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USC FOOTBALL

Dennis to Have Knee Surgery

April 07, 2006|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC running back Hershel Dennis, who sat out the 2005 season while recovering from knee surgery, will have surgery on the same knee and miss the upcoming season, Coach Pete Carroll said Thursday.

Dennis, a fifth-year senior, missed the first two weeks of spring practice because of a hamstring strain and tore ligaments again in his left knee on Tuesday. He had an MRI exam on Wednesday and will meet today with team physician James Tibone to set a timeline for surgery and rehabilitation. Dennis was not available for comment, but Carroll said USC would explore petitioning the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility for Dennis, who started every game in 2003. In 2002, running back Malaefou MacKenzie was granted a sixth year and played a key role for a USC team that went 11-2 and won the Orange Bowl.

Carroll said Dennis expressed a desire to return.

"He was crushed by the whole thought of it, going through this again and all but by the time we finished talking he had already started to turn his sights toward the goals he'll set up for himself for recovery," Carroll said.

Dennis' absence means that sophomore Michael Coleman will enter training camp as the most productive returning running back. Coleman gained 95 yards and scored a touchdown in 20 carries last season but is not participating fully in spring practice after having a second hip surgery in February. Chauncey Washington, a senior who was academically ineligible the last two seasons, is on track to enter training camp as the healthiest experienced running back if he qualifies. Washington is not participating in spring practice so he can focus on academics. Fourth-year junior Desmond Reed is recovering from knee surgery and Carroll said there was no timetable for his return.

Incoming freshmen Stafon Johnson, Emmanuel Moody, Stanley Havili, C.J. Gable and Kenny Ashley will be given an opportunity to compete for playing time when the Trojans begin preparations in August for their Sept. 2 opener at Arkansas.

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Junior offensive tackle Sam Baker and junior receiver Dwayne Jarrett were selected to the Playboy All-America team.... As expected, USC announced that it had signed a three-year contract with radio station 710 to broadcast Trojan football and basketball games. Football announcers Pete Arbogast, Paul McDonald and John Jackson and basketball announcers Rory Markas and Jim Hefner will continue in their roles.... Defensive lineman Travis Tofi has a sprained foot and will miss the rest of spring drills.

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