5-foot-8, 190-pound tailback Curtis McNeal, who is arguably the most elusive player in the Trojans' loaded backfield, took a handoff during Friday's scrimmage, raced off the left side and appeared to have the edge before Hebron Fangupo surged through the line, tracked down the undersized back and slammed him to the turf with one hand.
Seeing the 6-foot-2, 330-pound defensive lineman chase down McNeal behind the line of scrimmage was one of the most impressive plays of the day and an encouraging sign for the Trojans' run defense.
"He's tough, really strong and he weighs 330 or something," Pete Carroll said. "For that size, he gives us another kind of dimension guy.
I don't think that Fili (Moala) ever weighed over 300 so that's a 30-pound bigger kid. He's as big as maybe Sedrick (Ellis) was in the middle of the bad part of the offseason."
In his first week as a Trojan, Fangupo has shown enough promise to find himself right in the middle of the starting nose tackle competition.
"We are trying to accelerate his process here so that he can help us in the opening game," Carroll explained. "Right now we see him playing for us."
While there is no questioning Fangupo's natural ability he is still a raw player that is trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible.
"I appreciate all of their effort. They teach me technique, how to step, how to use my feet," Fangupo said of the coaches. "One thing I never knew was how to use my strength. Before I would just go all out and throw my body at people but now they teach me how to throw my body, how to get into places and how to control people's bodies.
"I feel a lot better now and more prepared."
The 24 year-old JUCO transfer is one of the oldest players on the team but welcomes any advice from his younger teammates.
"Age is wisdom. You learn a lot as you grow up and I have seen a lot of things and learned a lot of things," Fangupo said. "But coming in here to USC I am still a little baby.
"I know a lot of these guys are younger but to me they are wiser than me because they know the program, they know how everything works and how the coaches want things, so I should humble myself and listen to them."
With Averell Spicer out with a sprained ankle the massive defensive lineman has been getting plenty of opportunities early in camp.
"First of all, Spice, I pray for him every day to come back. It's always good to get a rotation going but if he's out, hopefully I will be the one to fill in and be able to help out the team," Fangupo said. "If one falls, no man gets left behind, so hopefully he comes back and we can get a rotation going."
Fangupo's unique combination of size, strength and quickness has Carroll intrigued and gives the Trojans plenty of options along the line.
"When we line up, and he is next to Armond (Armstead), that is the two biggest guys that we have played with on the same side of the ball, ever," Carroll said. "We are a little bigger than we have been at that spot. We can go big now, which we haven't really had that in the past."
If the Trojans are looking to "go big" then they definitely have the right guy for the job.
"I try to lose weight but the more vegetables that I eat, the bigger I get," Fangupo said with a roaring laugh. "The only guy heavier than me is Martin Coleman, my other Tongan guy."
As intimidating as the 330 pounder is on the field, he couldn't be more pleasant off the field.
Fangupo met with the media for the first time Saturday and immediately had everyone laughing with his playful personality, which has already won over his new teammates and coaches.
"He's a really fun kid to coach," Carroll said. "He has a great spirit about him."
Injured USC quarterback Aaron Corp said he would have X-rays on his cracked left fibula on Monday and was optimistic about a possible return next week.
"I am going to get one I think on Monday morning," Corp said. "That is a checkup to see whether I can go next week."
Corp has been able to throw the ball while dropping back half-speed but hasn't yet attempted to run on it.
"I am still throwing a lot but it's not as intense," he said.
- Safety Will Harris intercepted Matt Barkley for the second time in as many days. After practice, Carroll singled out Harris and said he was USC's most effective run defender among the safeties. - The hit of the day came from the offense on Saturday. Tailback C.J. Gable lowered his shoulder and ran over linebacker Nick Garratt in the open field.
- The Trojans' practice on Sunday has been moved up an hour to 3 p.m.