USC Trojans: Kyle Negrete

Exit interview: Kyle Negrete

February, 26, 2013
Kyle NegreteJoe Andras/WeAreSC.comDespite earning his scholarship as a punter, former walk-on Kyle Negrete wasn't afraid to get physical on the field.
In his time on campus, perhaps no other player personified the Trojan ideal more than punter Kyle Negrete.

The grandson of former Fresno State coaching legend Jim Sweeney, Negrete transferred to USC as a walk-on in 2010 from the University of San Diego, where, in addition to his duties on special teams, he lined up at linebacker.

After spending his initial season as a Trojan redshirting on the scout team as a part-time fullback, the Fresno (Calif.) Clovis West product would go on to win the starting punting job in 2011 before being awarded a scholarship prior to the 2012 season. Averaging 42.7 yards per punt as a senior, he established himself as one of the team’s most reliable performers.

Off the field, Negrete made an even bigger impact in a charitable sense, all while achieving academic success inside the classroom, earning All-Pac-12 All-Academic honorable mention honors in both 2011 and 2012.

Negrete, who was awarded the John Wayne Scholarship for post-graduate work prior to this past season, took time out recently to look back on his career, while also giving us a glimpse into his future.

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3 up, 3 down: Hyundai Sun Bowl

January, 1, 2013
A look at the positives and negatives from USC’s 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the 2012 Hyundai Sun Bowl.


1. Hayes Pullard
The performance of Pullard, a sophomore linebacker, is one of the few positives that the Trojans can take away from the loss. Pacing the team with 16 tackles -- 10 in the first half -- he was easily the most active component of a Trojans defense that found some moderate success containing Georgia Tech’s vaunted triple-option offense.

2. Leonard Williams
Just a freshman, Williams was impressive, collecting 14 tackles -- a staggering number for a defensive tackle. Whether it was straight up the middle, going sideline to sideline, or tracking a ball carrier down from behind, he was all over the place.

3. T.J. McDonald
Just as he has throughout his entire career at USC, McDonald played with grit and determination, something that became a hallmark of his play as a Trojan long ago. On Monday, the senior safety was fast to the ball and made a number of ferocious hits, ultimately finishing with 13 stops in his final game in a cardinal and gold uniform.


1. USC team energy
Unfortunately, the Trojans came out and played exactly as many outside observers predicted -- uninspired and flat-out bored -- particularly on offense. Converting on just 3 of 15 third-downs and outgained 369-205, Lane Kiffin’s squad looked like it couldn’t wait to get home.

2. USC passing offense
To say that the Trojans’ passing game was woeful would be an understatement. Marqise Lee and Robert Woods were held to a combined nine receptions for 74 yards, and redshirt freshman quarterback Max Wittek was completely out of whack. Connecting on just 14 of 37 passes for 107 yards and one touchdown, he threw three crucial interceptions, including one inside the Yellow Jackets’ 10-yard line with just over a minute left that sealed the game for Georgia Tech.

3. USC special teams
Andre Heidari's missed 38-yard field goal didn’t help the Trojans’ cause, but that wasn’t the low point for John Baxter’s special-teams unit. That came in the third quarter, when the punt coverage unit overran a line drive Kyle Negrete boot that Georgia Tech’s Jamal Golden ultimately returned to the USC 1-yard line. Tevin Washington punched it into the end zone a few plays later, giving the Yellow Jackets a 14-7 lead.

Marqise Lee voted Pac-12 player of the year

November, 26, 2012
USC receiver Marqise Lee was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, conference representatives announced Monday.

In a vote of the conference's head coaches, Lee was chosen as the top offensive player. He also was the only sophomore in the conference unanimously selected to the Pac-12 first team this season, during which he totaled 112 catches, 1,680 yards and 14 receiving touchdowns.

One other Trojan, senior center Khaled Holmes, was selected as a first-teamer. Receiver Robert Woods, defensive end Morgan Breslin, cornerback Nickell Robey and safety T.J. McDonald were all second-team honorees, as was Lee as a return specialist.

Thirteen USC players earned honorable mention, with quarterback Matt Barkley, running back Silas Redd, tight end Xavier Grimble and offensive linemen Max Tuerk and John Martinez leading the way on offense.

Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Arizona's Matt Scott, two quarterbacks who beat Barkley this season, were named the Pac-12's first- and second-team signal-callers, respectively.

Barkley will leave USC having never been a first-team all-conference performer, which is remarkable considering the conference records he owns for all-time passing yards and touchdowns.

USC defensive linemen Leonard Williams, George Uko and Wes Horton and linebackers Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard received honorable mention.

Williams also was named the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, after recording a 7.5-sack, two-fumble-recovery season.

Kicker Andre Heidari, punter Kyle Negrete and reserve linebacker Tony Burnett rounded out USC's honorable-mention recipients on special teams.

