Tuesday, July 31, 2012
What Silas Redd brings to USC
By Pedro Moura
It's funny, in retrospect, that coach Lane Kiffin applied the term "free agency" to his USC Trojans in the summer of 2010.
He was relatively right, of course -- all his opponents were able to freely try to poach his juniors and seniors because of NCAA sanctions, and a few of them successfully did. Defensive end Malik Jackson's move to Tennessee was the most notable at the time.
But if there ever has been a true free-agency period in college athletics, it just ended. What took place the past eight days with former Penn State running back Silas Redd was nothing short of a free-agent frenzy.
Between the time the Nittany Lions' sanctions were announced on the morning of June 23 and Redd's commitment to USC on Tuesday afternoon, Redd was recruited like no other college junior-to-be has ever been recruited, by college coaches around the country and fans, too -- so much so that he deactivated his Twitter account Tuesday morning, hours before he announced his decision.
The whole process actually happened really quickly. It just seemed drawn out because of the circumstances under which it all happened, with both his old school and new school's respective training camps now beginning in less than a week.
But Redd is officially a Trojan now, for at least the upcoming season and potentially the one after that. Where does that leave USC?
For one, it gives Kiffin a rare commodity in college football with two returning 1,000-yard rushers. But while it might look as if Redd had a better 2011 season than incumbent starter Curtis McNeal (1,241 rushing yards to 1,005), the backs' other numbers suggest otherwise.
McNeal averaged almost seven yards a carry; Redd averaged 5.1. McNeal scored six touchdowns in 145 carries; Redd scored seven in 244.
That doesn't go to show that Redd won't be effective at USC -- he'll almost certainly be at least a fantastic No. 2 back for the Trojans. But to expect him to immediately unseat McNeal is farfetched.
More likely, Redd will straight away become the third-down back and goal-line runner, with the opportunity to increase his role later.
Reed's arrival also allows Kiffin to let prized incoming freshman Nelson Agholor play at his preferred position of receiver.
That's where Agholor has been practicing all summer long, and that's where most programs planned to play the Tampa, Fla., native. But as Kiffin powerfully declared at Pac-12 media day a week ago, the Trojans' depth limitations at running back were going to force Agholor into the backfield, at least at first.
No longer. It'd now be very surprising if Agholor doesn't spend the vast majority of his time lined up on the outside this season.
With Redd at USC, it calls into question the futures of USC running back commits Justin Davis and Ty Isaac. Both Class of 2013 recruits plan to enroll early with the Trojans next January and have said that Redd's arrival won't affect their plans, but that remains to be seen.
The thought with Redd was that he'd be strictly a one-year transfer to whichever school he chose and move on to preparing for the NFL draft in January. If that were the case, Davis and Isaac wouldn't have any cause for concern. But the statement Redd released Tuesday seemed to indicate otherwise.
"I continue to have aspirations for my life," Redd's statement said, "and as my family and I considered the bigger picture -- both on and off the field -- it became clearer to me that USC will be the best fit for my academic, athletic, and personal needs over the next two years."
Of course, that could also change depending on how well he does in 2012.
Lastly, Redd pushes the Trojans' two other scholarship running backs into an interesting situation. Barring an injury to Redd or McNeal, it's now unlikely that redshirt freshman Buck Allen will see many carries this season, and maybe that's for the best, considering his lack of practice and game experience.
And even D.J. Morgan, USC's starting running back in last year's season opener, suddenly gets lost in the shuffle. Can he get more than five or six carries a game this year?
Considering, then, that the Trojans could have Redd, Davis, Isaac and Tre Madden on scholarship at running back in 2013, it's likely that Morgan or Allen will end up transferring sometime before then.
It's all part of the fallout of one late-July transfer. But Kiffin and the Trojans obviously believe it's worth it.