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LB Vehikite thankful for second chance

9/5/2012

LOS ANGELES -- USC linebacker Simione Vehikite thought he might have blown his opportunity to play college football when he was arrested in February and taken off the team following a July 2011 car accident.

But he still had hope of returning. And so he took and passed 20 units' worth of courses in an attempt to prove to the Trojans' coaches that he was serious about it. And after a three-month stint in L.A. County jail beginning in May, he returned to the program last week.

"I don't really want to talk about it," a somber, emotional Vehikite said Wednesday. "I just want to leave it at the past and move forward from now on.

"I apologize to all the fans and stuff for all my wrongdoing and all of that."

Trojans coach Lane Kiffin had previously admonished Vehikite several times in public, and he was suspended for almost a month during the 2010 reason for unspecified reasons. But he felt the redshirt junior had showed sufficient remorse for his latest -- and most serious -- offense.

So he reinstated Vehikite.

"One of the things of our job is we’re allowed to work with young kids that make mistakes, and we’re allowed to give kids second chances," Kiffin said Wednesday. "I’m glad we were able to do that (with Vehikite). He’s paid a big price.

"I’m glad we can give him this chance, and hopefully he proves us right."

Vehikite did not play for the Trojans on Saturday against Hawaii; Kiffin said reporters could "consider it being suspended." But he'll likely play sometime in the next few weeks on special teams and potentially work his way into the defensive rotation.

"I'm very thankful, very grateful, for everyone that allowed me back," Vehikite said. "I'm thankful for coming back to practice and being able to play football again -- it's been a blessing.

"I thank God every day for giving me another chance and an opportunity to be here."