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USC tailback D.J. Morgan to have knee surgery

D.J. Morgan, a sophomore running back for the Trojans, says in a tweet that he will have a 'minor' procedure on a knee.

September 05, 2012|By Gary Klein

Silas Redd is now an even more timely addition to the USC football team.

The Penn State transfer led the team in rushing and also scored a touchdown in the Trojans' opener against Hawaii.

Redd's importance was further heightened Wednesday when Coach Lane Kiffin confirmed that sophomore D.J. Morgan would have knee surgery. Morgan had tweeted his status earlier in the day, describing the procedure as "minor."

Tailback depth was USC's biggest issue a few weeks before training camp, but Kiffin went all out to recruit Redd after the NCAA hit Penn State with sanctions that allowed players to transfer without having to sit out a season.

If Redd had not joined the Trojans, senior Curtis McNeal and redshirt freshman Javorius Allen would be the only available scholarship tailbacks heading into the game Saturday against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

"It just goes back to how important getting Silas was," Kiffin said. "We're sure happy to have him."

Morgan, who started two games in 2011, rushed for seven yards in his only carry against Hawaii.

Morgan had reconstructive surgery on his right knee after suffering an injury in high school. Kiffin did not specify whether Morgan reinjured the same knee or how long he would be sidelined.

Heading home

Players are allotted four tickets for the game Saturday, so linebacker Anthony Sarao, a New Jersey native, is "hounding" teammates for extras.

"My list is like 30 or 40 deep right now," he said.

Sarao's problem is that Redd, from Norwalk, Conn., and safety Gerald Bowman, from Philadelphia, also are asking teammates.

Sarao said a trip to Manhattan with teammates would be "cool." Asked what he thought the chances of that happening would be, he said, "slim and none."

Second chance

Linebacker Simione Vehikite said he was thankful and "very grateful" that he was allowed to return to the program after serving about 31/2 months in jail for his involvement in a 2011 automobile accident.

"I want to leave it at the past and move forward," he said. "I apologize to all the fans for my wrongdoing."

Kiffin said a coach's job allows for providing second chances.

"He's paid a big price and missed a lot of stuff and is very embarrassed and so I'm glad we can give him this chance," Kiffin said. "And hopefully he proves us right."

Asked if he had considered suspending Vehikite for a game or two, Kiffin said, "he basically was suspended from our program for a long time." Vehikite did not play against Hawaii, "so you could consider it being suspended; we just didn't make a big deal of it," Kiffin said.

No sweat

Under Kiffin, USC has not done stadium walk-throughs the day before road games. But the Trojans will visit MetLife Stadium on Friday.

"The only reason was, we're there two days early and we're bored, so we needed something to do," Kiffin said.

USC also traveled two days before games at Hawaii in 2010 and Notre Dame in 2011.

The Trojans held light practices at local high schools before those games.

"We're not going to do anything except walk," at the stadium, Kiffin said. "We're not going to sweat."

Quick hits

The Trojans will practice Thursday morning and then depart for New Jersey. ... USC is playing a game in East Rutherford, N.J., for the first time since defeating Penn State, 29-5, in 2000.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.comlatimesklein

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