USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: THOMAS GETS HIS DIPLOMA.
USC cornerback Terrell Thomas plays his final game in the Rose Bowl, but he completed another milestone last week, when he officially earned his bachelor's degree.
Thomas laughed that athletic director Mike Garrett frequently lectured his class about academics following a rough early start.
"It wasn't looking too good for us. Mike Garrett said we were the most athletic class but also said, 'You suck in school,'" Thomas said. "We were knuckleheads. But we turned out to be the best class. Jody (Adewale) is getting his master' s. Lawrence (Jackson) is getting his degree. Sedrick (Ellis) too.
"We work hard, we do our school work, we have fun. To be an 'SC alum, I'm very proud of that."
Meanwhile, USC coach Pete Carroll said every player would be eligible for the Rose Bowl. That does not mean there are no academic issues. Because the spring semester starts a week later than normal (Jan. 14), grades will not be processed until after the Rose Bowl.
Wide receiver Patrick Turner decided not to practice, although doctors cleared him after examining his bruised thigh.
"He's not looking good," Carroll said of Turner. "He's got to get in the game plans. He did see the doctors, but it's up to him."
Turner said he would probably practice today.
"I'll be cool," Turner said. "I've got to practice (today)."
Without Turner, freshmen Ronald Johnson and David Ausberry would share a wide-receiver spot.
Freshman quarterback Aaron Corp has given the defense a challenge this week while running Illinois' spread offense with the scout team.
Corp ran a similar offense at Orange Lutheran High School.
"Aaron's been great this week," Carroll said. "At times he's too good. It's hard to defend him."
Does Illinois matter?
Defensive end Lawrence Jackson on playing someone besides Michigan in the Rose Bowl: "It doesn't matter, because at the end of the day you're just going to remember the color of the jersey that the other team was wearing," he said. "There really isn't anything cool about facing a new team."
USC players attended a show at the Improv comedy club Friday night.
Some were getting restless about some of the same bowl field trips for the third straight year.
"Well, at least staying in Santa Monica last week was different," Jackson said.
Tonight, USC players will attend half of the Trojans' basketball game against UC Riverside.
Back in town
Freshman tailback Marc Tyler spent last weekend with his close friend and former Oaks Christian High School teammate, Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
"His take is they had a lot of young guys playing at the end of the year, so they will be better (next season)," Tyler said.
And what was Tyler's take?
"Knowing him, it was hard for him," Tyler said. "He's used to winning and not getting hit that hard. He only got hit twice that I can remember in high school."
USC tailback Marc Tyler spent last weekend with high school teammate Jimmy Clausen.
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