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Fullback Lockwood Has Come Full Cycle : USC: He came here to be a tailback, but he's playing a major role in his new position and learning to like it.

October 19, 1990|JERRY CROWE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

One reason Scott Lockwood turned down a scholarship offer from Colorado after an all-star career at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colo., was that the Buffaloes wanted him to play fullback.

A tailback at Fairview, he didn't want to become primarily a blocker in college.

So what's Lockwood doing in his junior season at USC?

He is playing fullback, where his speed and blocking ability have helped lead a resurgence of the Trojans' running attack in the three games after he was moved from tailback.

USC has averaged 263.7 rushing yards a game since Lockwood replaced Raoul Spears in the starting lineup. Lockwood has contributed 75 yards and a touchdown against Ohio State, 102 yards and a touchdown against Washington State and 45 yards against Stanford, not to mention several blocks to spring his teammates.

Coach Larry Smith called him the unsung hero after the Trojans ran for a season-high 331 yards against Ohio State and said the lineup change was made, in part, "because we wanted to get our best players on the field."

Despite being cut, beat on and even kicked, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Lockwood has taken a liking to his new position.

"I'd rather be sore and beat up and not be able to walk after a game than be fresh because I didn't play," he said. "Everyone would want that feeling."

After starting at tailback in the Rose Bowl game as a freshman, then running for 527 yards as a part-time starter two years ago as a sophomore, Lockwood missed virtually all of last season because he dislocated and tore ligaments in his right thumb during USC's opening loss to Illinois.

In Lockwood's absence, Ricky Ervins ran for 1,395 yards to lead the Pacific 10 Conference in rushing and leave Lockwood a distant second on the depth chart this season. Lockwood carried the ball only 12 times for 33 yards in USC's first three games.

Reluctant to move Lockwood because as a fullback he would be asked to block players who outweighed him by as many as 45 pounds, Smith changed his mind after the Trojans were limited to 28 yards on the ground in a 31-0 loss to Washington.

Smith and Clarence Shelmon, who coaches the Trojans' running backs, probably wish now that they'd made the move earlier.

"He's helped improve the running game by giving us an inside threat--simply because he can take it all the way anytime," Shelmon said of Lockwood, a former Junior Olympic sprint champion who had a 66-yard touchdown run against the Buckeyes.

USC, though, expected that from Lockwood. His father John, a fullback/middle linebacker for the Trojans, recovered a third-quarter fumble in a 20-17 victory over Notre Dame in 1964, when the Irish were unbeaten and ranked No. 1.

It is as a blocker that Lockwood has exceeded expectations.

"He's not as physical (as other fullbacks), because of his size, but he gets more done," Shelmon said. "He knocks people down. He had 11 knockdowns last Saturday (against Stanford); he had 14 against Ohio State. His technique is such that he's able to get to people and knock them off their feet."

Able to bench press 400 pounds, Lockwood is one of USC's strongest players. Still, he said: "I'm not the type of fullback that's going to knock someone over--unless they're not looking, maybe."

Lockwood said he wouldn't mind staying at fullback next season as a fifth-year senior, after Ervins is gone.

"I've been really happy with the change," he said.

Does the all-time leading rusher in Colorado high school football history actually enjoy blocking?

"I do now," Lockwood said.

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