February 24, 2009

Healthy Baucham ready to compete

A late addition to the 2008 recruiting class, cornerback Brian Baucham, a prep track star, stumbled out of the blocks.

A champion hurdler, Baucham had plenty of barriers to cross once he began practicing with the Trojans in the fall.

A stress fracture to his foot and hamstring and ankle injuries forced Baucham into a redshirt.

Instead of letting the newcomer sulk or wallow in his unfortunate luck, USC coaches threw him into the fire when he was healthy.

"I kept getting injured at the beginning of this year. It kept putting me down and I felt bad," he said. "The coaches kept talking to me, and they kept putting me out on the field to get reps.

"That kind of put it in my head that I could do this."

Getting ready for spring practices, Baucham is feeling healthy, and he's excited to compete for playing time in a crowded secondary.

"It's going good. I'm feeling stronger and feeling more ready to play this year," Baucham said. "I'm ready to get out here. The good thing is that I'm feeling well rested now."

The redshirt season wasn't a bust despite the slew of injuries. Baucham said he picked up plenty of technique from watching the veteran Trojan cornerbacks work.

"Watching older guys like Kevin Thomas, Josh Pinkard and Cary Harris was just great," Baucham said. "I'd sit on the sideline and watch those guys and how they step and everything. I got it down now, and I'm ready to compete this year."

Technique will be a major point of emphasis for the 5-foot-11 defensive back during winter workouts and spring football.

"I want to improve my line-of-scrimmage game," he said. "I want to get better with that first step, and I need to make sure I get two hands on the receiver and run with him."

Luckily, Baucham gets tested every time he takes the field for seven-on-seven or 11-on-11 drills. Receivers like Ronald Johnson, Damian Williams and David Ausberry each provide unique challenges for Baucham.

"The fast guys are tough, like RoJo. He's so quick off the line, and he just takes off running. A step or two past the line and he's full speed. You almost just have to bail out, try to touch him with one hand and run. It's great practice," Baucham said. "It's good to practice with Damian too. If you get two hands on him, you know you've done well.

"Ausberry is so big and strong. If you get your hands on him the wrong way, he'll just push you off of him. It's great to work against these guys."

He might get beat here and there, but that doesn't matter so much. Baucham's just glad to be back at 100 percent, and he's ready to battle throughout 2009.

"I expect myself to perform my best. I really just want to make it through the whole season and not get inured," he said. "I just want to be competing with everyone while I'm at my best.

"You have to go hard or be ready to sit on the bench. It's fun, but it's job."

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