Breaking it down: Tailbacks

When spring practices ended three players were named at top of the depth chart at tailback, with head coach Lane Kiffin calling one of them the best midyear player he's ever seen at USC. Is this the year of the return of Tailback U?

Silas Redd
Redd started spring strong before tearing his meniscus and being sidelined for the majority of practices. But the senior made the most of his time, keeping his hand in helping his teammates and taking on more of a vocal leadership role. Redd hasn't even been at USC an entire year, but told me he feels 100% a part of the "Trojan Family" and is ready to take on a large leadership role for the 2013 season. Redd was also chomping at the bit to get back on the field. He sang the praises of freshman Justin Davis but noted that he can't wait to get back on the field and compete. Expect Redd to be the starter, but he'll be sharing his carries throughout the season.

Justin Davis
Three "ORs" at the top of the depth chart at tailback. After this spring, it's no surprise one of those spots belongs to freshman Justin Davis. Head coach Lane Kiffin said during spring practices that he didn't know if he could recall another player in the program -- during his tenure at USC -- that made such an impact during the 15 spring practices. Davis no doubt benefited from the extra carries due to teammates sidelined with injury, but Kiffin noted that the staff saw this potential in him long before he stepped foot on campus and they had no doubt he would immediately contribute. Expect Davis to split carries with Redd as a true freshman.

Tre Madden
Madden rounds out the three "ORs" at tailback. I was a bit surprised to see Madden in that top spot. The redshirt sophomore played most of the spring in a limited contact jersey as the recovery process from his knee injury continued. Given the fact that he was limited in contact, it was surprising to see his durability when he was able to participate in full-action. If Madden hadn't been limited during spring, he most likely would've looked as good as Davis… which is most likely why he got the nod with the "Or" position.

D.J. Morgan
I don't like to say that anyone lost spring. But DJ Morgan may have lost spring. Not because of his performance when he was still healthy, but because of the competition nipping at his heels i.e. Davis. Morgan had a few step-up moments in 2012 – notably at Utah when both Redd and Curtis McNeal were unavailable at times during the game. Morgan looked poised to step in as the second starting back with Redd until Davis burst on the scene. The fall will be crucial for Davis to prove he can stay healthy and continue to build on the experience he earned last year.

Buck Allen
Buck Allen had a solid spring for the Trojans trading off carries with Davis. But, call it a hunch. I don't think Allen will see much of the field at tailback in 2013. When asked about his progress and how he had looked pretty good over the spring, Kiffin was non-committal. He didn't say Allen hadn't looked good – but it certainly wasn't the enthusiastic response the media received when asked about other guys who were steadily progressing. Allen didn't do anything to necessarily turn heads big time, but that goes both ways -- both good and bad. It will be interesting to see how he competes in the fall. This one is a wildcard.

John Akiba
Taylor Ross
Alec Jaffe
Ty Isaac
The five-star back might be better off redshirting his freshman season for no other reason than there are already three guys – Redd, Davis, Madden – on the depth chart and barring major injuries the Trojans just won't need him. Why waste a year of eligibility for such a talented back who could be a force to reckon with in 2014 with Davis?

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