USC Football: Will James Toland IV Be USC's Running Back Savior in 2015?

Rick McMahan@@RickMcMahanSenior Writer IMay 27, 2014

Tre Madden
Tre MaddenRick Scuteri/Associated Press

It wasn't so long ago that running back was perceived to be one of the deepest and strongest units for the 2014 Trojans.

And while that may still be the case this year, there are potential problems looming on the horizon in 2015 and perhaps beyond.

The trouble started when the school announced that sophomore running back Ty Isaac would be transferring closer to his Illinois home.

Though he is a very good back, in and of itself, USC could absorb his loss in a typical year when a focus could be made on replenishing the unit through this year's recruiting class.

However, as I wrote about not so long ago, this is not a strong year for high school running backs, and USC has not extended much in the way of offers to this position in 2014.

In fact, it would not be a surprise if the Trojans signed only one or perhaps did not sign any running backs in this class, and if this is the case, it could mean problems down the road.

Of course, I could be accused of doing my best impersonation of Chicken Little running around claiming the sky is falling when in reality, everything could work out just fine.

After all, USC has three outstanding running backs on scholarship in 2014, and not one of them is a senior.

Both Javorius "Buck" Allen and Tre Madden are redshirt juniors, and Justin Davis is only a sophomore, which means, in theory, that all could be back in 2015.

That is the best scenario for the Trojans, but what if everything goes to hell and both Allen and Madden declare for the NFL following this season?

That would leave Davisand a mystery running back recruit(s)as the only scholarship ball-carriers on USC's roster in 2015.

And that, my friend, is a scary thought for those who follow the men of Troy.

Still, things may not be quite as dire as they would appear.

USC will have one other option, and while his name might not be familiar to many, those who saw him in high school and even in the recently completed spring practice know him well.

Meet James Toland IV, and he might just wind up being the guy the Trojans turn to in 2015 when it comes to running the rock.

Though only a walk-on, Toland possesses scholarship ability.

At 6'0", 185 pounds, Toland is a quick, strong, elusive runner, and the only reason this kid wasn't a big-time recruit is because he played his ball at a small high school called Shadow Hills in Indio, California.

But man, did he play well, as evidenced by some truly eye-popping statistics in 2012, when he ran for 2,649 yards on 315 carries (8.4 yards per carry) andget this39 touchdowns.

I don't care if you're playing the little sisters of the poor; those are some big numbers.

According to The Desert Sun's Andrew L. John (courtesy of USA Today High School Sports), Toland had only one verbal offer (from Pittsburgh) when he decided to accept a preferred walk-on offer to join the Trojans.

For Toland, accepting the offer was a no-brainer, as John quotes him as saying, "I've been a USC fan since I was 8 years old. So this is a dream come true for me. I'm going to make the most of it."

So far, Toland has done just that, and when 2015 rolls around, USC may be very happy that he took the Trojans up on their offer.

Because if things go wrong next year, USC may be turning to the guy with big numbers from a small school.

And if Toland has his way, that may not be a bad thing after all.


Follow me on Twitter: @RickMcMahan