USC: Byron Moore

Examining the transfers

July, 12, 2010
7/12/10
4:10
PM PT
Just over four weeks have passed since the NCAA announced sanctions on the USC football program that included a two-year postseason ban and a loss of five scholarships a year. Shortly after they were handed down on June 10, perhaps the biggest sanction-related question turned to transfers.

Essentially, would USC experience a mass exodus of players taking advantage of the NCAA-instituted free-transfer policy for juniors and seniors, or would the Trojans stay Trojans and stick together as a team?

So far it's been somewhere in between, with five players choosing to transfer. Of course, none of the five — linebackers Jordan Campbell and Jarvis Jones, defensive end Malik Jackson, safety Byron Moore and now fullback D.J. Shoemate — were starters. But each of them, and Jackson and Shoemate especially, were key depth pieces for USC's present and future.

But how important were they?

Let's break them all down, player by player and in chronological order.

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1. Campbell -- The first player to transfer, Campbell essentially used the sanctions as an opportunity to escape a situation where he had found himself in coach Lane Kiffin's doghouse. He even said so: "I decided to transfer because it was a blessing in disguise," he said last month. "The opportunity to go to any other school that I wanted to without sitting out a year -- that was awesome."

A reserve linebacker, Campbell was a solid special-teamer and provided depth on the defense, but was never a likely long-term starter.

2. Jones -- Another linebacker, Jones was also another special case. He was largely thought of by the USC coaching staff as a potential starter -- former linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. compared him directly to Brian Cushing -- but injuries got in the way when Jones sprained his neck on Halloween Night at Oregon last season. He missed the rest of the year and was never cleared by team doctors, so he chose to transfer to Georgia, where he will reportedly be cleared to play.

Jones must sit out the 2010-2011 season as the NCAA's free-transfer policy does not apply to him.

3. Jackson -- The reserve defensive end was USC's first true loss, as he was the first player likely to earn significant playing time in 2010 that decided to transfer. Jackson had been an obvious part of the Trojans' defense during his two seasons at USC but failed to break through at any point and earn a starting job at one of the end spots.

Instead, he was bound to spend the 2010 season spelling fellow junior Armond Armstead.

4. Moore -- A redshirt freshman, Moore last week decided to transfer to Los Angeles Harbor College, a junior college. He had the talent to stick at USC but sometimes appeared to lack a sense of confidence in practice, and he had been largely outshined by other defensive backs in his recruiting class. In fact, it's possible that three of USC's four starters in the secondary next season will be from the class of 2009 — safeties Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald and cornerback Torin Harris.

Moore found himself behind all three of those players as he shuffled between safety and cornerback during his one-year tenure at USC, but as a talented player the Trojans will still miss him for depth purposes.

5. Shoemate -- Although not a starter, Shoemate was clearly the planned successor to one of the nation's top fullbacks in senior Stanley Havili. The problem was, of course, Shoemate never wanted to play fullback. He committed to USC after his sophomore year at Servite High School (Anaheim, Calif.) as an athlete and was shoehorned into playing wide receiver in fall camp as a true freshman. Midway through that 2008 season, he was switched to fullback and he never moved away from that position for the next year-plus.

To fill his spot, the Trojans will likely need to utilize incoming freshman Soma Vainuku (Eureka, Calif./Eureka) to back up Havili and prepare to start in 2011. A three-star recruit, Vainuku doesn't possess the pure speed Shoemate had but appears to be a vicious blocker. Problem is, Vainuku

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And then there's Seantrel Henderson. The nation's top-rated offensive tackle, the 6-foot-7, 295-pound behemoth committed to USC on Signing Day in February and signed the next month, only to never actually appear at USC for the start of the summer session with the rest of his classmates (except for Vainuku and linebacker Glen Stanley, of course, but we'll get to that on another occasion).

A controversy ensued, as many predicted, and Kiffin released Henderson from his letter of intent last week. Three days later, Henderson signed with Miami, leaving the Trojans with no incoming tackles and a gaping hole on the offensive line. What would have Henderson have meant for the 2010 Trojans?

Two things: a dominant lineman to compete with Matt Kalil for the starting spot at left tackle, and depth. Now, if either Kalil or right tackle Tyron Smith go down with an injury, the Trojans will be forced to resort to players who have never logged significant snaps in a game situation.

In fact, depth is the real issue with all of these transfers. As we said, none of the five transfers were likely starters this season. But the interesting thing about football — and college football, especially — is that a backup in September can easily be a starter by November or December.

When players start to get hurt, Kiffin's squad will feel the hurt of the transfers, and, accordingly, the sanctions. Until then, the effects should be minimal.

Byron Moore leaves USC

July, 9, 2010
7/09/10
7:36
AM PT
Redshirt freshman defensive back Byron Moore has enrolled at a local junior college and will not return to USC in the fall, according to various reports Wednesday night.

Moore, a product of Narbonne High, came into school as a cornerback but switched to safety prior to 2010 spring practice. He was listed as the backup at strong safety to sophomore Jawanza Starling at the conclusion of the spring but faced likely competition in fall camp from juniors Drew McAllister and Marshall Jones for the second-string spots.

In recent days, Moore's departure had been the subject of internet rumors. Wednesday, it was confirmed: The 6-foot-1, 205-pound defensive back is now enrolled at Los Angeles Harbor College, just minutes away from his high school.

"Yes it's true," his father, Byron Moore Sr., told USCfootball.com. "He wants a fresh start."

With Moore's departure, only nine scholarship players will return for the Trojans in 2010 at the four defensive back positions — with one of those being offense/defense tweener Patrick Hall, who may begin fall camp at running back.

