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Starr eager to meet Pac-12 quarterbacks

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Lisa Horne

Lisa Horne is entering her fifth year as a correspondent for FOXSports.com. She is a member of the Football Writers of America Association (FWAA) and a frequent guest on sports radio shows. Follow her on Twitter.

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LOS ANGELES

Scott Starr really dislikes quarterbacks.

A true freshman linebacker at USC, Starr is somewhat quiet when asked about certain topics — but not when it comes to quarterbacks.

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"I don't like them," he says. Then he pauses and adds, "Except for ours … Cody Kessler is my best friend."

Wearing a prominent metal cross necklace around his neck, Starr is very spiritual and compassionate — he wants to go to Haiti this summer and build homes for the homeless — but he's not as outspoken about his faith as you-know-who.

"Tim Tebow is a role model for everyone," he says, [but] I'm quieter when it comes to that stuff."

Starr appears to defy the stereotypical linebacker mentality of "badass." Starr's Twitter account, surprisingly, is EvilScottStarr3.

"I like to watch war movies, like '300', because it jacks me up," he admits. "I'm nice and quiet when I walk around campus.

"But when I'm on the field … I'm mean."

Like the legendary Trojan Horse in the Trojan War, Starr can surprise you. He's almost an enigma.

A prototype linebacker, Starr is 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, although he's working on getting his weight up to 230. He was a highly touted prospect coming out of Norco (Calif.) High School, where he was named to USA Today's All-USA first team and tabbed a Super Prep All-American and Prep Star All-American.


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His 3.3 G.P.A. and Scout.com's No. 3 position ranking at linebacker made him a national target.

Starr was recruited by most of the Pac-12 schools as well as some SEC schools like Alabama, Florida and Vanderbilt. But he always wanted to play at USC.

"I grew up a Trojans fan," says Starr, whose father, Jason Felix, played linebacker at Kansas State. "In the beginning, Alabama and Florida recruited me, but once they knew I was coming here, schools kind of backed off."

Starr notes that during his recruitment, none of the USC coaches guaranteed him playing time in his freshman year.

"All of the other schools did, except USC," he says.

Starr will be playing middle linebacker, with emphasis on covering the running back.

"Running backs are easier to cover because they're in the backfield and we don't have to run side-to-side to cover them," he explains.

Still, he admits that the position is challenging.

"I've never really played (middle linebacker) before … it's more difficult."

Starr will have to impress new USC linebackers coach Scottie Hazleton — who recently replaced Joe Barry, who's now coaching linebackers with the San Diego Chargers.


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Like everybody else on the USC team, there's always a chance for Starr to nab a starting spot, but he'll have some heavy competition. Two linebackers from the 2011 squad, Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard, were named to Freshman All-American first team.

"I don't want to be handed anything," Starr says. "But I get mad when I hear the word 'backup,' because I've never been a backup before."

Starr then pauses, ostensibly inner-channeling his "nice guy."

"I'm pretty sure nobody here has ever been a backup [in high school] either," he concedes.

Although USC has been nicknamed "Tailback U" by most football analysts, Starr thinks of USC as "Linebacker U," and he wants to be included in the conversation of great former Trojans linebackers, many of whom wore the revered No. 55 jersey.

"[It's] legendary," said Starr of the jersey, which is awarded to the linebacker the coaches feel should be a future NFL star. Sophomore linebacker Lamar Dawson currently wears No. 55.

Starr says his focus is "getting the playbook down" and that eventually he will be brought in on specific plays as a pass rusher, which suits him just fine. He says his best quality as a player is a pass rusher, because, well, he hates quarterbacks.

"I don't want to really hurt anybody," Starr says — but he would like to "cause them pain."

Besides "getting bigger, faster and stronger" Starr wants to excel off the field as well. After a few months on campus, he's starting to feel more comfortable. He enrolled at USC in January as an early enrollee due to an early high-school graduation, and is aiming for a degree in broadcast journalism. His eventual goal is to become a sportscaster.

"I was a little nervous at first," Starr says, reflecting on his first days on campus. "But it's everything I could ask for."

Even the girls at USC have impressed him. "They're beautiful… it's like a different breed here," he sighs.

Thoughts on UCLA?

"No comment," says the 18-year-old.

Thoughts on the SEC?

"They're legit," Starr says emphatically.

Starr and his teammates may get a chance to square off against the SEC champs in the BCS Championship Game — USC already is getting a lot of preseason media hype. The Trojans are off postseason probation and quarterback Matt Barkley's heralded return makes the prospect of an USC vs. SEC title bout more plausible.

"Until I saw him [on television] coming back, I didn't want to celebrate," Starr says. But once Barkley made the announcement, Starr was pumped.

"This year should be very special for us," Starr says.

Tagged: USC

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