Stats: 9 games played, 7 rushing attempts for 26 yards, 8 receptions for 50 yards
What Stood Out: Soma Vainuku has been tasked with filling former fullback Stanley Havili’s shoes for the past two seasons, and those shoes still have lots of room for growth. Vainuku has yet to develop into a fullback that the Trojans can rely on like they did on Havili, but he is getting there. His blocking has improved from his practice form last season, and he has the size to be a menace once he has the ball in his hands, evidenced by his rushing and receiving longs of 11 and 16 yards respectively. The problem is getting the ball in his hands.
What Needed Work:: More than once in 2012, Vainuku had the opportunity to add a touchdown or two to his name and each time he came down with a severe case of paralysis in his hands. Vainuku seemingly dropped more passes than he caught, often passes that could have yielded a first down or a score for the Trojans. Coach Kiffin gave him opportunity after opportunity to redeem himself, and each time he failed to do so. Most notably, Vainuku dropped what would have been a crucial touchdown in the fourth quarter against Notre Dame. He has yet to prove himself a reliable target in USC’s offense, an element of the fullback position that the Trojans have been sorely missing.
Final Word: Vainuku has at least one more year to work on his skills, and if he spends the offseason working on his hands, he could very well be the fullback that USC needs in 2013. If he wants to see increased playing time next season, he has no other choice.