Just weeks before the opening of fall camp the Trojans got the tough news that incoming freshman linebacker Frankie Telfort would have to take a medical retirement because of a heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Then the already thin linebacker corps took another hit with the news that Luthur Brown's senior season was in jeopardy because of academic issues.
Enter safety Shane Horton, who was asked the day before the start of fall camp to move from his safety position up to linebacker.
"The guys have welcomed me real quick," Horton said. "It was kind of last minute. They told me the day before camp started, so that night I was in with Coach Norton all night picking up the base calls and stuff."
Horton immediately accepted the challenge and realized the move would give him a better opportunity to get playing time in '09.
"That was one of the reasons that I moved there," he said. "Frankie(Telfort) went down and we were already kind of set at safety with the guys returning, so it's a great opportunity.
"All the coaches are really excited about me getting there and contributing and competing."
Horton played some linebacker in his high school and during his time at UNLV, so he is familiar with the position and has been very productive early in fall.
"It has been a smooth transition. I think it is easier to go from safety down to linebacker as opposed to linebacker back up," Horton explained. "I get to use my athleticism a little more and I get to use my safety knowledge because it all blends together."
He also has the fortune of learning from one of top linebacker coaches in the country in Ken Norton Jr.
"Coach Norton is the greatest," said Horton, who has already bulked up from 210 to 218. "I have enjoyed the last five days with him and I am looking forward to everything that is going on in the future with him.
"I feel like his personality fits me a little more. He is a little more in your face and gets you going. I think that is one of my favorite things from moving down to linebacker, is having him as a coach."
Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley showed that he was capable of quickly bouncing back from his morning practice performance that included three interceptions.
"It didn't faze me, and that's what Coach Carroll emphasizes, just put things in the past," Barkley said.
Although three turnovers is never a good thing, Carroll said that Barkley's interceptions weren't entirely his fault.
"The pick in the corner down there, the receiver went behind the defensive back," Carroll explained. "It was going to be a perfect throw and the receiver went behind the DB, so we say that and he had a ball tipped.
"He didn't have a bad morning. You think it because there was a couple of picks but we can see what happened."
Barkley came alive in the afternoon session make big time throws all over the field including a 60-yard touchdown strike to Travon Patterson, which was arguably the best pass he has made all camp.
"He came back right back out here and cranked it up again," Carroll said. "He had a terrific day today."
Barkley added: "This afternoon was a lot better. I think the chemistry was there and guys were fired up."
- Aaron Corp was able to do some throwing before practice and Carroll said he was pleased with his progress. "I thought Aaron looked pretty good too," Carroll said. "We threw a little bit before practice today. He was dropping back nice and comfortably and all. He is going to make a quick recovery here. He feels pretty darn good already."
- Defensive tackle Averell Spicer's MRI results revealed that he has a high ankle sprain and could be sideline for up to 3 weeks.
- Sophomore tight end Blake Ayles has been diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia. Ayles will undergo more testing to determine if it needs to be treated. He could need a minor surgery to fix the problem but will be able to practice on Friday.
- Incoming freshman Patrick Hall is not yet cleared and still has some academic issues that need to be resolved according to the schools website. Pete Carroll said Hall should be fully cleared in "a few more days."
- With Aaron Corp sidelined, Matt Barkley will receive the vast majority of the reps at quarterback. So, is quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates worried about tiring out Barkley's arm?
"Not at all. You throw a football more with the hip. If you throw the ball correctly and you're not all side armed and you're using your body, it's kind of like your golf stroke," Bates explained. "You shouldn't ever have a sore shoulder. It doesn't make sense. We're going to give him all the reps. He's 18 years old, too. He's fresh. We're going to give him as many reps as we can because it's all about experience and seeing defenses and calling the plays."
- Allen Bradford has always brought a defensive mentality to the offense and today he dished out a big hit to defensive back Omari Crittenden. Bradford took a handoff bounced outside, lowered his shoulder and ran over Crittenden.
- The play of the day featured 6-foot-2, 330-pound defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo tracking down 5-foot-8, 190-pound tailback Curtis McNeal in the backfield for a loss. McNeal appeared to have the edge and was ready to turn up the field when Fangupo burst through the line and dragged down the undersized tailback with one hand.
On the next play, Fangupo stuffed a back in the hole and popped up yelling, "not in this gap."
Matt Barkley responded with a strong performance at the second practice of the day.
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