LOS ANGELES -- His teammates have already taken to nicknaming him after Stafon Johnson and his coach is already talking about using him in wildcat packages next season.
Sophomore Tre Madden's first two days at running back have gone pretty well.
Madden, who spent his first season at USC in 2011 as a special-teamer and backup linebacker, was moved to running back on Sunday by Trojans coach Lane Kiffin because of a lack of depth. He has missed the last half-hour of the two practices since because of class, but coaches and teammates and have been raving about his brief performances in the offensive backfield.
"(He was) really good again," Kiffin said Thursday. "He's obviously has got a long ways to go but an exciting prospect to have there, giving us some size that we really want to have."
His size/speed combination -- 6 feet, 226 pounds with a 4.5 40-yard dash -- is devastating, and he can catch out of the backfield. Kiffin has complimented his "really good feet" and observed that he falls forward when tackled, a trait that takes many years for some backs to develop.
Now, the question is how long this experiment will last. The Trojans still say they are going to revisit the move Sunday, after Saturday's scrimmage. Then they are expected to make a decision about whether he'll spend the rest of the spring -- nine more practices -- on offense or defense.
Madden, who comes from a running-back family, said Thursday he plans to keep his No. 13 even if he stays a running back. That could present problems because backup quarterback Max Wittek also wears that number. But Madden indicated one reason he's keeping it is his teammates have already adapted to it, calling him 'Baby Stafon' after Johnson, a running back with the Trojans from 2006 to '09.
Asked about Madden's future at the position on Thursday and what he would need to work on at running back, Kiffin expressed confidence in the Mission Viejo product.
"It just comes from experience," Kiffin said. "It’ll be about learning the systems and the intricacies of the systems, knowing when guys give you advantages with certain defensive looks that he doesn’t know now."
Of note: Madden's dad, Curtis Madden, was a backup fullback at Kansas State in the 1980s. And grandfather Lawrence McCutcheon was a five-time Pro Bowl running back with the NFL's St. Louis Rams.