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Time for USC linebacker Anthony Sarao to speak up on defense

Time for USC linebacker Anthony Sarao to speak up on defense
USC linebacker Anthony Sarao, right, tackles Utah receiver Dres Anderson last October. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Spend a few minutes talking to linebacker Anthony Sarao, and it's easy to see, he brings a flair of New Jersey personality to the USC football team.

That personality just hasn't quite been shown on the field, yet.

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"It's coming out more," said Sarao, a fifth-year senior from Atlantic City. "You got to be a vocal leader now."

Sarao will start at inside linebacker for a third season, but it will be his first playing without linebacker Hayes Pullard, who was a two-time captain in his five seasons at USC.

Trojans Coach Steve Sarkisian said Sarao has stepped into a leadership role on the defense, a skill Sarao said he learned from Pullard and former safety T.J. McDonald.

"Hayes passed it down to me, T.J. passed it down to Hayes, so it is just tradition. It's the standard at 'SC," Sarao said. "You got to get out here and set the standard, show the example, so it's not the time to be out here hiding or being quiet."

USC added four freshmen to the position group this fall and returns five other linebackers with starting experience.

Sarao intercepted two passes and returned one for a touchdown during the 2014 season.

USC opens the season Sept. 5 against Arkansas State.

Questions or comments about USC? Email me at LNThiry@gmail.com or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will respond to select messages in a weekly USC Now mailbag. 

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