The Trojan football program gained a new member on Friday, in the form of running back James Toland IV of Shadow Hills High School, according to MyDesert.com
Toland, a six-foot five, 185-pound tailback, rushed for an incredible 2,649 yards and 39 touchdowns as a senior last season and now joins the Trojans as a preferred walk-on. This fall, he will compete for a spot on USC’s 66-man roster.
“I’ve been a USC fan since I was 8 years old,” Toland told MyDesert.com. “So this is a dream come true for me. I’m going to make the most of it.”
So for a kid with such staggering numbers, why haven’t we heard of him before?
Shadow Hills High just wrapped up its third season ever with varsity football, and has yet to establish strong roots in the fertile ground that makes up the Southern California recruiting landscape. Toland flew under the radar, only receiving a verbal offer from Pittsburgh that ultimately fell through.
USC first reached out to the Indio native following his graduation from high school in late May, when offensive line coach James Cregg contacted Knights head coach Ron Shipley about Toland. Prior to that though, the Trojans had seen him in action before but on the other side of the ball; he ran a blistering 4.4-second 40-yard dash at a USC football camp last summer, and Lane Kiffin took notice. However he participated in the camp only as a defensive back, so no one got to see what he could do with a ball in his hands.
With the NCAA scholarship sanction still in full effect for USC, the Trojans had to get creative in welcoming him to the team, hence his preferred walk-on status. His mother told MyDesert.com that his tuition is being paid mostly through grants and scholarships at this time.
Toland will be unable to redshirt in 2013, so he will compete for a spot behind starter Silas Redd with fellow running backs D.J. Morgan, Tre Madden Justin Davis, Buck Allen, and Ty Isaac.