Spring is the time for experiments, after all.
So the Trojans' latest move makes sense: They're switching safety-turned-cornerback Tony Burnett to linebacker for the foreseeable future, essentially moving him into the slot created by the move of Tre Madden to running back. Lane Kiffin's hoping Burnett can follow the model created by Dion Bailey last spring, when the redshirt freshman moved from safety to linebacker and jumped right into the starting lineup.
"After seeing the success of what Dion has done there in the move from safety to there and because of the game changing, and then moving Tre -- who was backup there -- over to offense, we just really looked at our roster and it was one of those moves with the reductions of less players that we got to investigate," Kiffin said after Thursday's practice, Burnett's second day at the spot. "So we'll see how it looks the rest of spring. It looks good so far because he's fast."
Burnett said the move "probably will become permanent," so he's planning on using the summer to add bulk to his 6-1, 205-pound frame. But it's not like he suddenly has to become a 220 or 225-pounder. Bailey played last season at a similar weight to what Burnett weighs now, and he's not so much heavier this spring, either.
"It's just like an extra safety with a little more athleticism," Burnett said. "I just gotta remain physical, be a good tackler and be able to drop into zone coverage."
There isn't a starting spot open in the linebacking corps, so Burnett's move appears to be strictly for depth purposes. The trio of Bailey, Lamar Dawson and Hayes Pullard is set, but their backups aren't, and Marquis Simmons, one of the candidates, got hurt again this week.
And Burnett will continue to play on special teams, where he initially made his name for the Trojans.