A freshman could start a season opener at tailback for USC for the first time in school history.
That possibility became greater Tuesday after junior Chauncey Washington completed nearly a full practice in full pads for the first time since re-injuring his left hamstring during the first week of training camp.
Asked if Washington could start Saturday at Arkansas, Coach Pete Carroll said, “No, I don’t think so.”
That means freshmen C.J. Gable, Allen Bradford and Emmanuel Moody, and junior Desmond Reed remain candidates to start. Freshman Stafon Johnson and sophomore Michael Coleman have been taking snaps with the scout team this week.
“We have a lot of guys working real hard for this,” Carroll said. “I’m happy to go with young guys and we’re prepared to do that.”
Washington, who is eligible for the first time since 2003, had opened training camp at the top of the depth chart. He said his condition has improved each day and he was ready to play.
“I believe I can start, but that decision is not mine,” he said.
Carroll said it was “fun” to have Washington practicing again, but cautioned that Washington’s rehabilitation to this point consisted mainly of conditioning.
“That’s different than getting banged around and playing, so we’ll just wait and see,” he said.
USC features one of the nation’s deepest linebacker corps, a bonus for a position group that already appears banged up.
On Tuesday, Brian Cushing sat out again because of back spasms, Kaluka Maiava remained sidelined because of a right shoulder injury and Dallas Sartz sat out most of practice because of lower body soreness.
The Trojans also held their breath when middle linebacker Rey Maualuga went down in a pile after a teammate tripped and rolled into Maualuga’s left knee.
“I was scared at first,” Maualuga said. “I tried to move my leg while I was on the ground and I couldn’t do it.”
Maualuga, however, got up, limped to the side and finished practice.
Cushing said he would return today and play Saturday. Sartz also said he would play, but Carroll said Maiava’s status was questionable.
Carroll and offensive line coach Pat Ruel are looking forward to returning to Fayetteville, Ark., where they were graduate assistants under Lou Holtz in 1977.
“That was a magical year,” Carroll said. “I was trying to keep Lou from yelling at me at the time.”
Ruel also has vivid memories.
“I was 15 pounds lighter and I had these red and white checkered pants, they looked like I stole them from an Italian restaurant,” Ruel said. “Pete and I had a blast.”
Receiver Dwayne Jarrett, who has been slowed by a left quadriceps injury, sat out most of practice because of a sore throat and was scheduled to see a doctor Tuesday night, Carroll said.... USC piped in crowd noise on a state-of-the-art sound system to give players a sense of what they would hear in 72,000-seat Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark. The recording featured fans belting Arkansas’ famous yell, “Woo, Pig! Sooie.”