According to USCFootball.com’s Ryan Abraham and other practice reports on Twitter, Trojans fullback and special teams star Soma Vainuku took reps as the third string running back at practice Tuesday.
With injuries to Silas Redd, Tre Madden, Justin Davis and DJ Morgan, USC is looking particularly thin at tailback after beginning the season with a stable of able-bodied runners. Davis and Morgan are out for the season, while Redd and Madden are still in doubt for Saturday.
That leaves USC with two healthy scholarship running backs, thus necessitating the inclusion of Vainuku, who has grown this season as a fullback and has excelled in special teams.
If Madden can’t go, looks like Vainuku would be the 3rd tailback. #USC
— Ryan Abraham (@insidetroy) November 13, 2013
While Vainuku’s presence in the running back rotation is cause for concern because it shows just how thin the Trojans are at key positions, it could also be a blessing in disguise. Against the powerful Stanford defensive front, USC will need as physical a presence on the ground as they can muster.
In high school, Vainuku was on a number of All-Prep first teams as a linebacker and fullback. At Eureka High School he rushed for 2,202 yards on 252 carries and scored 38 touchdowns, helping his team to the 2009 CIF North Coast Division II title.