Puzzle Piece Found
USC head coach Lane Kiffin never tried to hide the fact he was concerned about his depth at running back going into the season.
He also wasted no time finding a solution.
Kiffin had his eyes set on Penn State’s Silas Redd before sanctions were even handed down to the Nittany Lions.
Now Redd, could be the missing puzzle piece found for a USC team hyped to make a run to a Pac-12 and even national championship.
Redd rushed for 1,241 yards in 2011 for Penn State and will now provide depth in the backfield that the Trojans lacked just over a week ago.
The addition of Redd gives the Trojans two 1,000-plus yard rushers.
Last fall, the 5-10 200 pound back rushed for 100 yards in five consecutive contests for Penn State.
Redd will immediately be thrown into the fire during fall camp. Kiffin said coaches will be spending extra time with him and working around the clock to prepare him for the season.
The biggest question remaining is how Kiffin will utilize both Redd and senior back Curtis McNeal with the talent of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee at receiver.
It's no secret that USC has the top wide receiver duo in the country with junior Robert Woods and sophomore Marqise Lee. The talented pair combined for 184 receptions and 26 touchdowns in 2011, but as we head into fall camp, the question remains: Who will be the No.3 wide receiver?
The battle will likely boil down to Nelson Agholor, George Farmer and DeVon Flournoy.
Freshman Nelson Agholor is the youngest of the group, but has shown enough potential in his short time on campus to believe that he has a real shot to emerge as the Trojans' No.3 wide receiver.
The 6-1, 185-pound wideout from Tampa, Fla., was electric at the players-only throwing sessions this offseason, making several big plays and has the look of an instant impact player for the Trojans.
And if you don't believe my assessment, just ask Robert Woods.
"He’s out here making plays already," Woods said. “He always wants to work.”
If Agholor isn't able to take over the No.3 spot, a healthy and committed George Farmer could join Robert Woods and Marqise Lee to form a dangerous trio at wide receiver, just like the old days at Serra High School.
Farmer never got on track last season after suffering a string of nagging injuries and moving to tailback late in the year. Now back at wide receiver, he has the natural ability to be a difference maker in the future.
The veteran in the mix is junior DeVon Flournoy. The 6-0, 180-pound receiver has shown promise in practice the past three years, but needs to be more consistent in order to see significant playing time.
Prep Not Hype
Prep Not Hype was the message chalked on the sidelines of Howard Jones Field as the players busted through the gates for the start of spring practice just months ago. This coming season, with all of the pre-season accolades, national championship talk and lofty expectations, is going to be quite a test of that motto.
With the return of Matt Barkley, T.J. McDonald and the recent addition of Penn State transfer Silas Redd, the pieces have fallen into place for a run at the national championship in USC’s first year back from a 2-year bowl ban.
The Trojans are limited to just 75 scholarship players on the roster because of NCAA sanctions, but it would be hard to find a more talented group in the country.
As we have witnessed year after year in sport after sport, talent isn’t the only determining factor in the success of a team, so Lane Kiffin must keep his players hungry and focused while navigating through a challenging run. But make no mistake, USC is ready to return as a major player on the national stage in 2012.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley will have plenty of weapons in 2012. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)
- Kevin Carden and Lindsey Thiry contributed to this report.