Linebacker Markus Steele, the junior college transfer whose arrival has been delayed by eligibility paperwork, will join the team today, Coach Paul Hackett said.
Steele is a potential starter at weakside linebacker, especially with Darryl Knight suspended for the opening game for academic reasons. Henry Wallace has been playing the position in camp during the five days of two-a-days Steele missed.
“He’s a ways [behind],” Hackett said of Steele, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior from Long Beach City College. Steele had 93 tackles and eight sacks last season, and also forced three fumbles and scored two touchdowns, one on a fumble recovery and the other off an interception.
Steele will practice in shorts a couple of days and probably participate in his first scrimmage early next week.
Receiver Craig Mitchell, another junior college transfer with paperwork problems, isn’t expected before next week.
Receiver R. Jay Soward left the field because of an injured right ankle during the morning practice--but returned in the afternoon and had his best practice so far.
“One thing about R. Jay, he’s a competitor,” Hackett said. “He’s going to bounce back.”
Soward caught just about everything thrown his way in the Trojans’ first informal scrimmage and had none of the trouble with drops that has plagued him.
“I’ve just got to catch the ball,” Soward said. “It’s been hard. The defensive backs have been on me, but I’ve got to keep working, keep getting better.
“We had some refs who weren’t afraid to throw the flag, and maybe that made the defense more cautious.”
Soward hurt his ankle when cornerback Darrell Rideaux stepped on his foot during a drill.
“Maybe I need to roll my ankle more,” Soward said.
He felt good enough after practice to stand on the field for a radio interview--although he laughed and feigned walking away when he was introduced as “R. Jay Soward of UCLA.”
Matt Welch, the starter at right tackle last season, has reinjured his shoulder after off-season surgery, leaving converted guard Travis Claridge without competition for the moment. It’s uncertain how long Welch will be out. . . . Freshman Bernard Riley has “an excellent chance” of being in the three-man rotation at defensive tackle, Hackett said, making him one of a large group of freshmen--led by the receivers--who are likely to get playing time. . . . Redshirt freshman Chad Pierson is pushing Brennan Ochs at fullback after Ochs sat out several days because of a sore ankle.