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Saturday, April 16, 2005
Byrd, White among those who might not play

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USC quarterback Matt Leinart is returning, but other starters might not be.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday that one or more returning players who did not participate in spring practice might be academically ineligible for the 2005 season. Tight end Dominique Byrd, running back LenDale White and defensive linemen Frostee Rucker and Manuel Wright are currently listed at or near the bottom of the depth chart.

"It's going to be a challenge to get all the guys back," Trojans coach Pete Carroll acknowledged to the Times.

Wright, a junior, said he has contacted the NFL about entering the supplemental draft, but he said that is "the last option" if he isn't eligible to play for USC. Wright has been out of high school for three years, meeting NFL requirements.

"I'm studying, putting in a lot of work, so it's not like I'm not going to give it a good run or not going to try," Wright told the Times. "I could be lazy and just be like, 'Forget it, and go home. I'm going to the draft and call it a day.' But, obviously, I want to play here."

Wright's father, Terence, said Wright could either redshirt at USC or transfer to a Division II school if he is ineligible.

"But his priority, and our family's priority, is for him to stay at USC," Terence Wright told the Times.

White, a junior, told the Times he has been attending classes regularly and isn't worried about where he is listed on the depth chart.

"It makes it better for me -- it makes me hungry," he said. "You watch. I'll be starting."

Byrd, a senior, suffered a broken jaw during a fight several weeks ago. Rucker, also a senior, had toe surgery after the Orange Bowl.