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Moody makes sure that he’s not forgotten

Times Staff Writer

By most measures, tailback Emmanuel Moody enjoyed a productive first season at USC.

The sophomore from Texas started four games, averaged nearly six yards per carry and finished second on the team in rushing in 2006.

But after missing the last four games because of an ankle sprain and sitting out nearly all of spring practice because of a hamstring injury, Moody sensed that he was overlooked going into training camp.

The buzz concerned three incoming freshmen and a depth chart bloated to 10-deep.

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“I felt forgotten, like they forgot what I did last year,” Moody said Friday. “So I have to prove myself again.”

Moody has switched his jersey number from 26 to 28, but he showed his familiar flash while breaking free for several impressive runs during the Trojans’ first full-pads workout.

“He’s pretty much got that shake-and-bake thing that we saw last year,” Coach Pete Carroll said. “He gets going and you give him a little space, he’s really dangerous.”

Moody hopes to carve out a major role despite the abundance of talent. There is a spirited sense of competition and camaraderie among the tailback corps, but only so many carries can be doled out in games.

“It’s going to come down to there’s only one ball, and only one guy can get in for each play,” he said. “Guys are relaxed now, but when game time comes there are going to be a lot of heads down.”

Sophomore Stafon Johnson might have more to smile about this season if he continues his recent performance and work ethic. Johnson, who had three carries last season, had another strong performance Friday.

“This is a like a whole new guy,” Carroll said, adding, “He’s done everything to the max in every single practice, so I’m really fired up for him because now we can see who he is and what he’s all about. . . . He’s got some stuff.”

Sophomore C.J. Gable also looked strong on Friday.

Freshman Marc Tyler, who suffered a broken leg as a high school senior, was held out again, and Carroll said it might take “a few weeks” to further heal the spaces where surgical screws were removed.

Sophomore Charles Brown continues to work at right tackle with the first-team offense in place of senior Drew Radovich.

Radovich said that his sore back was feeling better and that he would not need surgery, but he did not set a timetable for his return. The fifth-year senior from Mission Viejo has taken two epidural injections in the last few weeks.

“Three days ago I was walking around like a zombie,” he said. “Now I can run around a little bit with no shooting pains.”

It has not taken long for freshman linebacker Chris Galippo to make an impression.

Junior middle linebacker Rey Maualuga said the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Galippo is far more advanced than he was when he arrived at USC in 2005.

“He knows where to go and what to do,” Maualuga said. “He’s on top of his game.”

Still, Maualuga, Keith Rivers, Brian Cushing and other veterans are tutoring Galippo and fellow freshman linebacker Malcolm Smith, the brother of former USC receiver Steve Smith.

Under the direction of linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr., the lessons begin in the meeting room and carry over to the practice field, in much the same way that Maualuga learned from former teammates Oscar Lua and Collin Ashton.

“He knows he can just get better and better,” Maualuga said of Galippo.

Redshirt freshman receiver David Ausberry caught two touchdown passes during team drills near the end of practice. Freshman receiver Brandon Carswell returned, but redshirt freshman receiver Jamere Holland did not practice while recovering from a violent hit that was delivered by safety Will Harris on Thursday. Harris also was held out. Running back Hershel Dennis (knee) did not practice for the second day. . . . USC’s scrimmage on Aug. 22 at the Coliseum will begin at 7:15 p.m. and is open to the public. Admission is free. . . . USC and the Los Angeles Sports Council Foundation are accepting donations for the 15th annual “Touchdown for Youth” program. A $30 tax-deductible contribution helps send underprivileged youths to USC’s Sept. 1 opener. Information: (213) 482-6333.

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gary.klein@latimes.com


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