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In the latest installment of our senior Exit Interviews, WeAreSC sits down with Brandon and Ryan Ting to discuss their recent announcement that they will be leaving the USC football team to focus on their plans for medical school.
Note - The announcement by the Tings caught many in the Trojan Family by surprise as the two were headed into their senior seasons as veteran leaders on the team who were expected to play increased roles. Brandon had been one of the biggest hitters in the most recent spring ball practice sessions from his safety position and he would have been considered a top reserve at that spot. Ryan had moved over to offense during spring to help fill the slot receiver role and performed well, he also provided one of the highlight moments of the Trojan Huddle with a 75 yard punt return. Even after their decision to leave the program, the Tings took part in summer conditioning drills with the team to help mentor the younger players and pass along their knowledge and information about what it means to play Trojan football. - Garry Paskwietz
B & R: Thanks for having us.
Let’s talk about your decision to come to USC. What made you pick USC over Harvard, any of the other Pac 10 Schools?
B: Coach Carroll was the first head coach to show complete interest in us. It’s a school that people dream of going to. USC is a top school academically; and the football tradition.
R: USC embodies everything. It’s a fusion of academics and sports. The tradition of football. Coach Carroll and the coaching staff completed it, they made us want to play for USC. USC was the total package.
Talk about the moment you were offered by USC.
R: Coach Carroll called us a little after the ‘SC camp our junior year. He flew up the next week, stopped by and expressed that he wanted us to be a part of the Trojan Family. A couple of days followed. He called the house. I picked up. He explained he wanted us to be a part of the Trojan Family. I was floating on air. I was so happy. I just remember saying yes. I think I even verbally committed for Brandon without passing the phone to him. (Laughs.)
B: We were very excited. It was one of our dreams to play college football. We always felt that all of that hard work, the camps, finally paid off. Our parents always said if you work hard it will pay off and it did. It also meant more that we were both offered. Some twins get split up. It was fortunate that all the schools that offered us made offers to us both.
Your parents both have ties to USC. What did it mean for you to play for the Trojans?
B: It’s something we could have never imagined. Our parents’ first date was at the Rose Bowl. Our mom says she has to pinch herself once in a while when she goes to the games seeing us play for USC.
R: Our mom has a jersey with 38 in the front, 39 in the back. People come up to us and say she likes Brandon more because 38 is in the front.
B: I try to run with that as much as I can.
R: But then when she turns around, it’s 39.
Brandon, talk about the interception you had against Fresno State.
B: That was one of those moments I’ll never forget as a Trojan football player just because I don’t really cherish the fact that I got an interception so much as I value that it was at a crucial time and I was helping the team. Just to contribute. I’m happy that I made the most of my opportunity and Reggie scored on the next drive. It’s one of the moments I am really fond of looking back on.
Ryan, what about that very key interception late against Arizona?
R: It was my first interception. Just to have it at that time, it was definitely a moment I’ll never forget. Just like my brother, making that play, making that stop, just proved what Coach Carroll talks about. You always compete. You never give up.
Favorite plays during your career?
R: I’ve had lots of moments. I guess that interception against Arizona, the interception at Cal. But the moments that stick out the most for me are not really plays. Just coming down the tunnel before the game. My first ever play when Coach Holt put me in on a kick-off against Auburn in a hostile environment as a freshman. I’ll never forget the rush on kick-off. Then the interception at Cal. We’re from up north and a lot of our high school teammates and friends were at that game so that made that interception all that more sweet.
B: For me, it’s the camaraderie. When all is said and done, the stuff you do. Preparation leading up to the game. Sweating with your teammates. Just being accountable, having responsibility. The whole ‘SC experience. It’s something you can’t describe unless you’ve been through it. It’s been crazy, and unforgettable. As for specific plays that stand out, it would be the Fresno State game interception.
What game did you enjoy being a part of the most?
B: Every single game had its value. If I had to single out a game, it would be our first game against Auburn. Just because being a freshman and being able to go into Alabama with the city’s history and seeing how hostile the fans were. That was our first experience of a college game. It broke us into what college football was all about.
