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Stafon Johnson thanks fans via Twitter

USC FYI

Injured running back still can't move much, but Pete Carroll says Johnson is in good spirits.

October 01, 2009|Gary Klein

USC tailback Stafon Johnson cannot yet speak, but he began communicating with his fans Wednesday.

Johnson, recovering from emergency throat surgery after a weightlifting accident Monday, started a Twitter account to respond to the hundreds of well-wishers who have sent him messages via letter, phone and text message.

"Thank you every1 4 all the love and support," Johnson tweeted in the afternoon.

By late Wednesday evening, Johnson's user name -- stafon13 -- had more than 5,000 followers on the social networking site.

Johnson's mother, Kim Mallory, also thanked those who have reached out.

"Words cannot express the outpouring of love and support we've received," Mallory said on USC's website. "It's overwhelming, and it means so much to me and Stafon."

USC Coach Pete Carroll said Johnson was in good spirits. The senior, however, cannot move much because doctors want him to keep his head and neck still.

"His throat feels like it's real tight, like he has a bad sore throat," Carroll said. "But other than that he doesn't feel that bad. So it's frustrating for him because he feels like he can get up and walk away."

Electronic devices are keeping Johnson entertained and also allowing him to stay connected to friends and family.

"He's like the commander of the Starship Enterprise right now with all this equipment around," Carroll said. "He's got all the technology you need."

Carroll spoke to Johnson on Tuesday about the possibility of petitioning for a medical redshirt that would allow him to play for USC again when he heals.

If Johnson decided instead to make himself available for the NFL draft, Carroll said he would offer support.

"He has played a lot of football and there are a lot of plays on film," Carroll said. "He's shown who he is.

"He had a good start to the year and did everything football-wise that he needed to do in the first four games -- and that alone has put him on the map.

"If he wants to come out, I would encourage whatever he felt was right."

Mays ready

Safety Taylor Mays appears to be gaining confidence in the stability of his right knee as the seventh-ranked Trojans prepare for Saturday's game at No. 24 California.

Mays continues to wear a brace after suffering a sprain against Ohio State, an injury that forced him to sit out the Trojans' loss at Washington.

Mays started and made four tackles last week against Washington State.

The senior is looking forward to playing against running back Jahvid Best and the Golden Bears.

"We're always aggressive against these Cal teams," he said. "I think it's because they know they can take a shot against us -- they're not intimidated.

"I like that."

Mustain move?

Junior quarterback Mitch Mustain continued to split second-team snaps with Aaron Corp, but neither Carroll nor quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates would say that there has been a change in the depth chart behind starter Matt Barkley.

"This is the best he's thrown the ball since [training] camp," Carroll said of Mustain. "This isn't unfamiliar territory because we've seen Mitch kind of elevate at times.

"He's done that the last two weeks and particularly this week."

Barkley also had a solid day, Carroll and Bates saying the freshman looked stronger than at any time since suffering a bone bruise in his right shoulder nearly three weeks ago.

"His fastball was coming back," Bates said.

Quick hits

Receiver Ronald Johnson (collarbone) said he planned to return in time to play against Notre Dame on Oct. 17. . . . Defensive end Nick Perry (knee bruise) returned after sitting out Tuesday.

--

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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