Curtis McNeal stands out Saturday
April, 24, 2011
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com
In a bit of a surprise, presumptive starting running back Marc Tyler (post-concussion) wasn't available for Saturday's spring game.
No big deal -- Curtis McNeal stepped in. The redshirt junior running back, who was academically ineligible last season after missing out on the grade he needed by less than 1 percent, started the Spring Game and didn't do much stopping, carrying the ball 13 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
The other backs -- Dillon Baxter and D.J. Morgan -- also found success running the football, combining for nearly 200 yards and a touchdown, but McNeal was the No. 1 option and the guy who did the only scoring for the offensive Trojans until the fourth quarter.
It likely won't be that way come fall, with Tyler expected to get the majority of the carries and Baxter and Morgan expected to do most of the backing up, but it won't be too much of a surprise if McNeal finds an opportunity here and there and accumulates 50 or so carries by the end of the season.
Now that he's expected to be eligible, of course. The 5-7, 185-pound McNeal, nicknamed 'Moody,' said Saturday -- and has said throughout the spring -- that he expects to be able to compete in the fall.
McNeal was asked what's changed for him in the last year, when Kiffin took over, and over the last few months.
“It was just something new, I guess and I wasn’t used to it," McNeal said. "I wasn’t used to their coaching philosophy, I guess, but I just matured and told myself if I want to go to the NFL I got to change my attitude. Don’t take everything personal and just be open to a change and that’s pretty much what I did.”