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Trio of tailbacks is off to running start

Times Staff Writer

Allen Bradford, Chauncey Washington and Joe McKnight, three of USC’s seemingly endless supply of tailbacks, wasted no time making a pitch for playing time Monday as the Trojans began preparation for their Sept. 1 opener against Idaho.

Bradford, the fast and powerful sophomore, stiff-armed defenders and rambled for several long gains during the Trojans’ first full-squad practice -- a 2 1/2 -hour, no-pads workout. Bradford said he was playing as if he had “a chip on my shoulder,” and was intent on proving that he was capable of grasping the offense after switching between defense and offense last season.

“I know we’re all probably going to get about four plays, so within four plays I’m just trying to do what I can,” he said.

Washington, the Trojans’ leading rusher last season despite several leg injuries, looked swift and fit. The fifth-year senior said he weighed 240 pounds after the Rose Bowl but was at 216 on Monday.

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“I’m in the best shape of my life,” he said.

McKnight showed the fluidity and speed that made him one of the nation’s top recruits. “It’s early, but he may have a different gear,” running backs coach Todd McNair said, grinning.

Freshmen running backs Marc Tyler and Broderick Green -- and freshman receiver Brandon Carswell -- were not allowed to practice because they are awaiting certification from the NCAA Clearinghouse, Coach Pete Carroll said.

A large, cardinal and gold number “19" was stenciled into the end zones in honor of Mario Danelo, the Trojans’ record-setting kicker who died in January.

“It’s a tribute to somebody that we really miss and that we love. . . . In some ways it’s just a demonstration of his spirit and that he’s with us,” Carroll said.

Right tackle Drew Radovich did not practice because of a back injury suffered lifting weights during the summer, but said he would not be out long. . . . Josh Pinkard, who is coming back from a season-ending knee injury, worked at safety and cornerback. Pinkard, arrested in May on suspicion of driving under the influence, is scheduled to be arraigned this month. He declined to comment about his legal situation. . . . Quarterback Mitch Mustain must redshirt after transferring from Arkansas, but he was happy to finally get onto the field for an official practice. “It’s what I expected,” he said. “I had fun and I’m looking forward to getting into pads.”. . . The Trojans conducted a fast-paced morning “walk-through,” which under NCAA rules cannot include footballs, blocking sleds or other football equipment.

gary.klein@latimes.com


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