USC football enters spring practice with a great situation at running back, featuring an experienced veteran and a bright young star.
With USC football’s 2016 spring camp due to begin Tuesday, it’s time to look forward to preparations for the new season.
Back in 2013, Tommie Robinson helped both Tre Madden and Buck Allen reach great heights. Now he is back on staff and set to bring USC’s promising running back group to the forefront.
Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II
Departing (1): Tre MaddenReturning (4): Justin Davis, Dominic Davis, Ronald Jones II, Aca’Cedric WareEarly Enrollees (0): N/AIncoming Freshmen (1): Vavae Malepeai
Though the Trojans lose the services of Tre Madden, his injury record means they’re well-equipped to handle his absence.
Justin Davis earned an All-Pac-12 honorable mention in 2015, running for 902 yards and seven touchdowns in eight starts. Since his bright beginnings as a freshman was cut short by an ankle injury, Davis has played second fiddle to other Trojan backs.
The emergence of Ronald Jones II last season means that Davis may once again find himself in second place. Jones led the team with 987 yards and nine total touchdowns in 2015. His breakout was complete with exceptional between the tackles running and homerun ability. However, his grasp of all-around concepts needed to be an every down back limited his participation.
An offseason of further learning and development could see him achieve a stranglehold on the starting job.
Fellow sophomores Dominic Davis and Aca’Cedric Ware will use the spring trying to find their place in the Trojan offense.
Both Ware and Davis saw action in the early part of 2015, but their participation waned as the season went on. This spring Ware will be looking to fill the space left by Madden as the third back in the rotation while Davis’ unique skillset could see him deployed as a slot receiver and pass catching option.
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Biggest Battle: Justin Davis vs. Ronald Jones II
Davis has the edge with greater reliability as a blocker and receiving option, but Jones is so talented a runner at this early part of his career that it would not be a surprise to see him make up significant ground on his counterpart this spring.
Of course, Davis proved a capable runner at the tail end of the 2015 season and has put in strong performances during past spring camps. The question is whether or not he will bring enough to the table to fend off Jones’ advances.
Most to Gain: Dominic Davis
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There seemed to be an effort to get Davis involved at points in 2015, but he wasn’t able to stick as a feature of the offense.
With Adoree’ Jackson focusing on track this spring, the Trojans will turn to other players to fill his role as a dangerman on swing passes and screens. Davis has the skillset to sub in there and establish himself as a potential playmaker going forward.
Most to Lose: Justin Davis
Though it is more than likely that Davis and Jones will enter the season as a running back duo, the younger back has the ability to reign supreme as the main man. Davis cannot afford to fall behind.