Washington says he’s ready to rumble

Times Staff Writer

USC tailback Chauncey Washington was supposed to start the season opener against Idaho, but he suffered a shoulder sprain in the Trojans’ final training camp scrimmage.

On Wednesday, the fifth-year senior returned to full-contact drills for the first time in three weeks and proclaimed himself ready to play on Saturday against No. 14 Nebraska.

“I’m ready,” Washington said. “I feel fast.”

Washington is not expected to supplant C.J. Gable as the starter, but he will be part of a rotation that will also include Stafon Johnson, Joe McKnight and, possibly, Allen Bradford.


Washington led the Trojans in rushing last season despite hamstring and other leg injuries.

In the Rose Bowl against Michigan, the 6-foot-1 Washington weighed close to 240 pounds and carried only two times for eight yards against the Wolverines.

Washington reported for training camp at 216 pounds and has maintained the lower weight despite being sidelined. He said he used mind over matter to come back from the shoulder sprain and was excited about absorbing hits during practice.

“It felt good,” he said. “I was happy to be out there.”

Coach Pete Carroll said Washington was in, “the best shape of his life,” and was eager to see him contribute.

Linebacker Clay Matthews comes from a family steeped in Trojans history.

His father, Clay, was an All-American linebacker in 1977 and his uncle, Bruce, was an All-American offensive lineman in 1982. Both enjoyed long NFL careers. His brother Kyle lettered as a walk-on defensive back in 2003.

Matthews is proud of his background but said, “I don’t like to get too much into the whole family thing. I like being my own man.”

Matthews, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound fourth-year junior, made a name for himself within the program by progressing from a walk-on, to a scholarship player to a probable starting role against Nebraska.

With Brian Cushing still nursing the sprained ankle he suffered against Idaho, Matthews continued to work with the first-unit defense.

“It’s a perfect opportunity for me to come out and show what I have and make the coaches feel comfortable,” he said.

Carroll said Matthews was, “primed for this,” adding, “This is what depth is all about. . . to be able to jump up with a guy that we trust and believe in and has been there when you don’t have a guy that has to step aside.”

Cushing was limited Wednesday and said his availability could be a game-time decision.

“There’s a big difference between walking and actually coming out here and playing full speed in every direction,” he said.

“I’m sure once the adrenaline kicks in Saturday, that’s a whole different story.”

Receiver Patrick Turner participated in all drills and said he was fully recovered from a neck injury that caused a pinched nerve in his shoulder. . . . Bradford returned to practice after sitting out most of Tuesday because of a knee bruise. . . . Senior Drew Radovich and sophomore Charles Brown continued to alternate at right tackle. . . . The Trojans will have a short practice this afternoon, then leave for the airport to board a charter to Omaha. The team will practice Friday at a local high school and then have a walk-through at Memorial Stadium. . . . ESPN’s “College GameDay” will originate from Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday.