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Dennis Says He'll Be Reinstated Soon

September 08, 2004|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

Suspended running back Hershel Dennis said Tuesday that coaches have told him he will be reinstated next week, after the top-ranked Trojans play Colorado State on Saturday.

"I can't wait," Dennis said. "I've never been out this long."

Coach Pete Carroll removed Dennis from practice on Aug. 17, the day the Los Angeles Police Department announced it was conducting an investigation into an alleged sexual assault that may have involved one or more members of the football team.

According to law enforcement sources, Dennis is the focus of the investigation that stems from an alleged incident that took place Aug. 16 at a housing complex where the Trojans stayed during training camp.

Dennis, who was suspended for violating team rules, said he could not discuss matters related to the police investigation.

He said the hardest part of the suspension was not being on the field with his teammates. He said he has used the time off to work ahead in classes.

"I felt like I really let my teammates down ... by bringing all this bad publicity about USC," he said. "Coach Carroll always says to stay away from situations that can hurt the team. Then a mistake like that happens, and I feel bad about that."

Carroll declined to confirm that Dennis would return next week, but he has said that he has a time frame in mind for reinstating Dennis, who started every game and rushed for 661 yards last season.

Law enforcement sources said Dennis is among several players who have been contacted by LAPD detectives through attorneys. None of the players consented to be interviewed by the police, the sources said. An LAPD spokesman said Tuesday that the investigation was continuing. Dennis said he would be ready to help the Trojans when they play at Brigham Young on Sept. 18.

"My teammates have supported me," he said. "They know who I am."


Carroll denied a Colorado newspaper report that said he made a deal with Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer not to send film of the victory over the Hokies to Colorado State.

Colorado State Coach Sonny Lubick was reportedly grinning when he told the Rocky Mountain News, "The protocol is to exchange film, so I guess they're afraid of us. We have a TV copy, but it's still not the real McCoy. So I guess we'll go down there and win one for the tape guy."

Carroll said there was no plot, only confusion between him and Beamer.

"The arrangement with the exchange got messed up.... We got mixed up, and we both screwed it up," Carroll said.


Starting cornerback Ronald Nunn, who suffered a fractured orbital bone last season, said he would have a CT scan today after sitting out practice because of pain in his teeth and face.

Redshirt freshman Eric Wright worked in Nunn's spot with the first-unit defense.


Freshman receiver Dwayne Jarrett returned to practice after being removed Monday for reporting late after a three-day break.... Starting safety Darnell Bing (shoulder) practiced, but worked with the second-unit defense. Scott Ware continued to work with the first unit.

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