USC freshman fullback D.J. Shoemate has played a number of different positions in his first year as a Trojan, and his most important assignment will come on New Year's Day when he could crack the starting lineup in place of Stanley Havili.
"Stanley's not here," Shoemate said. "I don't know what his situation is, but right now I am doing the fullback stuff, blocking and whatever they tell me."
Shoemate, a versatile athlete who is accustomed to having the ball in his hands, is learning the art of lead blocking.
"I'm not used to blocking. I'm usually the guy following the fullback or catching the ball," Shoemate said with a grin. "Now I'm the guy trying to make the blocks for my teammates.
"I feel like I can hold it down as far as blocking. I mean football is football. I'm going to do the best I possibly can and give my all for my team."
While the talented freshman didn't get much playing time during the regular season, he has received the majority of the reps during Rose Bowl practices, because of injuries to Stanley Havili and Adam Goodman.
"These past couple of weeks I have been doing pretty much everything," Shoemate said. "I have gotten a lot of reps and I am getting really comfortable."
Shoemate and tight end Rhett Ellison could share the fullback duties in the Rose Bowl, if Havili isn't able to resolve his academic issues.
While some freshmen might be overwhelmed by the idea of making their first start on such a big stage, Shoemate welcomes the challenge.
"I like to live my life with one motto: stay ready so you don't have to get ready," he said.
Senior Adam Goodman, who had knee surgery following the UCLA game, has also been cleared for practice and will attempt to make a return for the Rose Bowl.
News and Notes
- The Trojans held Sunday's practice at Soni McAllister Soccer Field because the turf at Howard Jones Field is in bad shape.
- Safety Kevin Ellison didn't practice on Sunday and Pete Carroll said he doesn't expect the senior to play in the Rose Bowl.
"I don't think he's going to make it back," Carroll said.
- Jeff Byers got work at center on Sunday. After practice, Pat Ruel said they were just getting Byers ready as a precaution.
"I'm just trying to be a good boy scout," Ruel joked. "Always be prepared."
- After practice the Trojans headed to Lawry's to take part in the Beef Bowl. The USC players put away 721 pounds of prime rib, beating Penn State's total of 700.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at firstname.lastname@example.org