Tailback Moody to transfer

Times Staff Writer

Tailback Emmanuel Moody, USC’s second-leading rusher last season, will transfer to another school, several sources said Wednesday.

Moody is one of three USC tailbacks who appear on the regional cover of Sports Illustrated’s college football preview edition. But amid continuing speculation that a 10-deep position group would cause one or more tailbacks to transfer, the sophomore from Texas was a no-show at practice and at evening team meetings.

Coach Pete Carroll declined to comment.

Moody could not be reached for comment, but he said last week that he “felt forgotten” coming into training camp because of an ankle injury that forced him to sit out the Trojans’ last four games and a hamstring injury that caused him to sit out nearly all of spring practice.

Moody had looked good in the first week, but he suffered a knee bruise in Sunday’s scrimmage at the Coliseum and did not practice Monday or Tuesday.

Moody did not attend Wednesday morning’s walkthrough. Afterward, when most players retire to the dorms to nap, Moody walked the campus talking on his cellphone.


After the Trojans began practice, Moody walked toward the dorm in a T-shirt and shorts. Asked if he was off to see a doctor, Moody said he was going to fill out paperwork and would have more tests on his knee.

USC’s tailback depth might have taken another hit on Wednesday.

Freshman Joe McKnight sprained his knee trying to block and retired to the trainers’ table for most of practice. McKnight said he would be out the rest of the week.

“I’ll be OK,” said McKnight, who was fitted with a brace.

Freshman Marc Tyler, who broke his leg last season, is not practicing and sixth-year senior Hershel Dennis has been held out because of knee soreness.

California receiver DeSean Jackson, a Heisman Trophy candidate, called out USC cornerback Terrell Thomas in the new issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Thomas and Jackson verbally sparred last season after the Trojans’ 23-9 victory over Cal at the Coliseum, a game in which Jackson caught two passes. Thomas had said that he shut Jackson down and the former Long Beach Poly star responded by yelling that USC had triple-teamed him with a cornerback, linebacker and a safety.

Asked about the Thomas incident, Jackson told writer Bruce Feldman, “That dude was just talkin’ to be talkin’. If Pete Carroll told his 10 other players to focus on everything else and it was just me and Terrell Thomas, oh man, I’d expose that dude. But being the best player, you gotta deal with that stuff. It just makes you better.”

Apprised of Jackson’s comments on Wednesday, Thomas said, “He had two catches and we won -- that’s all I care about. He can take it as an individual matchup. I enjoy the competition, but we play a team game. . . . It wasn’t just me. It was the whole defense.”

Jackson also said he would rather defeat the Trojans than win the Heisman.

“Honestly I don’t need to win it if we beat SC,” he said.

As USC shifts offensive line personnel because of injuries, the biggest surprise of training camp might be that Jeff Byers’ health is not part of the equation.

The 6-foot-4, 285-pound Byers is entrenched at left guard after injuries forced him to miss nearly all of the last two seasons.

“I haven’t felt this good since I got here,” he said.

Byers arrived at USC from Colorado in the fall of 2004 with a resume that included a national high school player of the year award. He came in as a center, but then-sophomore Ryan Kalil established himself as the starter and never relinquished the job for three seasons.

Byers, meanwhile, moved to guard. He started four games as a freshman but had hip surgery the following spring and was redshirted in 2005.

Last season, Byers played as a reserve in the opener against Arkansas. A back sprain before the second game against Nebraska forced him to miss the rest of the season.

Byers, a fourth-year junior, said he does not have any special motivation to prove that he can remain sound. “I’m just happy to be able to go out there and play the game and fight with these guys for a common goal,” he said.