On the eve of the first practice of training camp, Aaron Corp sought counsel from former Trojans quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Mark Sanchez.
Both NFL players offered the sophomore quarterback the same advice.
“Take over,” Corp said they told him. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Corp got off to a solid, if unspectacular, start Saturday as the Trojans practiced for the first time in preparation for their Sept. 5 opener against San Jose State at the Coliseum.
Corp’s confidence began to grow after he finished spring practice No. 1 on the depth chart. It continued to bloom during summer team workouts without coaches.
“He’s taken over like he’s supposed to,” junior receiver Ronald Johnson said.
That confidence was on display Saturday.
“Aaron’s in the lead position and he came out and looked like he felt very comfortable with that,” Coach Pete Carroll said.
Freshman Matt Barkley and junior Mitch Mustain also performed well as the Trojans went through a 2 1/2 -hour workout without pads.
Barkley, No. 2 on the depth chart, made several impressive throws, including a long touchdown to freshman receiver De’Von Flournoy, but acknowledged that he is still learning the Trojans’ audible system and that he must refrain from trying to force passes.
Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates compared Barkley to Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, whom Bates tutored with the Denver Broncos.
“He’s a lot like Cutler -- every ball he thinks he can complete,” Bates said.
Carroll animatedly addressed Barkley after the freshman completed an ill-advised pass to tight end Anthony McCoy. The ball, delivered under heavy pressure, had been tipped by safety Will Harris and should have been intercepted.
"[Carroll] said ‘Don’t do that. Take a sack. Don’t even think about that,’ ” Barkley said, later adding, “I know I have a strong arm but you got to hold back sometimes because it can come back and bite you. I just have to realize that sometimes it’s not there.”
Offensive lineman Jeff Byers and safety Josh Pinkard chuckled when asked what it felt like to begin their sixth training camp with the Trojans.
Both players were granted an additional year of eligibility because of injuries.
“I can’t complain -- I love this place,” said Byers, who sat out most of last year’s camp while recovering from Rocky Mountain spotted fever. “I feel awesome right now. . . . I set myself up this summer to do great things in the fall.”
Telfort joins staff
Frankie Telfort, an incoming freshman linebacker who cannot play because of a heart condition, will serve as a “student coach,” Carroll said.
Telfort, from Miami, spent the morning walk-through helping linebackers coach Ken Norton direct freshman linebackers through the defense.
Under NCAA rules, a student coach is “any coach who is a student-athlete who has exhausted his or her eligibility in the sport or has become injured to the point that he or she is unable to practice or compete ever again.”
Among other criteria: Student coaches must be enrolled at the institution at which they participated in intercollegiate athletics. They cannot receive compensation or remuneration from the school other than the financial aid that could be received as a student-athlete. They cannot be involved in contacting and evaluating prospective student-athletes off campus or scouting opponents off campus.
Carroll, 57, uncharacteristically wore a cap during practice. Carroll said he donned it on the advice of doctors for protection from the sun. . . . Running back Joe McKnight broke off two long runs, one after catching a pass. . . . Among the new players that stood out for Carroll: Flournoy, defensive linemen Hebron Fangupo and Devon Kennard, linebacker Jarvis Jones and kicker/punter Jake Harfman . . . The Trojans practice today at 3 p.m.