Negrete earning his spot at USC 

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
7:31
AM PT
USC walk-on punter Kyle Negrete may have surprised Trojans fans when he grabbed the starting position last spring and held onto it, despite a push from scholarship freshman Kris Albarado in the fall. But to those who had the best view in watching it unfold -- namely, special teams coordinator John Baxter -- earning the role was hardly a shock.

Baxter knows Negrete dating back to the redshirt junior's high school career at Fresno Clovis West, when Negrete racked up 105 tackles and eight interceptions as a senior linebacker to go along with a 46.7-yard punting average. Baxter was serving as an assistant coach at nearby Fresno State. Several years later, the two were joined at USC and clicked immediately -- Negrete buying into everything Baxter was looking for on special teams, and Baxter realizing who Negrete has become.

"He's completely taken advantage of his opportunity of being at USC," Baxter said of his punter. "The bottom line is he's productive as a player. He's a great leader. He's a great teammate. He's a great friend. He's a great example."