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Carroll Watching Wright’s Moves

Times Staff Writer

With USC’s cornerback situation a concern heading into the season, redshirt freshman Eric Wright’s development has been of primary interest to Coach Pete Carroll during training camp.

“He’s a guy I’ve had my eye on the whole time,” Carroll said Friday.

Wright sat out last season after having hamstring surgery in August. He impressed during spring practice and worked with the first unit for most of the week because Kevin Arbet and Ronald Nunn were experiencing sore legs.

Wright is anticipating a major on-field exam today when the Trojans scrimmage for the second time.

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“You know they’re going to put you in certain situations to test you,” Wright said.

Arbet, a sixth-year senior, and Nunn, a fifth-year senior, are in line to start the opener against Virginia Tech because of their experience. Their durability over the course of the season, however, remains a concern.

Surgery on his right foot ended each of Arbet’s last two seasons. Nunn had major knee surgery in 2002.

Wright, 5 feet 11 and 190 pounds, played running back and free safety at San Francisco Riordan High. He said the injury that forced him to redshirt last season probably accelerated his development at cornerback.

“I was able to sit back in meetings and learn from the other guys

“So when I came out in the spring, I was ready to play.”

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As expected, receiver Mike Williams did not practice again and Carroll said the All-American would not rejoin the Trojans until the NCAA makes a decision regarding USC’s request for a progress-toward-degree waiver and reinstatement of eligibility.

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Earlier this week, Carroll said that Williams wanted to continue practicing. But Carroll opted to move forward without him for now. “I didn’t give him a whole lot of choice on this thing,” Carroll said.

Carroll said Williams spent Friday assembling final information for the NCAA regarding amateurism issues.

With Williams gone -- for a week, a few games or possibly the season -- Carroll said receiver was “by far the biggest question mark on the team.”

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Sophomore center Ryan Kalil appears to be holding off a challenge from heralded freshman Jeff Byers, and sophomore Fred Matua (right guard) and redshirt freshman Sam Baker (left tackle) are maintaining their starting positions.

Senior John Drake (left guard) and junior college transfer Taitusi Lutui (right tackle) continued to work with the first unit.

Drake, who had off-season ankle surgery, started five games at right guard and two games at right tackle last season.

“I like playing guard better than tackle,” Drake said. “There’s more action inside and I can get to everybody.”

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Freshman defensive lineman Jeff Schweiger sat out most of the afternoon practice because of a sprained ankle.


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