USC Football: Handicapping the Spring Trojan Running Backs
As USC enters "phase two" of the spring practice session, some units appear strong, and while rotation orders may still require clarification, for the most part, the main actors have been identified.
For a strong stable of 2013 Trojan running backs, this is only partially true.
Although the perception is that senior Silas Redd has the starting position locked down, his recent knee injury has somewhat muddled the expectations because with injuries, nothing can be taken for granted.
Still, Redd is expected to recover by the start of fall practice, and when he does, he will be the clear cut favorite to be the No. 1 guy in this stable of runners.
But who else will join Redd in the rotation?
This slideshow will look at some of the candidates that hope to make a difference for USC's running game this year.
A strong rushing attack will be crucial for any hopes the Trojans have for success in 2013, and while much depends on a stout offensive line and capable quarterback, the runners have to hold up their end of the bargain on that side of the ball.
Now let's find out what the pecking order of this unit will be.
Factors used to determine the order of this list include overall talent, experience, type of running back and reliability among other considerations.
No. 5: Justin Davis
True freshman Justin Davis came to USC a Scout.com 5-star running back out of Stockton, Calif. and he has wasted no time impressing his coaches in the spring portion of the practice camps.
In fact, head coach Lane Kiffin has been smitten by Davis, who, according to Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register, said, "Having Justin Davis here has been awesome. I think he’s going to be really good. He’s a very natural runner, a very good system fit because it’s very similar to the system he had in high school."
Davis has been solid, and certainly being an early enrollee has helped him, but let's not expect too much from him too soon.
With the other guys in this unit pressing for playing time, look for Kiffin to try to get a redshirt out of young Justin in 2013.
No. 4: Tre Madden
The assignment of the No. 4 slot in this slideshow to Tre Madden can only be described as "fluid" at this point of the year.
Madden, who is trying to come back from a serious knee injury, has not been cleared for contact in the spring, so his effectiveness is certainly in question and will continue to be until he goes full out in pads.
However, memories of Madden's impressive 2012 spring still linger in the coaches minds so expect his efforts to overcome the injury to be rewarded with a very long look in the fall.
But until he actually makes his debut in 2013 and proves he is all the way back, Madden will remain low on the list of prospective rushers.
No. 3: Javorious (Buck) Allen
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2013 spring camp has been Javorious (Buck) Allen.
Allen—a redshirt sophomore—has been largely ignored as a tailback for the Trojans, but that appears to have changed so far this spring.
After turning in a pair of very effective practices, Allen followed that up by being the leading rusher in the Trojans only spring scrimmage after turning in 11 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown performance.
Though these are not earth-shaking stats, it is obvious that Allen has entered 2013 with a different mindset, and he will be heard from before everything is said and done.
Don't be surprised if Allen moves up this list by the time the season starts.
No. 2: D.J. Morgan
Could this be the year that USC and their fans finally get to see the enormous potential of D.J. Morgan manifest itself?
Morgan, the Trojans' only true speed burner at the running back position, has been injury prone in his USC career, but so far he has managed to stay relatively healthy this spring.
After a couple of impressive performances in 2012, Morgan will be counted on to provide a change of pace from power backs such as Redd, Allen and Madden.
This spring, Morgan has been fairy pedestrian after rushing for eight yards on six carries during the Trojans' first scrimmage, but with his talent, he can find his way into the rotation because of his explosiveness.
Whether or not he actually does so remains to be seen.
No. 1: Silas Redd
The number one guy on this list should come as no surprise to anyone as Silas Redd is the best option the Trojans have in 2013.
After rushing for 905 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012, Redd has the credentials going forward as long as the offensive line produces holes for him to exploit.
The main concern for Redd is his durability as he missed one game last year altogether and had two other games where he carried the ball less than four times.
Now that he is nursing a balky knee which is preventing him participating in the spring camp, those concerns will continue as the season approaches.
But if he is right, Redd is an explosive and reliable back and one the Trojans can ride in 2013.
While this slideshow covered the running backs that are in spring camp for the Trojans, they do not represent the entirety of those who will be available to tote the rock for the cardinal and gold.
Arriving in fall will be Scout.com 5-star back Ty Issac, who is a 6'2", 220 pound beast.
Isaac will be given a long look by the staff, and while he likely won't see a lot of playing time in 2013, this guy will be a star for the Trojans sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, USC still has a bevy of talented runners, all eager to make their mark this year.
But despite the quality of this unit, they will still have to depend on a somewhat-questionable offensive line to give them adequate holes to run through.
Because if they don't, the Trojans stable of running backs will likely turn into a stall.