USC senior Brandon Carswell could see an expanded role with the team next…
USC receiver Brandon Carswell was bound for Cincinnati, ready to utilize an exception that allowed Trojans upperclassmen to transfer without sitting out a season because of NCAA sanctions.
That was last summer.
But after long conversations with his family and Coach Lane Kiffin, Carswell stuck around — and he and the Trojans are glad he did.
Carswell caught 16 passes and scored a touchdown last season. This spring, he is taking advantage of more opportunities. Kiffin described the fifth-year senior as the "dark horse" of spring workouts, an unsung player who has made a big impression.
"I definitely feel like I'm more confident," Carswell said. "And I think going through some stuff like I did and sticking it out helped me."
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It remains to be seen whether Carswell can withstand another onslaught of incoming freshmen — and Kiffin's penchant for playing them. George Farmer of Gardena Serra High and Victor Blackwell of Santa Ana Mater Dei are due to arrive this summer.
But with junior Brice Butler having left the program to transfer, sophomores Robert Woods and De'Von Flournoy nursing injuries, and redshirt freshman Kyle Prater sidelined because of a foot injury, Carswell and sophomore Markeith Ambles were the only scholarship receivers on the field Tuesday when the Trojans started their second week of workouts.
Kiffin said Carswell was an example of a veteran player who had taken advantage of his experience in the program. The coach did not name, but alluded to, players who left USC in search of larger roles.
For example, running back D.J. Shoemate left for Connecticut and had 28 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown but did not carry or catch the ball after the fourth game.
"It's hard to leave and just go jump into a program," Kiffin said. "Guys are established… they know the systems, they know their coaches and it's a hard thing to do. Maybe it's helped us that, really, those guys have not really done very much."
Running back Marc Tyler, sidelined because of a hamstring injury, said he regretted making comments last week that indicated he was hurt because the Trojans did not stretch properly before their first early morning workout.
Kiffin noted Saturday that the injury occurred two hours into practice, saying Tyler's logic was flawed.
"I didn't mean it as anything like slamming them, but that's what it came out to be," Tyler said. "I regret it because as a player you really can't complain about what we do and what we don't do because you can't fight against the coaches. You just have to follow along with what they do."
Tyler said he had not spoken to Kiffin about his comments, but running backs coach Kennedy Pola addressed the matter with the senior.
"My legs were hurting and didn't feel right the whole practice," Tyler said. "I should have told [Pola] and he would have taken care of me. But it was the first day and I didn't want to go to him… and have to come out. So, instead, I pushed it and hurt myself."
Cody Kessler had the highest completion percentage among backup quarterbacks in the first week of practice, but Kiffin said the competition with redshirt freshman Jesse Scroggins and freshman Max Wittek remains even ….. Linebacker Will Andrew intercepted a pass for the third time in as many workouts.