Four Trojans earn Pac-12 academic honors

November, 20, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- USC center Khaled Holmes and quarterback Matt Barkley were named to the Pac-12 all-academic teams Tuesday.

Holmes, a fifth-year senior starting his final home game for the Trojans this weekend against No. 1 Notre Dame, earned a 3.31 GPA and is now pursuing a post-graduate degree at USC. He earned first-team honors; Barkley has registered a 3.21 GPA in his communications major and was named to the second team.

Two other Trojans, special-teams contributor Charles Burks and punter Kyle Negrete, earned honorable mention with GPAs over 3.0.

Football players have to post at least a 3.0 GPA and contribute to their teams to earn Pac-12 all-academic honors.

USC's four players on the 108-man list was the second-lowest in the conference. Oregon and Colorado each had 16 players earn academic honors, Utah had 14 and Stanford had 12.

Only Arizona State, with just one player, had fewer honorees than the Trojans.

Switching some numbers around

October, 25, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- Despite the controversy created by his jersey number switching scheme from last weekend's win over Colorado, USC coach Lane Kiffin left open the possibility this week of more moves like it in the future.

Kiffin and special teams coach John Baxter orchestrated an unusual swap for the Colorado game, having backup quarterback Cody Kessler wear No. 35 for the first half and switch back to his traditional No. 6 for the second half.

Why? So that he could come in as a holder on a point-after play and run a two-point play undetected. Kessler did that and scored against the Buffs, only to have the play called back on a penalty.

The usual No. 35, punter Kyle Negrete, is the third-string holder, behind quarterback Matt Barkley.

"Well, we change jerseys all the time," Kiffin said this week when asked about the move. "We'll change some more this week. Everything is within college rules."

He's correct. Kessler switching from No. 35 to No. 6 mid-game did not expressly violate any NCAA rules.

It did, however, qualify as an unethical practice, according to the official NCAA rulebook, which lists "changing numbers during the game to deceive the opponent" first in a list of eight such practices.

By dressing Kessler in a different number than normal, USC was attempting to deceive Colorado -- and, perhaps more important, its future opponents, who now have to prepare for all sorts of potential two-point plays.

Kessler first began holding for the Trojans earlier this month against Utah. Barkley had previously fulfilled all holding duties for the team.

Interestingly, USC also this week switched the numbers of four players who primarily play on special teams.

Receiver De'Von Flournoy went from No. 10 to No. 80, cornerback Ryan Henderson from No. 15 to No. 14, fullback Hunter Simmons from No. 46 to No. 42 and running back Robert Mojica from No. 27 to No. 40.

All four of the players' previous numbers had been shared with more prominent players.

Kiffin: Revisiting Colorado

October, 21, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- USC Trojans coach Lane Kiffin addressed the media in his normal day-after game conference call Sunday night, talking about his team's 50-6 win over Colorado and briefly looking ahead at the remaining five regular-season games.

Here are notes and quotes from the call:

Injury updates

Defensive end Devon Kennard (torn pec) will sit out the rest of the season and redshirt, Kiffin said.
Kennard will be a redshirt senior in 2013. He tore his pec in a July weight-lifting accident and previously said he had hopes of returning in November for a final NFL trial run.

Kiffin also provided updates on two other players, cornerback Brian Baucham and defensive tackle Cody Temple. Both players are out for the 2012 season, Baucham with a unspecified issue and Temple with an ankle injury.

Left tackle Aundrey Walker, who appeared to suffer a neck injury in the third quarter of Saturday's game, was released from the hospital Sunday after spending the night there.

Kiffin said Walker was back in meetings with the team Sunday. "Things seemed to be very positive," Kiffin said. "That's about all I'd be allowed to say."

Special-teams trickery

So the holder wearing No. 35 who took off running on the two-point play after USC's second touchdown in the first quarter?

That wasn't Kyle Negrete, USC's punter, who normally wears No. 35. That was Cody Kessler, third-string quarterback and recent new holder. Kiffin had Kessler sport No. 35 for the first half of Saturday's game -- presumably to run the fake kick -- and then switch back to No. 6 for the second half, when he came in the game in garbage time at quarterback and completed the first throws of his college career.

It's a legal move, but an ethically dubious one. Kessler was listed as the ballcarrier on the play in the postgame statistics, but he was not announced as such in the press box or over the PA.

It also opens the floodgates for many more potential shenanigans. If Kiffin tried that against Colorado, what might he try against Oregon? So much is suddenly in play.

Sunday, Kiffin deflected a question about who was the holder in the first half, saying, "I'd really rather not get into that at this time for certain reasons."

