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Ellis says he’s coming back

Times Staff Writer

USC nose tackle Sedrick Ellis said Sunday that he would return for his final season of eligibility, leaving All-American receiver Dwayne Jarrett as perhaps the Trojans’ only draft-eligible junior who might turn pro.

“I think I can mature more as a football player and a person,” Ellis said after practice. “It’s only one more year. How bad can one more year be?”

Running back Chauncey Washington and All-American offensive lineman Sam Baker told The Times on Saturday that they would be back in 2007. Defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson had informed Coach Pete Carroll of his decision to stay late last week, and linebacker Keith Rivers has said he intends to return.

The decisions to remain in college are in marked contrast to last season, when five juniors opted to make themselves available for the NFL draft after the Trojans lost to Texas in the Bowl Championship Series title game. Jarrett has said he will not decide until after the Rose Bowl game against Michigan.

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Ellis, who sat out three games because of a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery, said that Jackson’s decision to stay influenced him to also remain at USC.

“That finalized it,” said Ellis, who roomed with Jackson as a freshman and sophomore. “That put the laminate sealing on it.”

Ellis said he was looking forward to resting his knee during the off-season and competing for a national title in 2007. Linebackers Dallas Sartz and Oscar Lua are the only seniors leaving a defense that is expected to be among the nation’s best next season.

“I’m having lots of fun as far as football, and the coaches are showing me all kinds of trust on the field, allowing me to do a lot of things,” Ellis said. “It’s really cool. I don’t mind staying for another year before I go back to the bottom of the barrel at the next level.”

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Offensive lineman Matt Spanos, a fourth-year junior who was academically ineligible this season, is taking repetitions with hopes of playing in the Rose Bowl. Carroll said Spanos would be eligible because finals for the fall semester conclude this week. Spanos had been expected to compete for a possible starting role at right tackle this season.... Receiver Chris McFoy sat out for a second day because of a high ankle sprain suffered against UCLA. McFoy said he would practice when the Trojans resume workouts on Thursday.

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gary.klein@latimes.com


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