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Bradford Looks Good in Switch to Tailback

Times Staff Writer

USC’s two biggest tailbacks are working their way back from injuries, so Coach Pete Carroll requested and received a power boost Saturday.

Freshman Allen Bradford switched from safety to tailback to bolster the rushing corps and left little doubt that he could contribute at a position he starred at for Colton High.

On his first carry during team drills, the 6-foot, 230-pound Bradford broke off left tackle and cut to the sideline for a 40-yard gain.

“This is just to give us some insurance, and I think the experiment looked pretty good today,” Carroll said, grinning broadly. “I kind of liked it.”

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So did Bradford, who is wearing the No. 21 jersey last seen on the back of LenDale White.

Bradford, who averaged 13 yards a carry and rushed for 29 touchdowns during his final high school season, got two cameo carries Thursday but returned to defense.

Carroll said he proposed the switch to Bradford after Saturday’s morning workout because junior Chauncey Washington has been sidelined because of a hamstring injury and sophomore Michael Coleman is coming back from hip surgery.

Washington is expected to start running this week, and Coleman has been limited in practice.

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“We have always coveted the big-back deal and the hard running guys to go along with all the rest of the stuff we do, and I felt like we needed that without Chauncey and not knowing Michael’s durability situation,” Carroll said.

After Saturday’s performance in the afternoon workout, Bradford said he would play wherever the team needed him.

But when asked whether he preferred safety or running back, he said, “Probably running back because I know the team depends on me. Once the ball is in my hands I have control of what I do.”

Carroll, Bradford and running backs coach Todd McNair said Bradford could switch back to defense if Washington and Coleman return physically sound.

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McNair nurtured Reggie Bush and White during the previous two seasons and was impressed by what he saw in Bradford, who would complement smaller freshmen C.J. Gable, Stafon Johnson and Emmanuel Moody.

“I like a violent cat,” McNair said. “He gets downhill and showed some stuff we already knew he had.”

Bradford’s move affects the Trojans’ depth at safety, leaving freshmen Antwine Perez, Taylor Mays and Alfred Rowe as candidates to back up starters Josh Pinkard and Kevin Ellison.

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USC will scrimmage at Howard Jones Field at 7:30 p.m. today ... Offensive lineman Chilo Rachal suffered a mild concussion Friday and will sit out a few days, Carroll said.... Running back Desmond Reed, who had his surgically repaired knee evaluated Friday, did not attend practice. Carroll said he did not know the results of Reed’s evaluation.... The Trojans went to Knott’s Berry Farm after practice.


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