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It's run-to-the-ball football

In Day 2 of Fall Camp, there were plenty of special plays but it's a special player on defense, Cameron Smith who's earning all the plaudits for the Pac-12 Freshman Defender of the Year's return in less than eight months after ACL surgery.

JuJu Smith-Schuster was typically JuJu. Tough, smart, with exceptional catches in traffic again and again in Friday evening's second day of Fall Camp even if it aggravated his turf toe and left him limping off.

And Adoree' Jackson started slow but by the end, he was rolling. And that after a scuffle and getting beat for a touchdown by JuJu.

But it was Cameron Smith, barely eight months removed from ACL surgery, who was the talk of this Trojan team on this day.

He's back. And the 6-foot-2, 245-pound freshman All-American middle linebacker says, in an answer he had to give more than once because people weren't sure they'd heard him correctly, not just back but "100 percent" back.

Great news for USC fans who remember the rookie from Granite Bay was on pace to lead USC in tackles for the first time ever for a first-year player until his injury 10 games into his rookie season. Not only that, but after missing the spring, "he's working out the cobwebs" calling a new defense he didn't get to play in the spring when he sat out, says coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

Will he be able to go all out the first day in full pads Monday, Clancy was asked. "He's out there and he has a helmet on," Clancy said. In other words, yes he will.

"I just felt comfortable," Cam said of his first full-team work. "It's great now that I'm cleared, I'm getting back and getting in rhythm. And I've got to get it out of my head [the injury]."

Of his speedy return, he said "Everyone's different," just as Toa Lobendahn, who had the same injury more than a month earlier and is just getting back now, grabbed him and said: "Cam Smith is a stud."

Of this new more aggressive defense, Cam said "it's a little more simple, it's not this or that, it's just 'Go.' " And then there's this: "You see a seam" in this defense "you hit it . . .  there are more guys running to the ball."

Which is why Adoree', after his scuffle with De'Quan Hampton that had his secondary teammates running to the rescue since it happened on their sideline, thought he'd be OK even after Clay Helton and Clancy called them together for three minutes of up-downs for both teams.

"I thought I would, I mean, you can obviously tell when the guy blitzes six people every play, he likes aggressiveness . . . but we can't do that," Adoree' said of the punches thrown after making up with De'Quan, who had had enough this summer of DB's locking him up, a history Adoree' missed out on in his Olympics run.

He made the right call on Clancy, who has never coached him after missing him in the spring. Clancy came by and told Adoree': "I like your competitiveness."

There's a lot for Clancy to like with Cam. "He's extremely bright, extremely smart. He cares. And he's a great communicator," Clancy said. But that's not all.

An Athlon Sports story today quoted an unnamed Pac-12 head coach that Cam "was as smart of a freshman linebacker as we’ve seen in awhile. The guy never took himself out of a play."

"He's very instinctive," Clancy said. "There are a lot of natural things about him . . . his stats show that." And that's fine with Clancy.

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His goal? "I'd like to have 11 guys out there not thinking, just running to the ball."

But then there's this twist. Playing fast isn't what it sounds like, Clancy says. "To me, playing fast is knowing what to do . . . we're starting to get that here."

Getting Cameron Smith back gets USC a good bit of the way there. "It's just seeing things and knowing you've just got to fit the scheme," the sophomore says. And now he's leading it.

"I feel very comfortable leading," he says.

"You can see Cam getting really confident out there," Clay Helton says with a smile on his face.  

Friday footnoted

Friday's injuries had JuJu aggravating the turf toe he started the day with and will probably have him play-limited for a while after he gets back . . . Keyshawn "Pie" Young, in his defensive No. 17, banged up his shoulder a bit . . . and WR Jalen Greene was pulled to protect a possible hamstring . . . of his fight with De'Quan, Adoree' said, De'Quan threw the first punch, Adoree' the second then De'Quan got in another one and as Adoree' lifted him up, he missed and by that time, six or seven DB's on that sideline reached him in the end zone with a rescue posse . . .  "It's faith, family and football," Adoree' said of this team's motto, "and I'm family to those guys" . . . but no way he does something like that in the Alabama game. "You do that and you sit out the Utah State game," said Adoree', who made up for things, including getting beat on a perfectly thrown ball by Max Browne on a play where he'd squeezed JuJu down the sideline and the perfect throw got over him as JuJu made a one-handed fingertip grab. "Nothing you can do about that except say 'Good job," Adoree said. . . . But two plays later, on a quick out route from Max to JuJu, Adoree' jumped it for a quick Pick Six and showed that he, too, like Cam Smith, may just be back . . . Clay aid the plan now is for USC to have three scrimmages . . . Monday's practice is the first at the Coliseum this fall . . . And finally, not only is safety John Plattenburg a returning starting safety, the junior from Houston is up for the Danny Wuerrfel Award and the All-State Good Works team, both for community service endeavors. Says John: "Every day, I want the world, or USC, to be a better place. I love helping young people." To do that, John says he's "in the process of creating three nonprofits -- one is 'Just Shoes' to provide athletic shoes for young people, the second is to give them a sports experience and the third is to provide clothes and some guidance for when they have something big like an interview."    

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.

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