BY SCOTT WOLF, Staff Writer
"The body of USC kicker Mario Danelo was found Saturday at the bottom of Point Fermin Park cliffs in San Pedro.
Danelo, 21, was missing for at least a day, according to USC officials, before his body was found. Rigor mortis had set in by the time authorities reached the scene Saturday night.
"It's extremely sad," USC special teams coach Sam Anno said. "No.1, because of the person that Mario was and the kind of guy he was. And also because of the kind of player he was; he worked hard at his craft and succeeded.
"I'll never forget the first game this season when Arkansas tried to burn him with three timeouts and he still nailed a 44-yarder. That was Mario in a nutshell."
Park visitors spotted Danelo's body at 4:37 p.m. and about 40firefighters responded to the scene, about 200 yards west of the Point Fermin Lighthouse.
Firefighters led police down a 120-foot cliff to the body.
Danelo's roommate, USC wide receiver Chris McFoy, was shocked by the news Saturday night.
"It was unexpected," McFoy said. "He's a funny guy. A warm, loving guy. It 's a shock something like this would happen."
McFoy said he last spoke to Danelo after the Rose Bowl and the kicker seemed fine. Other witnesses said Danelo attended a postgame party and, while a little down about missing two extra points against Michigan, was otherwise fine.
"He was OK. He was smiling, had a drink in his hand and he stopped and chatted with people," said a student who did not wish to be identified.
Danelo called USC kicker Troy Van Blarcom on Saturday but did not leave a message, sources said.