March 11th marks the start of USC spring practice, a time when slates are swept clean and position battles begin anew. Steve Sarkisian and his new staff will get their first real look at the 2014 squad, which means Trojan fans also have a chance to start fresh evaluating the players who will make or break the new season.
This week at Reign Of Troy we’re taking a look at what to expect from each position group, now onto the running backs:
Seniors – D.J. Morgan (RS)
Juniors – Javorious Allen (RS), Tre Madden (RS), Jahleel Pinner*, Soma Vainuku (RS)*
Sophomores – Justin Davis, Ty Isaac
Freshmen – N/A
One of the more interesting battles of the spring will be waged among the running backs. Luckily for Steve Sarkisian’s plan to focus on the run game, it has less to do with having no front runner and more to do with having too many.
Over the course of the 2013 season, Tre Madden, Javorious “Buck” Allen and Justin Davis each proved themselves worthy of holding the title of leading man. None of the three are likely to lay down in a fight to keep that title.
Sarkisian produced two of the more successful backs in the Pac-12 during his tenure at Washington, Chris Polk and Bishop Sankey, but one noticeable feature of those rushing attacks was the existence of a very clear top dog.
This year, Sarkisian will be juggling three potential top dogs and that’s not even mentioning Ty Isaac, who earned enough hype coming out of high school to suggest he won’t straggle behind the pack for long.
Davis has the most ground to make up because of the Achilles injury which ended his season in 2013. At the same time, he probably has the highest ceiling of the group. It’s hard to argue with six touchdowns in six full games, and even then he was sharing the load with others. A strong spring could easily propel him to the top of the pile.
Madden and Allen, the veterans of the group, have both proven themselves versatile enough to revitalize their careers in the past year. There’s no reason to suspect they couldn’t also adjust to a new coaching staff and offense. With nearly identical numbers in 2013 and similar abilities in rushing and receiving, it almost feels like there may be a mini-battle between the two for a spot as the main starter or as one half of a duo.
At fullback, Soma Vainuku was one of the most improved players on the team last year and has a firm hold on the job.
Most Likely To Keep Their Starting Job: Javorious Allen
Most Likely To Lose Their Starting Job: Tre Madden
Most To Gain From Spring: Ty Isaac
Most To Lose From Spring: Javorious Allen
More position previews: