Trojans’ Stanley Havili says he’ll be back
Several USC juniors will consider making themselves available for the NFL draft after the Trojans play a bowl game later this month.
Fullback Stanley Havili said Wednesday he would not be among them.
“I need to come back,” he said.
Havili, who suffered a midseason shoulder injury that sidelined him for two games and slowed him for two more, surprisingly was projected by the Sporting News last month as a possible late first-round pick in the April draft.
Havili was unmoved.
“I have a lot of developing to do,” he said. “I need to show parts of my game that I haven’t been able to show yet.”
The 6-foot-1, 230-pound Havili is hoping to finish the regular season Saturday with a flourish against Arizona, an opponent that has figured prominently in his career.
As a true freshman in 2006, Havili started the Pacific 10 Conference opener at Arizona and caught four passes before suffering a season-ending broken leg.
Two years ago, in former roommate Mark Sanchez’s first start at quarterback, Havili’s fiery in-huddle speech to the offensive line helped propel the Trojans to a long fourth-quarter drive and victory-securing field goal at the Coliseum.
Last season at Tucson, Havili caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Sanchez on a play largely remembered for tailback Stafon Johnson’s outstanding block on a blitzing defender.
Havili has caught 16 passes in nine games this season. He was unable to play in the loss at Oregon and was not at full strength in the loss to Stanford.
“I want to come back and win,” he said. “I came here to win.”
First-year quarterbacks coach and play-caller Jeremy Bates, who spent the first seven years of his coaching career in the NFL, also could draw interest from pro teams when the coaching carousel starts to turn.
Bates downplayed speculation that Mike Shanahan, his former boss with the Denver Broncos, might gauge his interest if Shanahan returns to the league next season.
“We’re focused on Arizona,” Bates said.
Coach Pete Carroll, however, would not be surprised if the NFL tries to woo the 33-year-old Bates.
“That could certainly happen,” Carroll said. “He’s highly regarded and he’s done enough work in the league that guys know.”
USC’s offense has struggled for most of the last four games. The Trojans rank fourth in the Pac-10 in rushing, but sixth in total offense, passing and scoring.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” Bates said.
Bates was responsible for calling the controversial pass play that ended the Trojans’ 28-7 victory over UCLA.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley had taken a knee with 54 seconds left, indicating that USC was willing to run out the clock, but UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel countered by calling a timeout, one of three he had at his disposal.
Asked how he decided to call the play that resulted in a 48-yard touchdown to Damian Williams, Bates said: “That was on the call sheet and that’s what we went with and it was well executed and we scored. It was good.”
Tailback Joe McKnight (thigh) tried to practice, but his availability on Saturday could be a game-time decision, Carroll said.