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USC FOOTBALL FYI

USC tailback Joe McKnight doesn't play in bowl game

The Trojans' leading rusher, the subject of a compliance investigation by the school, does not suit up for the Emerald Bowl against Boston College.

December 27, 2009|By Gary Klein
  • USC tailback Joe McKnight breaks into the clear against Arizona during the Trojans' final regular-season game.
USC tailback Joe McKnight breaks into the clear against Arizona during… (Gary A. Vasquez / US Presswire )

Reporting from San Francisco — USC tailback Joe McKnight, who has been the subject of a USC compliance investigation for more than a week, did not suit up for Saturday's 24-13 victory over Boston College in the Emerald Bowl at AT&T Park.

McKnight, USC's leading rusher, was held out of the game by USC officials as they continue to explore the junior's relationship with a Santa Monica businessman who owns a sport utility vehicle that McKnight has been observed driving on campus.

Coach Pete Carroll said the school was ready to clear McKnight, "if the information came in, but cooperation wasn't exactly what we needed from the other side, not Joe, the other people."

McKnight was on the field in a sweat suit before the game, but he was not on the field or in uniform for the game.

Allen Bradford started in McKnight's place and rushed for 33 yards in eight carries in the first half. He finished with 72 yards in 17 carries.

Griffen going pro

Defensive end Everson Griffen announced after the game that he would make himself available for the NFL draft.

Griffen, a junior from Arizona, sat out the second half because of an ankle injury. He finished the season with eight sacks.

"I'm proud of myself," he said. "I've come a long way."

Carroll typically counsels juniors to remain in school unless they are projected as the first player at their position.

But of Griffen, Carroll said, "He's one of those guys, he's just so determined to go do it. I don't know, I've never even looked at the scenarios and stuff like that, but he's just so far gone on wanting to go that we'll just support him."

Havili shines

Junior fullback Stanley Havili, who was academically ineligible for last season's Rose Bowl, enjoyed a productive game, catching six passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns.

The junior from Utah turned a short pass from quarterback Matt Barkley into a 53-yard touchdown and also scored on a five-yard pass play.

Havili came in with 16 receptions but had not caught a pass in the previous two games.

Stepping in

Sophomore tight end Rhett Ellison started in place of senior Anthony McCoy, one of three USC players who was ruled academically ineligible last week.

Ellison did not catch a pass Saturday, but he did make a key block on Havili's 53-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

Wright stuff

A week of mystery ended when junior Shareece Wright started at cornerback in place of injured Josh Pinkard.

Wright sat out the regular season because of academic ineligibility but performed well enough in the classroom during the fall semester to be available for the Emerald Bowl.

Coach Pete Carroll had refrained from naming a starter as Wright competed with sophomore T.J. Bryant and redshirt freshman Brian Baucham for the starting spot.

Wright intercepted a pass and made two tackles.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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