R: I think the Orange Bowl was my favorite, just because the year before we accomplished a lot and were National Champions, but that one was nice because we won it outright and there was so much build up to that game. We were underdogs. To win it outright in the fashion we did was something nice to be a part of. You can’t single out one game. There were so many. Notre Dame with Dwayne [Jarrett] and Matt [Leinart]...
How did you balance being Academic All Americans with football and the time demands of both?
B & R: Our whole lives we’ve been able to balance both football and school. Those two have always been high on our priority list. We’ve been able to manage it because our identities our whole lives have been being student athletes. It definitely disciplines you to maximize the time that you have. The little time you have you have to put that to school, like the time off of football. We have a strict schedule that allowed us to manage. You learn to make the most of your free time. Practice and football helped us.
When did you first seriously consider leaving the Football Program?
B & R: In January. The coaches were very supportive of where we stood, as far where our mindset was on football and school. Coach Carroll has always shown that what he wants is what’s in our best interest. Kind of like a father. He analyzed the situation like a father would. He gave us advice and was very supportive. We were on the same wavelength where we wanted what was best for the team. He really cares about individual players. Coach Carroll and Mike Garrett have been extremely supportive throughout this whole process. Coach Carroll first discussed it with Mike Garrett. We had to be realistic with ourselves, as far as us getting into the post baccalaureate program, which is a huge commitment. We wanted to take on that commitment and it got to a point where we realized we couldn’t balance both. And it was hard because growing up, and up until now, we’ve always been student athletes. Coach Carroll was very supportive with our thought process. That’s why we mentioned it to him in January before Spring Ball, because we were not fully committed; we thought it was best for Coach Carroll to know.
Was this the hardest decision you had to make?
B & R: One of the hardest. We struggled through the spring with it, weighing out the pros and cons. And by any means, we didn’t want to be distractions to the team, so we didn’t tell them. The football team is a family, and we knew that our decision had to be what we wanted 100%. One of the hardest things was walking away because of the relationships with the players and the coaches. We wanted to stick around to help the freshmen. We discussed with Coach Carroll about doing all of the summer work outs just because we wanted to be around, and not only that, but our commitment to the team wasn’t up in terms of the scholarship year. During spring, we were scarce at wide receiver and we wanted what was best for the team. We were also scarce at defensive back. That’s why I [Ryan] moved to receiver in the spring, because we needed guys at receiver. Coach Carlisle was very supportive as well. We established friendships and ties with the freshmen who did come in and we felt that for freshmen being away from home, jumping in the program, we wanted to be there for them as well, to stick around and contribute to the end.
What was the reaction of your family to your decision to leave USC Football?
B &R: They were very involved. We mentioned it to our family in January and they were extremely supportive. They wanted our decision to be well thought out. We told them we reached the point where we were at a crossroads and we had to pick one, because we couldn’t manage labs, classes and give 100% to both. For us, we give 100% passion to everything we do and it just reached the point where we realized we had to focus on our passion on school and the huge commitment of the post-baccalaureate program. They just wanted us to feel we were making the right decision, and we struggled with it, but we feel we made the best decision because in the future that’s what we want to do - we want to become doctors and help people.
Your teammates were shocked to learn you were leaving.
B & R: We didn’t want to be a distraction to the team. The football team is a family. We mentioned it to some of the guys on the team, and they didn’t really believe us. We are kind of embarrassed at how much attention has come of this. We’re not like Reggie Bush. We’re reserve players.
You have to know that you are both very well respected by the USC community.
B & R: We know that. Through all of this, the fans have been very supportive. We show up every day, every Saturday for the fans. Throughout our years at USC, they have been supportive, the Herd, everyone. They’ve been extremely welcoming. The response we’ve seen is very gratifying.
How tough is it for you guys knowing fall camp is right around the corner and you won’t be there?
B & R: It’s tough because any athlete will experience withdrawals. We’ve prepared our mindset to accept what our future holds. Every former athlete would say it’s hard. Even Coach Carroll mentioned he would have withdrawals when he was done. We’re excited and sad at the same time.
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