Spring Summary: Tailbacks

A summary of the Trojans' spring season as it concerns the tailback position.

While the final week of USC football's spring season hasn't officially wrapped, it's pretty much over. Lane Kiffin doesn't need to drop the depth chart for us media or fans to gain information. We've seen enough with our own eyes.

Of course, there is still the spring game where individuals can shine and great plays will be remembered. But the majority of news has likely broken, the playmakers already made enough plays.

I wouldn't put it past Kiffin to throw a surprise or two in his official chart to be released Monday, but I would still expect to see as many ORs used as the entire Harvard crew team.

We will talk tailbacks first, continuing with the defensive line tomorrow until spring officially ends.

The big headline of the offseason begins and ends with Tre Madden. Nothing will be more exciting and disappointing. Madden moving from linebacker to tailback presented the Trojans with a strong, speedy back that could break through tackles and wasn't afraid to go down. Unfortunately for Madden, a few weeks ago he hit the ground and didn't get right back up. He suffered a torn ligament in his left knee when making a cut in the Trojans' Apr. 5 practice.

Madden showed in a few short weeks what he could do with the ball and his head coach plans to keep him on offense when he fully recovers.

In the meantime, USC lacks a deep group of running backs. You have soon-to-be senior tailback Curtis McNeal, who has looked quicker and more fluid in his routes this spring and redshirt sophomore D.J. Morgan who said he feels completely confident and healthy after undergoing knee surgery two years ago.

Javorious 'Buck' Allen remains an unknown. He's not completely confident or totally knowledgeable of the playbook yet, but he's getting there and starting to see that there is great opportunity for him now. He just needs to take it. Allen was sidelined much of spring with a pulled hamstring but has since returned looking healthy with an extra spring (no pun intended) in his routes.

Expect to see two more players get looks in the summer in new enrollees Jahleel Pinner and Nelson Agholor.

Pinner will primarily play fullback when he gets to USC but he's been preparing to play a hybrid role since he signed his letter of intent. Coaches have given him a workout plan and the Mission Viejo (Calif.) High product -- a former teammate of Madden's -- hopes that dual role will increase his opportunity to play immediately.

Much has been made of wide receiver/safety Agholor, the Berkeley (Florida) Preparatory athlete and five-Star recruit who is traveling across the coast to play with the Trojans. Initially Kiffin said he would not start Agholor immediately at running back but because of Madden it's looking like the freshman will get more time in the backfield than once believed.

The head coach has emphasized that he has looked at the roster and did not find any more potential running back candidates with his current group. So he will try Agholor and Pinner there and hope one of them sticks. While Agholor will also line up wide, the early chance to play might be worth putting him in the backfield rather than sitting on the sideline.

With the increase of the spread offense in the Pac-12, it's clear USC will air it out more in 2012 which will relieve some of the pressure off the Trojans' running game. Still, the university is known as "Tailback U" for a reason and McNeal, Morgan and Allen should help Barkley & Co. keep a balanced attack in the fall. In the meantime, the coaching staff will hope a fourth back comes through the woods and the current trio stays healthy.

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