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Monday, March 5, 2012
Updated: March 6, 8:30 PM ET
USC's Simione Vehikite leaves team

By Pedro Moura
ESPNLosAngeles.com

USC fullback/linebacker Simione Vehikite has left the Trojans and is no longer part of the football program, a school spokesperson confirmed to ESPNLosAngeles.com Monday.

He is still enrolled in school at USC and is attending classes in the spring semester.

Vehikite, a fourth-year junior, was due to compete this spring with redshirt freshman Soma Vainuku for the starting fullback spot vacated by Rhett Ellison's departure to the NFL. Since arriving at USC in 2009, Vehikite spent time at both fullback and linebacker but didn't start a game, logging most of his time on special teams.

A Hawaii native, Vehikite was suspended indefinitely in the 2010 season for unspecified reasons and missed almost a month. He was also sidelined for a significant portion of the 2011 season due to lingering neck pain.

Vehikite's departure brings USC's current scholarship count down to 76, counting the 2012 signees due to get to school in the summer. NCAA sanctions mandate that the Trojans stay under 75 this season, so at least one more player must be cut or lose his scholarship by August.

Vehikite is one of six scholarship players with eligibility remaining to leave the Trojans this offseason. Left tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry departed for the NFL; defensive lineman Armond Armstead and cornerbacks T.J. Bryant and Patrick Hall are also out of the program.

USC coach Lane Kiffin, who could not be reached for comment on Vehikite's departure, said last month there was a possibility Hall could return at a later time.

Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLosAngeles.com.