Seniors mix it up for last full pads practice

Two defensive linemen miss practice Wednesday with foot injuries.

LOS ANGELES – Regular observers of USC practices might have been caught by surprise Wednesday morning by a handful of noticeable uniform changes.

Fullback Rhett Ellison and defensive tackle Christian Tupou modified their helmets with tape into something more commonly associated with the distinctive red and white stripes of Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei.

Offensive lineman Martin Coleman was clad in Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison green, wide receiver Brandon Carswell in blue, same for Tupou.

Those four seniors reconstituted a dormant tradition by wearing their high school jerseys to recognize their final practice in full pads.

Ellison got the idea from his father, Riki, who played at USC from 1978-82, and running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu endorsed its return.

"Rhett has been waiting for this for a long time," Carswell said. "His dad told him about the tradition and he kind of brought it to our attention. A lot of the seniors are kind of bummed out they didn't get to wear theirs, but it was fun for today."

Other seniors expressed interest, but were unable to participate.

Ellison actually didn't wear his Mountain View (Calif.) Saint Francis jersey, which is in storage.

For Carswell, he enjoyed putting on the blue and gold of Milpitas (Calif.) one more time. His sister, in town for Thanksgiving, brought the uniform with her.

"I like the way it looks," Carswell said. "I love having No. 1 again. I felt fast today, felt like young again. It was awesome."

Weighing in at 300 pounds, Tupou was going to squeeze into his Sacramento (Calif.) Grant jersey, even if it required a little sewing afterwards.

"I'm sure it was going to fit. I was going to make it fit," Tupou said.

Tupou admitted it still has not registered that he has just one more practice, walk-through and game left as a Trojan.

"It hasn't hit me yet to be honest. It will probably hit me Saturday," he said.

Injuries Abound
Running back Curtis McNeal hurt his knee during a special teams drill and did not return to practice. However, the redshirt junior did not believe the injury was serious.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin said McNeal would undergo further tests.

Defensive tackle J.R. Tavai was in a walking boot after hurting his left ankle in practice Tuesday.

Defensive end Devon Kennard (ankle) did not practice, while wide receiver Robert Woods (ankle, shoulder) was limited.

Quick Hits
-UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero confirmed on his blog that the Bruins would wear alternate jerseys, rumored to be all white, on Saturday against USC.

It would end a three-year return to the tradition of both teams wearing their home uniforms, which initially ended with UCLA's move to the Rose Bowl but was restored by Pete Carroll and Rick Neuheisel in 2008.

"I don't understand it at all because everything I've been told is that Rick was behind this whole thing [of wearing home uniforms] and I know that our players and fans really enjoy it," Kiffin said. "But it's their choice."


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