Why ASU football's Southern California natives are eager for USC matchup

Many Sun Devils from the area look forward to playing close to their hometowns, despite their families not being able to attend

For ASU redshirt sophomore wide receiver Geordon Porter, facing USC brings a different level of anticipation. 

Porter grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and played high school ball at Etiwanda High School, which is over 50 miles from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, USC's home field. Both of his parents were Trojans, with his father running track at the school.

The caveat is that Porter won’t get to take the field in front of his family. The Pac-12 will not permit fans into football games this year. The conference made an exception for family members of players to attend games, but California is not allowing spectators of any capacity into sporting events. 

“The fans make a difference, but the excitement hasn’t changed," Porter said. "We’re going to try to go out and win in that coliseum.” 

READ MORE: Pac-12 to allow family members to attend football games this season

Porter did not see the field as a true freshman in 2018, the last time ASU played at USC. So when the Sun Devils open the 2020 season at the Coliseum, Porter is looking forward to taking the field. 

“It's probably going to be a big deal,” Porter said. “Both my parents went there. That's the one we always look forward to.”

Being one of many players on ASU's roster from Southern California, Porter is not the only one excited to play close to his hometown.

ASU sophomore quarterback Jayden Daniels is from San Bernardino, about an hour-long drive away from USC. He missed last year's meeting against the Trojans due to a knee injury, the only game he missed last year. 

Daniels has been looking forward to taking the field at the Coliseum for years, something he’s bonded with his father over. 

“I know it’ll be a surreal feeling, although it's a bummer there are not going to be any fans there so my family can experience the moment too,” Daniels said. “But, growing up in Southern California, there was always USC fans. Going to the Coliseum in high school, watching games, it's different going as the opposing team in that stadium, something that my dad and I talked about before.”

Perhaps no one on ASU showed more emotion about playing in Los Angeles Week 1 than junior safety Aashari Crosswell. At a press conference on Tuesday, Crosswell showed up in a Los Angeles Dodgers cap ahead of Game 6 of the World Series, adding that he “couldn't describe” how excited he was to play USC.

The junior said he played with a lot of current Trojans while growing up in the Los Angeles area and playing for Long Beach Polytechnic High School, just over 20 miles from USC. He’s even started to smack talk with some of his friends. 

He specifically mentioned USC junior wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, adding he grew up with him and that "we’re not trying to have (him) get 230 yards with two touchdowns" in the upcoming game. 

Crosswell noted that he respects the talent the Trojans have and is making sure his defense is prepared for a high-powered offense. 

“We’re not trying to give up big plays,” Crosswell said. “I got love for all the ‘SC dudes. I know what they’re about."

While others are eager to face old friends or step onto a field they’ve admired, junior linebacker and captain Darien Butler has another reason to look forward to facing the Trojans. 

He went to high school at Narbonne, less than 20 miles from USC, and hasn’t forgotten being ignored by USC during his recruitment process. 

“It's always good to go back home and put on a show,” Butler said. “I always come into the game a little mad. Schools like that close to home missed out on me.”

While junior defensive lineman Jermayne Lole shared no unique reason as to why he is excited go back to Southern California, his feelings for Week 1 capture the anticipation of the entire team.

“It’s not so much circled on my calendar, but lots of guys on the team are from Southern California or have ties to USC and coaches, too,” Lole said. “I just feel like it's a big game, everybody is looking forward to it. 

“It's the first game back, so everyone has been itching to play.”

Reach the reporter at alexjweiner@gmail.com and follow @alexjweiner on Twitter.

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