Thursday practice report

April, 15, 2010
4/15/10
10:41
PM PT
Notes and quotes from Thursday's practice, with videos to follow:
  • First of all, our Ted Miller was in attendance. Here are some of his quick thoughts, including comments regarding USC's defensive line and a slimmed-down Matt Barkley.
  • The big defensive plays of the day came from Devon Kennard and Byron Moore. Kennard, a sophomore who moved to middle linebacker at the start of spring practice, leveled running back Marc Tyler behind the line of scrimmage in team drills; Moore, a redshirt freshman currently playing safety, made a remarkable interception of a deep ball during passing drills. Offensively, Barkley and receiver Ronald Johnson connected on an impressive corner-of-the-end-zone touchdown pass.
  • Injury update: receiver De'Von Flournoy, who had his number changed from 1 to 81 by Kiffin before Tuesday's practice, evidently pulled his hamstring Tuesday and was unable to suit up Thursday. He is expected to be out of Saturday's scrimmage. Running back C.J. Gable, who played sparingly in last Saturday's scrimmage due to a neck injury, is feeling better and is scheduled to earn more carries in this Saturday's scrimmage. USC still has just seven offensive linemen available.
  • Coach Lane Kiffin told reporters that Barkley is leading the race to be the starting signal-caller over senior Mitch Mustain, but added that no decision has been made at any starting spot.
  • Early enrollees Kyle Prater and Dillon Baxter continued to impress in drills, as did senior receiver Ronald Johnson, who caught the final pass of practice — a touchdown throw from Mustain. Johnson, on what he has seen from Prater so far: "Him and Dillon Baxter, they want to get better. And you can't really teach that."
  • Linebacker Malcolm Smith was the only Trojan named to the Lott Trophy Watch List today. Named after former USC safety Ronnie Lott, the award goes to the best defensive impact player each season.
  • John Robinson, a two-term coach with the Trojans (1976-1982, 1993-1997) attended practice.

Saturday scrimmage report

April, 10, 2010
4/10/10
6:48
PM PT

Some notes from today's scrimmage, the first of the spring:

  • Quarterback Matt Barkley was on his game – at least in the first half. Barkley managed three touchdown passes early on, including a 70-yard bomb to Ronald Johnson. Barkley also connected on 10-yard scores with Johnson and tight end Jordan Cameron and finished nine for 17. His competitor at signal-caller, Mitch Mustain, completed 10 of 21 passes, including a touchdown to true freshman receiver Kyle Prater but also fumbled the ball once for the day's only turnover.
  • Speaking of the fumble, it was forced and recovered (for a 52-yard gain) by redshirt junior defensive tackle DaJohn Harris, who was the undisputed star of the scrimmage. Harris, a big recruit out of Gardena Serra in the class of 2007, has struggled to make a mark in three years at USC but has an opportunity to earn significant playing time this season. Harris also had a sack, three tackles for a loss and a deflection Saturday.
  • The comparisons to ex-USC running back Reggie Bush will continue for Dillon Baxter as the true freshman early enrollee broke off a big play in Saturday's scrimmage to add a little fuel to the fire. In the first half, Baxter went untouched on a 50-yard touchdown run that invoked images of Bush's famed run against Fresno State in 2005. Baxter, a San Diego native like Bush, totaled 94 yards in nine carries for the day and had two receptions.
  • Only four scholarship defensive backs recorded statistics for the Trojans on Saturday — safeties Byron Moore and T.J. McDonald and cornerbacks Shareece Wright and T.J. Bryant. Wright had four, Moore had three (including one for a loss), McDonald had two and Bryant had one. Redshirt freshman corner Torin Harris sat out because of a hamstring injury. None of the scholarship players who logged statistics had interceptions or deflections — contributing to the offensive success on the day.
  • On the running back front, Marc Tyler had the second-most yards on the day, with seven carries for 31 yards. Allen Bradford ran 10 times for 27 yards and Curtis McNeal carried the ball six times for only two yards. Redshirt senior C.J. Gable, who tweeted Saturday he was undergoing an X-ray on his neck, lost four yards in his only rush.

Comments on Kiffin's hiring

January, 13, 2010
1/13/10
10:01
PM PT
Active Trojans first learned of Lane Kiffin's hiring — along with his father Monte and recruiting coordinator extraordinaire Ed Orgeron — in a text message just before the story broke, sent to them by director of football operations Matt Capurro.

Since then, there have been quite a few public comments issued on the internet by some players on the team. Here are all the player comments we could gather up from Twitter and Facebook.

Byron Moore, freshman cornerback, via Twitter: "we on the way to the top...TROJANS...i thought u knew."

Brandon Carswell, redshirt sophomore receiver, via Twitter: "Lane Kiffin, one of my recruiters for a little bit, Norm Chow a master of offense, Monte Kiffin, no need for anything, I'm juiced!!!"

Torin Harris, freshman corner, via Facebook: "lane kiffin it is."

Brice Butler, redshirt freshman receiver, via Twitter: "I'm low key really happy right now that we got a new coach that won't change the whole team"..."I'm happy wit the new situation... Felt like it was the best move since coach left.. That was a big loss."

Matt Barkley, freshman quarterback, via Twitter: "I was pretty bummed, now I'm stoked.. It's a great day to be Trojan!! Fight On!"

Ahmed Mohktar, redshirt sophomore tailback, via Facebook, asterisk his: "Smoke weed talk sh*t like Lane Kiffin."

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Lane Kiffin's twitter account has been disabled.

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