Sorting the remnants of a once crowded backfield

In 2007, a preseason Sports Illustrated cover featured running backs Emmanuel Moody, Chauncey Washington, and C.J. Gable.  The issue wasn’t wide enough for the additions of Stafon Johnson, Joe McKnight, Broderick Green, Allen Bradford, and Marc Tyler.  It was the deepest unit in the country, and has remained that way for years.  At the time of that publication, questions arose over Pete Carroll’s ability to keep so many runners happy with just one football.  Looking back now, he didn’t.  Moody transferred out of the program and into Florida.  Broderick Green is now featured by the Arkansas Razorbacks.  And as for Gable, he went from cover boy to the coach’s doghouse.

Here we are, bidding farewell to 2009. Chauncey Washington has long graduated, and with the exception of Stafon Johnson, there isn’t another Trojan running back with eligibility run dry.  And even so, Johnson still has the medical redshirt option at his disposal.  A crowded backfield from 2007 remains the same today.  And as every December brings a look ahead, it’s time to sift through USC’s horses to get a glimpse of 2010.

Joe McKnight has already made his decision.  After recording his first 1,000 yard rushing season at USC, he has already decided not to seek NFL evaluation and return for his senior year.  This move was proper, as he’s becoming a better NFL prospect with each year in the program.  And if the progression keeps pace from one year to the next, McKnight can easily be one of college football’s greatest impact players next fall.   Returning with him is Stanley Havili, arguably the best all-purpose fullback in the country.

The future of C.J. Gable remains unknown.  With a year of eligibility remaining, he has filed his paperwork requesting an NFL evaluation.  It’s been a very odd turn of events for a player that many considered the stable’s best horse in 2008.  In that year, Gable started the majority of games, was the best pass blocking back, and ran for 617 yards.  Since then, for reason’s only known to Gable and Pete Carroll, he appears to have been bounced to the Trojan doghouse, receiving just twelve rushing touches all year, and being relegated to kick return duty.  If the NFL feedback shows a projection anywhere in top three rounds, I can’t find any reason for him to stay, and would wish him well in his departure.

Marc Tyler, Allen Bradford, and Curtis McNeal make up the list of underclassmen returning in 2010, and each is as explosive as the draft eligible backs making future decisions.  My belief is that Gable will make the NFL leap, with Johnson returning to join this group.  That would leave Pete Carroll with six exceptional runners behind a developing star quarterback.  With wide receiver Ronald Johnson already announcing his return, and the slim possibility that Damian Williams may do the same, USC’s future may be a lot brighter than it was in 2009.  Is it Fall yet?

[OC Register]


~ by Anthony on December 15, 2009.

One Response to “Sorting the remnants of a once crowded backfield”

  1. too early to get excited. this team struggled most of the year on offense and things seemed to get worse as the season progressed. the QB coach should be replaced. also, the D might have a lot of holes. i’m not looking forward to next season yet until we see how recruiting and coaching replacement goes. also, pete needs to bring back his philosophy of the best player plays and these players need more coaching and development. sorry barkley, your time will come but it’s just too soon.

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