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Linebacker Chris Galippo could become an outsider

A starter all last season at middle linebacker, the junior is facing a challenge this spring from sophomore Devon Kennard, and now Galippo is taking some snaps at the strong-side spot. He says he welcomes chance to learn a new position.

April 27, 2010|By Gary Klein

Chris Galippo started every game, and played nearly every snap, as USC's middle linebacker last season.

The junior from Corona performed well for most of the first half of the schedule, but wore down in the second half when USC suffered three of its four losses.

On Tuesday, the spring position battle between Galippo and sophomore Devon Kennard appeared to shift some when Galippo took about 15 snaps at strong-side linebacker.

It remains to be seen who will be listed as the starting middle linebacker when Coach Lane Kiffin releases an end-of-spring depth chart Friday. But Galippo said he welcomed the chance to learn another position and help provide depth.

"The percentage of somebody getting hurt and me having to step in somewhere is very high," Galippo said. "It's part of the game — guys are going to go down, so whatever they want me to do, I'll do it."

Galippo said defensive assistant Monte Kiffin told him that ‘‘the three best linebackers have got to be on the field" when the Trojans open their season on Sept. 2 at Hawaii.

Malcolm Smith appears set at weakside linebacker and Michael Morgan has been working with the first team at the strong-side spot.

Kennard will undoubtedly figure in the mix after an impressive spring at middle linebacker.

"I made mistakes along the way but I feel like I progressed as spring ball went on," said Kennard, who played defensive end and strong-side linebacker last season.

Linebackers Hayes Pullard of Los Angeles Crenshaw High and Glen Stanley, a junior college transfer, are due to arrive for training camp. But linebacker depth remains an issue because of a heart condition that ended Frankie Telfort's USC career before it began, the possible career-ending neck injury that Jarvis Jones is trying to overcome and Uona Kaveinga's transfer to BYU.

The Trojans could get even thinner.

Junior linebacker Jordan Campbell, who had been held out of early spring practice workouts because violations of team policy, was absent Tuesday and his status with the team is uncertain. Kiffin said he met with Campbell on Tuesday to review an undisclosed situation. Kiffin declined to elaborate other than to say that Campbell had not been arrested.

Campbell could not be reached for comment.

Quick hits

Blake Ayles sat out after suffering his second concussion of the spring, Kiffin said. . . . Receiver Ronald Johnson is being held out of contact because of an elbow sprain, but Kiffin said it was "questionable" whether he would require surgery for a wrist condition.

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