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USC FOOTBALL FYI

Trojans' Hayes Pullard III envisioned rivalry from other side

Pullard thought he would play for UCLA, but the Crenshaw High product signed with USC. He's started every game at weakside linebacker and is the Trojans' second-leading tackler.

November 24, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • USC linebacker Hayes Pullard defends on an incomplete pass to Utah tight end Kendrick Moeai during a game earlier this season.
USC linebacker Hayes Pullard defends on an incomplete pass to Utah tight… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

USC linebacker Hayes Pullard III looked forward to being a part of the USC-UCLA rivalry.

And for most of his time at Crenshaw High, he envisioned doing it as a Bruin.

Former Crenshaw stars Reggie Carter and Brian Price had made their way to Westwood. Pullard was on track to follow.

"I was always up there and supporting them," Pullard said. "I kind of felt a vibe."

That changed after former Trojans linebackers coach Ken Norton invited Pullard to a USC workout.

"I came to practice and saw the difference," Pullard said.

Pullard had a USC connection: His late uncle, Robert, was a record-setting pole-vaulter for the Trojans.

Pullard's late father, Hayes Jr., always wanted his namesake to attend USC.

In February 2010, after connecting with Robert Woods and other Trojans recruits, Pullard signed with USC, knowing his father would be proud.

"I made that decision in honor of his name," he said.

USC coaches are glad that he did.

Pullard redshirted in 2010, but he has started every game this season at weakside linebacker.

He recorded eight tackles three times, and then broke out last week with a career-best 14 in the Trojans' 38-35 upset victory over Oregon.

Pullard has three sacks and has forced two fumbles.

He goes into the USC-UCLA game Saturday at the Coliseum as the Trojans' second-leading tackler.

"I just want to go out there and win, have fun with all the seniors and cherish the moment," Pullard said. "This is a great team we have and we want to finish off the season."

Hold on

Tailback Marc Tyler can't wait for his next carry.

The last one didn't go so well.

Late in the game against Oregon, Tyler fumbled a handoff from quarterback Matt Barkley on a play that Tyler thought included a play-action fake.

"And he thought it was a run," Tyler said. "We just miscommunicated."

Tyler has rushed for 537 yards and scored four touchdowns in nine games.

Curtis McNeal is on track to start at tailback for the fourth game in a row, but Tyler will be ready when called upon.

The son of former UCLA running back Wendell Tyler said playing against the Bruins did not hold special significance to him, other than for the rivalry felt by all of his teammates.

"I'm just looking forward to a great game," he said.

Quick hits

Asked what he was thankful for, Coach Lane Kiffin quipped, "Our quarterback." ... Cornerback Nickell Robey (foot) sat out part of practice for precautionary reasons, Kiffin said. Defensive lineman J.R. Tavai did not practice. … USC leads the series against UCLA, 45-28-7. The Trojans are 25-12-5 against unranked UCLA teams.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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