Notables: Trojans' 3/1 Throwing Session

Some news and notes from the Trojans' Thursday voluntary workout.

Thursday produced a better turnout and a longer throwing session than the Trojans have had for the past two weeks. Conditioning did not run as long as usual, so that could have been the reason for the extended time.

Before the voluntary workout, Lane Kiffin clarified a few things. For one, he said incoming athlete Nelson Agholor will not start at running back. Despite reports saying the contrary, Kiffin expects to put the receiver in the backfield for some plays but he "is definitely coming [to USC] to play receiver."

Kiffin also said early enrollee Chad Wheeler has quickly impressed him. Initially he saw the offensive lineman as a long-term project, acknowledging he needed to gain weight. But the freshman has already put on 18-20 pounds, according to Kiffin. gaining 18-20 pounds.

"He wasn't a ready-made project, we projected him to gain weight and gain size. So he's already doing that," he said.

On another note, I had a long talk with cornerback Anthony Brown after the throwing session. Brown was cleared for spring ball on Tuesday.

Brown said he's absolutely determined to start in 2012. He kept repeating the phrase "I have to." I've seen athletes set goals and aspire for playing time, but this was a bit different. He talked about his setbacks from the injury and how thrilled he is to be healthy again. He said he'd do whatever it takes to fight for a spot. If anything that should up the level of competition at cornerback. This spot opposite Nickell Robey, along with the receiver spots, are absolutely loaded with players.

Another one of those cornerbacks is Tony Burnett who should never apply for a job as a punter or kicker. He tried to kick a few footballs at the session and they almost took out three different bystanders. One went in the bleachers and missed a couple by about a foot. The other nearly hit a runner on the track.

Another loaded position is at linebacker. Freshman Tre Madden said his confidence is rising after getting some on-field experience and hopes he'll be able to play faster as soon as this spring. He said starting isn't as big of a concern to him as long as they have a solid rotation.

"As long as we're putting our tape out there we know we're going to be seen," he said.

Madden has gained nine pounds (to 226) since he enrolled.

Departing seniors Peter Yobo and Tyler Grady stopped by the throwing session to say hello to fellow teammates. Both student-athletes are finishing up classes and will participate at next week's pro day. But Grady is realistic about his chances and said he expects to look for video game design jobs soon.

Jawanza Starling reflected on his time at USC and said he's looking forward to his last spring. He hopes he can play opposite T.J. and has been working on little things with new secondary coach Marvin Sanders. He said he wants to improve his tackling and his backpedal, among other things. He said he's been watching a lot of film of Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu.

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