USC legend Keyshawn Johnson implores team to play for Clay Helton

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Clay Helton for USC.

That’s the rally cry that former USC All-American receiver Keyshawn Johnson delivered to the Trojans football team after Thursday’s practice.

“You all want him to be the head coach of the future?” Johnson asked. “It’s up to you, because I know he wants to be the head coach.”

Athletic Director Pat Haden appointed Helton as interim coach after the firing of Steve Sarkisian. Helton also served as interim coach in USC’s 2013 Las Vegas Bowl victory.


“It is very humbling when you have [former players] out here and they see what you do and they respect you enough to be able to say those words,” Helton said.

USC is 3-2 and plays 14th-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday.

Johnson said players would need to perform, “with the world watching” against Notre Dame, in order to help Helton’s future.

“If you respond positively, they say nothing. If you respond negatively, all you’re gonna hear is ‘He’s not the guy. Get him out of here,” Johnson said. “... Enough of that. This is your opportunity to make him the coach. It’s your opportunity and it starts Saturday.”

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