressively stations himself at the front of the line for every drill, symbolizing his new status for the Trojans.

The rangy junior from Tennessee is the leader and most experienced member of a USC receiving corps that is under the microscope after the departures of Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith to the NFL.

On Tuesday, with former USC and NFL receiver Curtis Conway keenly eyeing them from the sideline, Trojans receivers took another small step in preparation for the Sept. 1 opener against Idaho.


“It’s cool to have a guy like Curtis Conway come back,” said Turner, who caught 29 passes last season. “He’ll tell us some tips.”

Turner and sophomore Vidal Hazelton began training camp as starters.

Hazelton impressed early in training camp last year, but struggled with the complexities of the offense and caught only one pass during the season.

“It’s a lot easier than last year,” he said. “I can just go out and play more instead of, ‘Oh, I’m a freshman. What do I have to do?’ And being worried about doing the wrong thing.

“It’s more fun now.”

Redshirt freshman David Ausberry, sophomore Travon Patterson and freshman Ronald Johnson also have made noteworthy catches during the Trojans’ first two workouts.

Drew Radovich remains out because of a back injury, putting sophomores Charles Brown and Thomas Herring in a battle to possibly start at right tackle.


The 6-foot-6, 290-pound Brown said extra work with All-American left tackle Sam Baker during the summer is paying off.

“After working out in the weight room, we’d come out on the field together and work on pass-sets,” Brown said.

“I knew I might have an opportunity, and so far so good.”

Coach Pete Carroll continued to praise the multipurpose talents of freshman running back Joe McKnight.

“We haven’t found anything he doesn’t look good at right now,” Carroll said.

Carroll is reserving judgment on at least one aspect.

“He hasn’t done any blocking yet to speak of so we don’t have much a gauge on that until we get our pads on,” Carroll said.

USC practices in full pads for the first time Friday.

Carroll spoke with NCAA officials on Tuesday in regard to remedying certain situations in which incoming freshmen are not allowed to practice because of academic certification issues.

All incoming athletes are required to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse, which processes transcripts and other academic information.

Freshmen running backs Marc Tyler and Broderick Green and freshman receiver Brandon Carswell have not practiced because of Clearinghouse issues.

Carroll said he suggested to NCAA officials a 14-day grace period that would allow athletes to practice while completed paperwork is processed.

“There are probably a lot of guys across the country who are suffering,” Carroll said. “I’m not talking about situations where the Clearinghouse has not received everything. It’s not a matter of their stuff not being there, it’s a matter of having to sit out while it’s waiting to be evaluated.”

Senior receiver Brad Walker and junior punter Greg Woidneck were awarded scholarships. . . . Trey Henderson, a freshman defensive lineman from Vancouver, Canada, suffered a knee injury and will need surgery, Carroll said.