With his mind on football and football on his mind, hip-hop icon Snoop Dogg surprised the No. 1 USC Trojan football team Tuesday evening and joined in on its practice.
Clad from head to toe in a cardinal warm-up suit and number 213, the Long Beach rapper and long-time Trojan fan traded in his cardinal-and-gold-laced white All-Star shoes for a pair of cleats and ran drills with the offense and defense.
“I came to coach and ended up being a player,” Snoop said in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “I turned into a player’s coach and a coach’s player.”
Filming a segment for “Stand In,” an MTV celebrity surprise show, which has included former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry teaching an American foreign policy class, Snoop walked into the team’s pre-practice meeting and joined in on a rap with USC cornerback Eric Wright.
Visibly enthused by the rapper’s presence on the field, the team shouted his name as they jogged away from their stretching exercises, where Snoop overlooked the team with USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow.
Snoop, who named former USC tailbacks Marcus Allen and Charles White as his all-time favorites said he was particularly excited to see players from his hometown, such as running back Hershel Dennis and safety Darnell Bing.
“I love seeing the Long Beach kids out here for all the lil’ homies on the field to see them succeed,” Snoop said.
Those “lil’ homies” were the San Diego Pop Warner football team, coached by Savaii Seau, brother of former USC safety and Miami Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau. Brought to the practice with the purpose of inspiring them to continue onto college, Seau said he had no idea that his team would be able to meet a music idol as well.
“Snoop is a second blessing,” Seau said. “We brought (the kids) down here to try to give them a goal to go to college.”
USC defensive end Frostee Rucker, an avid Snoop fan, took the rapper under his wing during the defensive drills and said he noticed the team’s excitement.
“(It’s a) cool surprise to have a superstar and have him meet modern-day super stars like us,” Rucker said. “For these kids to come see us, it’s a big thing _- same thing (with Snoop Dogg). I just lit up.”
USC quarterback Matt Leinart said Snoop was “funny” and said that these types of celebrity visits gives an indication of the team’s status.
“It shows we’re working hard in L.A., where there’s Hollywood, and it shows the respect we’re getting,” Leinart said.
In their brief meeting before practice, USC coach Pete Carroll said he went over plays with Snoop and gave him advice on how to put pressure on the defense and different blitzes.
“Good uplifting day out here and on a normal game week it wouldn’t have happened. He did a great job,” Carroll said. “He was fun and gracious.”
Carroll’s final verdict on whether the rapper is a better coach or player?
“Definitely a player,” Carroll said.
“Stand In” with Snoop Dogg will air on mtvU on Nov. 29 at noon.