Tuesday Practice: Early Playing Time

When prospects go through the recruiting process several factors go into their decision to commit to a specific school, but the one factor that gets mentioned time and again is the opportunity for early playing time. For Devon Kennard and Jarvis Jones, that opportunity is about to come to fruition.

Early Playing Time

When prospects go through the recruiting process several factors go into their decision to commit to a specific school, but the one factor that gets mentioned time and again is the opportunity for early playing time.

For Devon Kennard and Jarvis Jones, two of the higher rated players in USC's star-studded 2009 recruiting class, that opportunity is about to come to fruition.

Pete Carroll said on Tuesday that Kennard and Jones are two true freshmen that will definitely see playing time in the season opener against San Jose State.

"Those guys are playing," Carroll said.

Jones is currently listed as the backup strong-side linebacker and will likely get into the rotation in the first quarter of play.

"Jarvis will be in the rotations in the first-quarter I would bet," Carroll said. "I think he will play in the game right away. He has done a great job and he is a tough, hard-nosed hitter and we like that."

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker from Columbus, Georgia gives the Trojans depth at one of their thinnest positions.

"It's a great opportunity to be a true freshman and come here and play at USC. There is such a high standard here for all of our athletes," Jones said. "To be able to step in and play is a tremendous accomplishment and I am thankful for every opportunity that I have."

Jones has shown good versatility by playing both middle and strong-side linebacker spots this fall.

Kennard, who missed most of his senior year in high school with a torn ACL and meniscus, has been solid this fall and displayed the quickness and strength that made him such a highly touted recruit.

"I am just grateful, bouncing back from my injury," Kennard said. "This is where I want to be and I worked hard. It's nice know that I am going to have the opportunity to play."

Both players said they arrived at USC determined to get early playing time and are thrilled to be in a position to contribute as freshmen.

"I am just really humbled. It's a great feeling to know that I have the opportunity to be out there," Kennard said. "I have great players ahead of me but I try to compete everyday and do my best."

Hot Reads

- Pete Carroll announced at his weekly press conference that Joe McKnight would be the Trojans' starting tailback against San Jose State.

"That feels good. This is my first time hearing that," McKnight said when asked about being the starter. "It was unexpected. It's very good news."

- Cornerback Brian Baucham has been absent from practice this week with the flu.

"He's got the flu," Carroll said. "He's at home as a matter of fact because he is so sick."

Carrolll was expecting Baucham to play the nickel position this Saturday but doesn't know if he will be available.

- After missing most of fall camp with an ankle injury, T.J. McDonald is back on the practice field and is a player that could contribute in his freshman season.

"It's good to see T.J. McDonald back out here. We are going to see how far we can take him. He's really bright," Carroll said. "We haven't seen very many plays of him but all of the impressions have been excellent, so we are hoping that he can pick things up and jump right in. We need him in special teams. We need him to help us out."

- Safety Drew McAllister always seems to be around the ball when given the opportunity. McAllister, who had three interceptions last season, intercepted Garrett Green during Saturday's scrimmage and picked off Aaron Corp today.

"It doesn't surprise anybody. Those guys are calling him "Hawk" out here because he hawks the football," Carroll said. "He's got a deserving kind of name there. He's really a good football player."

McAllister was limited during fall camp with a hamstring injury but will be in the mix at safety this season.

"He's right at the cusp of getting in right now," Carroll said. "We're excited about him. He's all over the field."

-Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley can expect to see plenty of blitzes from Dick Tomey's defense on Saturday.

"We come after all of them. We come after all quarterbacks," Tomey said, when asked about coming after the first-time starter. "I don't care if they play 5 years, 10 years, no years. That's just the way we have played."


Freshman DE Devon Kennard will get a chance to play against San Jose State.


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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at kevin@scplaybook.com



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