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Wittek and Madden play the numbers game

3/26/2012

Linebacker-turned-running back Tre Madden is the talk of USC's spring practice and quarterback Max Wittek is having himself a fine second spring as he competes to back up Matt Barkley.

But, together, Madden and Wittek are now creating a small problem. They're both playing offense and they're both wearing the No. 13. Someone's going to have change, and nobody's volunteering.

"It's kind of funny that both of us are wearing the number," Madden said Saturday. "I'm going to try to get him out of it, try to bribe him a little bit and see where it goes."

Both players have their attachments to it -- Wittek's worn it since high school in honor of one of his mother's best friends. Madden, born Curtis Madden III, picked it when he got to USC because he's always had a '3' in his number to symbolize his name. He wore No. 3 at Mission Viejo High, but the Trojans retired that for Carson Palmer in 2003.

The problem has only come up in the last week, since Madden's much-publicized move from the defensive side of the ball. And although they're both second-year players, Wittek has technically had the number longer because he enrolled early last January.

But the quarterback said he'd be open to playing a game of pick-up basketball or something small like that to decide who gets to keep it long term. Other than that, Wittek said, he had "no idea" how it was going to get solved.

He did know one thing, though. Teammates have taken to calling Madden "Baby Stafon" after Stafon Johnson, the last USC running back to wear No. 13.

Wittek said he just didn't want to be called "Baby Marinovich" after troubled Robo-QB Todd Marinovich.