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Receiver Darreus Rogers practices with USC for first time

Rogers, a standout at Carson High, signed with the Trojans last February but was not cleared by the school or the NCAA in time for the season. He will not be allowed to travel with the team to El Paso for the Sun Bowl.

December 20, 2012|By Gary Klein
  • Former Carson receiver Darreus Rogers, seen here making a catch during a sevenonseven passing tournament on Jun. 14, 2011, practiced with USC for the first time since signing with Trojans in February.
Former Carson receiver Darreus Rogers, seen here making a catch during… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

USC's Sun Bowl game against Georgia Tech is more than a week away. Spring practice does not begin until March.

But a new addition to the Trojans' 2013 roster practiced for the first time Thursday and others are readying for a January arrival.

Receiver Darreus Rogers, who signed a national letter of intent last February but was not cleared by USC or the NCAA in time for the season, finally got onto the field and participated in USC's midday workout.

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Rogers, a former Carson High standout, could practice because final exams at USC ended Wednesday. He can work out with the team through Saturday, but NCAA rules forbid him from traveling with the Trojans to El Paso for the Dec. 31 bowl game.

Coach Lane Kiffin liked what he saw of Rogers.

"That's hard to come in and practice with guys that have been doing it for a long time," Kiffin said. "But you can see that he's very talented."

Rogers' debut came after several high school seniors in USC's 2013 recruiting class this week reportedly signed financial aid agreements that would allow them to enroll for the spring semester.

Quarterback Max Browne, the Gatorade national player of the year from Skyline High in Sammamish, Wash., is among a group that also includes running back Justin Davis of Stockton Lincoln High, defensive backs Su'a Cravens of Vista Murietta and Chris Hawkins of Rancho Cucamonga, and defensive linemen Kylie Fitts of Redlands East Valley and Kenny Bigelow of Eastern Christian Academy in Elkton, Md.

NCAA rules forbid coaches from speaking publicly about high school players until they have enrolled in college classes or sign national letters of intent in February.

Speaking generally, Kiffin said early enrollees benefit from a head start toward graduation and acclimating to college. Participating in spring practice makes them veterans of sorts by the time training camp begins in August.

"It makes the fall a lot easier," Kiffin said. "The first semester on student-athletes is the hardest, and if your first semester is the semester that you're playing, it makes it more difficult."

Quarterback Matt Barkley became a four-year starter after enrolling in January 2009. But It doesn't always work out as planned. Running back Dillon Baxter and receiver Kyle Prater enrolled in January 2010. Kiffin removed Baxter from the program midway through last season and Prater transferred to Northwestern.

Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, USC's recruiting coordinator, said the staff encourages prospective recruits to take advantage of the opportunity.

"Some kids are ready to do that and some kids need a little bit more time in high school," he said, speaking generally. "It all depends on the high school, if they will allow them to do it. But we would like them to, no question."

Prep work

The Trojans continued preparation for Georgia Tech's flexbone, triple-option offense.

"When we first saw it [Wednesday], there were a lot of mistakes," defensive end Wes Horton said. "But as the days go on, it's going to start to stick.

"By the time we play, I think we're going to be more than ready."

Quick hits

Trojans players saw a screening of Quentin Tarantino's new film, "Django Unchained," on Thursday evening. They will attend the Clippers' game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on Friday. … The Trojans practice Friday and Saturday and then will have three days off before departing for El Paso.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

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