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Five storylines: USC at Washington 

October, 11, 2012
1. Status of the Trojans offense: So far this season the USC attack has yet to put together a crisp, complete performance and you know it would like to change that this week against the Huskies. The Washington defense has shown signs of improvement this season, particularly in pass defense, but it is still capable of giving up big numbers. UW is giving up only 173 yards per game in the air (No. 13 in the nation) but is allowing 178 yards per game on the ground (No. 77) and 26 points per game (No. 61).

2. Washington O-line against USC pass rush: It’s been a mixed bag for the Huskies this season along the offensive line, as injuries have hit hard and made it difficult to keep a cohesive unit in place for veteran quarterback Keith Price. The Trojans come to town with 17 sacks (No. 7 in the nation) and they will be looking to apply pressure throughout the game. Keep an eye in the middle of the USC D-line, as true freshman Leonard Williams has earned a starting spot with his recent good play.

3. The Negrete factor: Last year USC punter Kyle Negrete changed the tone of the game on a fake punt when he rambled for a first down, ending the play with a physical finish against the Washington defender. Negrete posted a message this week to his Twitter account, “still mad at myself for not scoring last year against UW”. Negrete might not score this year, but he could still have a big impact on the field position battle of the game. He is averaging over 44 yards per punt this season while Washington ranks last in the Pac-12 in punt returns at 4.5 yards per return.

Kiffin revisits Utah victory

October, 5, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- USC Trojans coach Lane Kiffin addressed the media in his normal day-after game conference call Friday night, discussing several topics pertaining to Thursday night's win over Utah and looking forward a bit to the Trojans' long week of practice before their next game at Washington.

Here are notes and quotes from the call:

Still no answers at corner

Kiffin has been looking for a solution at the second starting cornerback spot all season, but he said the Trojans aren't any closer to finding one after Thursday's game.

"No, we're not," Kiffin said Friday.

Torin Harris and Kevon Seymour were both burned on touchdown passes by the Utes, Harris flailing his arm well away from the pass in the end zone and Seymour getting out-positioned on another attempt downfield.

Kiffin did say he and his staff have discussed the possibility of moving safety Josh Shaw to corner to provide a different look -- a move he has steadfastly resisted so far this year.

Shaw has played well in limited snaps as a reserve safety this season and also looked good during his temporary switch to corner in fall camp.

He said in August that he prefers playing corner over safety.

More on Woods' situation

Receiver Robert Woods, who fell to the field in a scary moment in the first quarter of Thursday's game, is "fine," Kiffin said.

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Grades: USC-Cal

September, 22, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- The No. 13 USC Trojans rebounded after an upset loss to Stanford last week and topped Cal at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, 27-9. Here's a report card for the Trojans.

The numbers don't reflect it, but Matt Barkley actually had an all right game against the Bears. His first-quarter interception on an end-zone fade to Robert Woods didn't look like it was his fault, and his other pick came on an unlucky tipped pass. Still, his Heisman campaign is going to take another hit after this one.

Hey, look what happens when you commit to running the ball! Lane Kiffin consistently called run plays on Saturday, and Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal each rewarded his decisions, combining to flirt with 300 yards. This needs to happen every week going forward.

USC's defensive line is quickly becoming a strength. The Trojans' offensive line still needs a lot of work, but it's definitely improving. Having center Khaled Holmes on the field -- even though he clearly wasn't 100 percent -- helped a lot, and defensive end Morgan Breslin is already one of USC's best players.

Any time you can hold your opponent out of the end zone for 60 minutes, it's a good game. But, jeez, Cal quarterback Zach Maynard played pretty poorly in this one. There were several occasions when USC's defense left Bears receivers wide open and Maynard failed to capitalize.

Not punter Kyle Negrete's best day, and USC's kick coverage unit continued to commit penalties at a prolific rate. How good is Andre Heidari? He missed the past two games because of an injury but looked as good as always on his two converted field goal attempts Saturday.

Could the Trojans have won this game without the services of Holmes? It seems as if they could've, and it might have been a good idea to hold Holmes out for this one to ensure his health for the rest of this year. Kiffin does deserve some credit for preventing a drop-off after last week's upset.

Big night from USC special teams 

September, 9, 2012
You won’t find a more well-rounded special teams performance than the one put together by the Trojans on Saturday night and they did it without the services of All Pac-12 placekicker Andre Heidari, who stayed home due to a knee injury.

Heidari’s replacements were walk-ons Craig McMahon for kickoffs and Alex Wood for extra points. McMahon hit three kickoffs into the end zone and didn’t allow a return past the 25-yard line. Wood – a true freshman – was successful on all six of his extra point attempts.

Kyle Negrete averaged 50-yards per punt on three punts, including a key 65-yard punt and roll that changed the field position of the game at the time. There was also good coverage play with big hits by Tony Burnett and Soma Vainuku.

