Tre Madden’s move from linebacker to tailback is big for USC

USC’s Tre Madden, moved this week from linebacker to tailback, appears more than comfortable at the new position.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise.

His father, Curtis, played fullback at Kansas State, his grandfather Lawrence McCutcheon was a Pro Bowl running back for the Los Angeles Rams, and his uncle, Daylon McCutcheon, was an outstanding running back at La Puente Bishop Amat High before playing cornerback at USC and in the NFL.

Madden impressed again Thursday during a physical full-pads practice, running with power and speed and also consistently catching the ball out of the backfield.

“Exciting prospect to have there, giving us some size that we really want to have,” Coach Lane Kiffin said of the 6-foot, 226-pound Madden. “And so hopefully he can do it.”

Madden joined a tailback corps that includes only three other scholarship tailbacks: Senior Curtis McNeal, the returning starter, rushed for 1,005 yards in 2011; third-year sophomore D.J. Morgan started the first two games last season; Javorious Allen redshirted last season as a freshman and has been sidelined because of a hamstring injury.

Madden, a sophomore, played quarterback in the Wildcat formation at Mission Viejo High, rushing for 310 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior. He also passed for two touchdowns.

After watching the speedy Madden make several standout plays Thursday, Kiffin said he had the instincts and “ball skills” to be successful at tailback if he can avoid fumbling.

Linebacker Dion Bailey has no doubt that his former backup could be successful on offense.

“We don’t really have that big physical aspect in the backfield right now and Tre’s bringing that,” Bailey said. “It’s looking like a brilliant move.”

Bailey, slowed by a hamstring strain Thursday, hopes to practice against Madden on Saturday when the Trojans scrimmage at the Coliseum.

“He’s a load,” Bailey said. “He’s really fast, so I better bring it.”

Walker enjoying work

Sophomore tackle Aundrey Walker has said that he doesn’t care whether he plays right tackle or left tackle, as long as he is in the lineup.

But after playing on the right side the first week of workouts, the 6-6, 320-pound sophomore is enjoying his turn this week on the left.

“I’m right-handed, so being in a left-handed stance was kind of awkward, but I can work with it,” he said. “Actually it’s cool now. I worked on it a lot [Wednesday] and have been going over the plays so I feel comfortable.”

Quick hits

Safety T.J. McDonald and tackle George Uko were defensive standouts Thursday. ... Kiffin, when asked about the Trojans’ defense being ahead of the offense so far, said, “I think the gap’s closing.” Then he paused for a moment and said, “I just used that term. Never used that. The gap closed.” Last November, a few days before USC played UCLA, former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said, “We have closed the gap more with ‘SC.” The Trojans won, 50-0.