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May 12, 2008Blake Ayles traveled north more than once this spring to watch the USC football team practice.
It wasn't his favorite thing to do.
See, Ayles isn't one for watching. He's more of a doer.
"It's kind of boring not being involved. It just makes me want to be out there." Ayles said. "I feel like I should be out there, and I should be one of the guys to compete. I just want to get up there and start working hard."
The four-star tight end from Orange (Calif.) Lutheran is not afraid of hard work. Instead of spending his spring relaxing, Ayles has been on the track.
Ayles have participated in track for all four years of high school, starring while throwing the discus. This year, he also ran the 100-meter dash and the 4x100 relay.
"It's just the lifting really that helps out the most. It's a lot better having track," he said. "It gives you time to relax and rebuild that drive to play football again.
"It's nice to get a break from football for a little bit, but I want to get back out there."
He should have his chance this summer. With the graduation of Fred Davis, the Trojans' top receiver in 2007, Ayles said he's ready to compete for time right away.
Rivals.com has Ayles as the second-rated tight end in the 2008 recruiting class.
"I'm just going in there with the mindset of trying to get big and learn as much as possible right away," Ayles said. "(Anthony) McCoy's looking good, Jimmy Miller's looking good and so is Rhett (Ellison).
"It's going to be fun. I'm just going to try and compete and get some playing time and some special teams work in this year."
Ayles said he's hoping to continue working on his hands (which rank as third best for tight ends in 2008) and blocking.
He also has some studying to do.
"I got the playbook," he said. "That thing's massive. It's like 800 pages."
With each day that passes, Ayles gets closer to becoming a participant -- no longer a spectator.
Ayles graduates high school on June 7th and on June 14th, he'll be on campus.
"I get a whole week of summer," he said. "It better be a fun week."
But the adjustment process shouldn't be too drastic. In fact, it began back on Signing Day.
"I will always remember what Coach Carroll told me," Ayles said. "He said, 'After you're a recruit for awhile, once you're with us, you're with us.'
"And that's how it's been."