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Grades: USC-Syracuse

September, 8, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The No. 2 USC Trojans fought through an hour-long severe weather delay to top Syracuse, 42-29, at MetLife Stadium on Saturday. Here's a report card for how the Trojans performed in their second game of the 2012 season:

It might've been the sneakiest six-touchdown game in history. This wasn't A-quality work from Matt Barkley, and that shows how high expectations for him this season. He had a nice streak going in the second and third quarters, but that was ruined by a bad deep throw to Robert Woods that was picked off.

This was a significant improvement over Week 1, but, still, that's the best USC could do? Silas Redd and Curtis McNeal, two 1,000-yard rushers in 2011, gained more than six per rush, but they got only a combined 25 carries. Maybe some run calls could've replaced those boring bubble screens.

USC's offensive line was downright poor for much of this game, as evidenced by Lane Kiffin's repeated avoidance of anything that required Barkley to stay in the pocket for more than three seconds. But the Trojans' defensive line played well for the second straight game, even though two key ends were out in the second half.

Considering Syracuse put up 41 points a week ago, USC did OK to hold the Orange to 29 points Saturday. Dion Bailey and Morgan Breslin were difference-makers all game, but the Trojans' defensive backs were not. Monte Kiffin really needs to find a suitable second corner sometime soon.

Kyle Negrete averaged 50 yards on his three punts and downed all three inside the 20-yard line -- that's elite punting. Woods boosted the Trojans with a big second-half punt return, and walk-on kicker Alex Wood knocked down all five of his point-after attempts. This unit really helped USC today.

Lane Kiffin's playcalling was clearly not at its best, but he did enough in the fourth quarter to get things going. USC had its players take their pads off during the 70-minute delay, and that appeared to help keep them fresh late in the game. And he didn't go for two at all.

Syracuse Wednesday for Trojans

September, 5, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- It was a surprisingly overcast morning during Trojans’ practice on what USC head coach Lane Kiffin called “Syracuse Wednesday.”

“An up and down day today for us,” Kiffin said. “I thought the defense came out and played a lot better than yesterday, until the end. So we’ll go back and look at the film. We have lot of work to do.”

Practice started out on an upbeat tone as Kiffin tossed the ball over to various players during warmups, while Kyle Negrete boomed some punts off to the side with some impressive hang-time.

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Trojans head to Haiti

May, 12, 2012
The USC Trojans are on their way to Haiti.

A group of USC football players -- several of whom took part in graduation ceremonies on Friday -- departed from Los Angeles last night for Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. before connecting on a flight bound for the Caribbean country.

The purpose of the trip is to build houses in an area of the country which was severely damaged by an earthquake in 2010. The USC contingent will be in Leogane and Sous Savanne, where they will also visit orphanages and provide supplies that have been donated for the trip.

Among the USC players participating are Matt Barkley, Khaled Holmes, Kyle Negrete, T.J. McDonald, Hayes Pullard, Nickell Robey, Scott Starr, Devon Kennard, Dion Bailey, Robert Woods, Max Wittek, Cody Kessler, Cyrus Hobbi, Kevin Greene, Joshua Shaw and Luke Freeman. The trip was organized in part by Barkley’s father, Les, who will also be on the trip along with the rest of the Barkley family.

Les Barkley had been part of a relief effort to Haiti after the earthquake and worked with a disaster relief organization, Hope Force International, to arrange for the current trip.

The group will return to Los Angeles May 16. For a photo of the group click here.

Spring game: In-progress notebook 

April, 14, 2012
WeAreSC's Erik McKinney is at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and will be providing updates throughout today's USC Trojans spring football game:

12:46 p.m. PT: The gates are open

Weather might be affecting spring games across the country, but Friday's downpour has broken and the sun is shining on the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for USC's spring game. The gates are open, and the south stands are filling with cardinal-and-gold-clad fans.

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USC quarterback Matt Barkley is set to make a Heisman run this fall. But before that takes place, he’ll make a humanitarian run this spring, as he -- along with his family and 15 USC teammates -- will travel to Haiti on May 14 as part of Hope Force International. The group will spend five days building houses and transporting more than 2,000 pounds of supplies for orphanages and schools to help in Haiti’s ongoing recovery from a catastrophic earthquake in 2010.

The group will include Barkley, Dion Bailey, Luke Freeman, Kevin Greene, Cyrus Hobbi, Khaled Holmes, Devon Kennard, Cody Kessler, T.J. McDonald, Kyle Negrete, Hayes Pullard, Nickell Robey, Josh Shaw, Scott Starr, Max Wittek and Robert Woods. This will be Barkley’s second trip of this kind, as he and his family -- along with Negrete --spent 11 days in Jos, Nigeria, in December 2010, delivering supplies, toys and hygiene kits to the community.

Barkley’s father, Les, traveled to Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, which established some contacts and made it the choice when it came time to pick a location.

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