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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
One team. One heartbeat. That is how USC quarterback Cody Kessler described his 2013 football season with the Trojans.
But at the beginning of the season, things were a bit shaky, as Kessler fought to be the full-time starter.
"I was trying to win a job, and there was a lot of pressure because I didn't want to mess up," Kessler said Monday on "First Look with Scott Cox."
Kessler competed with Max Wittek for the starting quarterback position and ultimately succeeded. Then-coach Lane Kiffin named the Centennial graduate his full-time starter via a YouTube video on Sept. 9.
When Kessler found out, he sent a group text to his family but felt anxious and nervous, he said.
Coming from Bakersfield and being on national television was different for Kessler but as he grew more comfortable, he got into the groove of the game.
After Kiffin was fired after five games, defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was picked as USC's interim head coach. Kessler said he was a coach who really cared about the game.
"You could be dead tired and he could give you a speech and you'd be up and ready to play," Kessler said. "He was a players' coach and everybody loved him."
Orgeron resigned in December after USC hired University of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian for the full-time job. But many on the team are still hopeful Orgeron will return to the team in some capacity, Kessler said.
Staying on top of schoolwork can be difficult, but Kessler has found a way to achieve both in the classroom and on the field.
"It gets hectic but we have tutors and there are great people that put their time to make sure we are eligible," Kessler said.
Majoring in sociology, with a minor in communications, Kessler said sports will always be a part of his life.
He grew up in a sports-oriented family and said he "couldn't see my life without sports."
Kessler first met Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr when Kessler was a sophomore in high school and was training with a group of friends.
"We have a solid and close relationship," Kessler said.
So when the two quarterbacks went head-to-head in the Las Vegas Bowl, it was a unique moment for Kessler.
"Knowing that I was going to play against him on his last college game was awesome because we have known each other for many years," Kessler said.
When Kessler was fighting to be USC's starter, Carr kept him grounded.
"He would tell me, 'Don't worry about it, you'll get your chance,' and it happened, so I can't thank him enough," he said.