USC running back C.J. Gable says he’s staying in school


Mark Sanchez on Monday attended USC’s first team meeting since the Rose Bowl, but that doesn’t mean he will remain part of the team.

Thursday is the deadline for third-year sophomores and juniors to declare for the April draft. Sanchez said he remained undecided about whether he would return for his final season of eligibility or turn pro.

“I’m still thinking about it,” said Sanchez, who declined further comment.


Safety Taylor Mays also is considering turning pro. The All-American was on campus for the first day of spring semester classes but was not among the players who exited the meeting through Heritage Hall.

Tailback C.J. Gable said earlier in the day that he would remain with the Trojans rather than enter the draft.

“My mom wants me to finish school and I want to finish school too,” Gable said.

Gable expressed frustration several times during the season about his role in the tailback rotation. Joe McKnight, Stafon Johnson and Gable shared carries and each gained more than 600 yards.

Gable was upset after the regular-season finale against UCLA because he was benched after fumbling on the first offensive series. He also was removed from the rotation in the Rose Bowl after fumbling.

Gable, who will be a fourth-year junior next season, did not petition for a draft projection from the NFL, but met with Coach Pete Carroll last week to discuss his situation.

“If I could have graduated this year I would be gone,” said Gable, a sociology major.

Gable will be part of a tailback corps that is likely to include Johnson, McKnight, Marc Tyler, Allen Bradford and Curtis McNeal.

“I’m going to have to make a big improvement on my special teams and try and break out on that,” said Gable, who returns kickoffs. “That’s all I’m trying to focus on because I know running the ball is going to be the same rotation. I’m just going to work harder than ever.”

Johnson said after the Rose Bowl that he was definitely returning for his senior season because he wanted to win a national championship and achieve more personally. But in the nearly two weeks since, he said he has been inundated with advice to turn pro. Johnson said his draft projection was third round or above.

“For the most part, I’m here,” Johnson said Monday. “It’s 95%.”

Bradford, a fourth-year junior who is recovering from hip surgery, met Monday with offensive coordinator John Morton. Bradford said he was staying at USC and not thinking about transferring.

Barkley begins

Quarterback Matt Barkley began attending classes and said he was looking forward to spring practice. Barkley starred at Santa Ana Mater Dei High and in a recent national high school all-star game.

If Sanchez returns, Barkley probably would redshirt. If Sanchez leaves, Barkley is expected to compete with Aaron Corp, Mitch Mustain and Garrett Green to succeed him.

Asked if he eagerly awaited Sanchez’s decision, Barkley said, “Either way, I know I’ll be competing. So whatever happens, good luck to him.”

Quick kicks

Center Kristofer O’Dowd is scheduled to have shoulder surgery next week. He said he would miss spring practice. . . . Fullback Stanley Havili, who was academically ineligible to play in the Rose Bowl, attended classes Monday and said he would be eligible for spring practice. “Sometimes you have to learn the hard way,” he said. “I was more nervous watching the game than if I was playing in it.”