USC recruiting 2002-2009 pt3 Running Backs

The third part of my on going series focuses on the position USC is most famous for, the running back.

RBs (The descriptions are what Rivals had them listed as coming out of HS)
2002 Hershel Dennis All purpose Back
2002 Brandon Hancock Fullback
2003 Reggie Bush Running Back
2003 Chauncey Washington Running back
2003 LenDale White Running back
2003 Desmond Reed Running back/defensive back
2004 Ryan Powdrell Linebacker/Fullback
2006 Kenny Ashley Running back
2006 Stanley Havili Fullback
2006 Stafon Johnson Running back
2006 Emmanuel Moody Running back
2006 C.J. Gable Athlete
2006 Allen Bradford Outside Linebacker
2007 Broderick Green Running back
2007 Joe McKnight Running back
2007 Marc Tyler Running back
2007 D.J. Shoemate Athlete
2008 Brian Baucham All purpose Back
2008 Curtis McNeal All purpose Back
2009 Simione Vehikite Fullback

USC is historically known as Tailback U, but when PC arrived in 2001 the cupboard was pretty bare. The starter in 2001 was Sultan McCullough a man known mostly for his track speed. Injuries bothered him most of the season and by the end of the year USC was starting a converted full back in Sunny Byrd at tailback. Pete's first recruiting class only brought in one running back in Hershel Dennis, considered a top all purpose back out of SoCal football powerhouse Long Beach Poly. The 01 Trojans also benefitted from having Michigan transfer Justin Fargas eligible, and a healthier Sultan McCullough. With Fargas and McCullough departing, Pete brought in Reggie Bush, Lendale White and Chauncey Washington. The first two who created a magical combination he's been trying to replicate since. Washington's career was set back by academic difficulties (learning disability) and injuries. 2006 was another big year as the Trojans brought in 6 HS All Americans, although Bradford was initially recruited as a LBer and not a RB. Moody, Johnson and Gable would all split time with Washington in 2006 in what was the Trojans worst rushing offense since 2001. Moody would end up transferring to Florida after the season. 2007 saw the arrival of power back Broderick Green and supposed Bush clone Joe McKnight. Green saw little playing time and later transferred to Arkansas, Tyler redshirted, and DJ Shoemate who was brought in as a WR was converted to FB out of neccessity. Out of the last group only McNeal has seen any real playing time.

Pete has pretty much had his pick of the litter when it has come to running backs the last few years which makes it somewhat hard to say at first glance if there is a pattern. You have your bruisers in White, Bradford, Washington, and Green. And your speed guys in Bush, McKnight, Tyler and McNeal. And then a bunch of guys who are kind of in between in Dennis, Johnson, Gable. If there was one position where Pete could be accused of playing favorites it was running back. Moody, Bradford, Green, Gable and to some extent Tyler probably all got stuck on the bench while watching Washington plod ahead for 3 yards or Joe McKnight dance for a loss of 7 or worse, fumble. After Reggie, Pete seemed almost enamored with trying to find another guy who could potentially turn every play in to a long TD, a burden that I think Joe McKnight was unfortunately saddled with. Despite this criticism, the play calling generally fit the skill set of the back on the field and in short yardage and goal line situations Pete LOVES to have a straight ahead, power runner to call upon (not necessarily a "big" back as evidence by all the goal line TDs Stafon Johnson got). I would certainly expect for PC to eventually move to some kind of 2 back rotation with a shifty/speed guy and a straight ahead/power guy. Also look for full backs to be used as both blockers and receivers.


I think it also is worth mentioning that Fullbacks have always been a part of the offense since PC has been there. Whether it was 2001 when Sunny Byrd went from FB to starting TB, to 2009 where Stanley Havili lined up as a tailback, fullback, and even slot receiver at times, the full back is involved. Even when the Trojans had more traditional fullbacks than Havili they were still always expected to be both good run blockers and viable pass catchers out of the back field.

How this applies to the current roster/draft prospects

I think Justin Forsett might be a guy that PC can work with, he's shifty and has speed and is capable of catching passes. Although his height/size might be an issue. Julius Jones though doesn't really strike me as a PC guy. While he might be decent all around, he doesn't seem to excel at any one thing like Pete would probably prefer. For the draft, the easy trap would be to say that he goes for familiarity and takes McKnight, or possibly another Pac 10 RB. My instinct is that he looks for a guy in that straight ahead/power role and eschews any of the speedier guys. Then again I could also easily see him falling in love with Spiller. One thing I don't see him doing is taking an undersized guy like Brandon James. All of the RBs he recruited were 5'11 or taller with the exception of Desmond Reed who was 5'10.

2001 Carries Yards
Sultan McCullough 115 410
Sunny Byrd 122 329

Sultan McCullough 171 770
Justin Fargas 161 720
Hershel Dennis 49 198
Malaefou MacKenzie 47 175

LenDale White 141 755
Hershel Dennis 137 661
Reggie Bush 90 521
Chauncey Washington 19 65

LenDale White 203 1103
Reggie Bush 143 908
Desmond Reed 31 173
Hershel Dennis 28 109

Reggie Bush 200 1740
LenDale White 197 1302
Desmond Reed 19 137

Chauncey Washington 157 744
Emmanuel Moody 79 459
CJ Gable 111 434
Allen Bradford 13 42

Chauncey Washington 195 969
Stafon Johnson 98 673
Joe McKnight 94 540
CJ Gable 13 143

Stafon Johnson 138 705
Joe McKnight 89 659
CJ Gable 107 617
Marc Tyler 36 198
Broderick Green 32 168

Joe McKnight 164 1014
Allen Bradford 115 668
Stafon Johnson 32 157
CJ Gable 24 102

I didn't include everyone who received carries, or even everyone who got double digit carries, but I think there is enough information here to see the kinds of distributions given. Most of these guys could've gotten 20 carries or more a game at some schools and were instead relegated to 10-15 if they were lucky at USC.

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