At the football team’s first practice since returning from spring break, USC junior receiver Robert Woods announced that he will miss the remainder of spring practice.
“[The ankle’s] not completely healed, but it’s almost there,” Woods said.
Though he was a first-team All-American wideout and the presumptive No. 1 receiver, Woods’ ankle plagued him all of last season.
“After continuing evaluations on Robert, we thought he would almost be full strength by now,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “He’s had a setback — [the ankle’s] not healing fast, so our doctors recommend that we sit him to be sure to make sure it heals.”
Kiffin preferred that Woods be on the field as soon as possible, but he knew that Woods had to sit some time out to fully heal the ankle.
“Watching him, he’s still limping around, and the whole thing was that we [had surgery] in the offseason to have this thing fixed,” Kiffin said. “We have to get [his ankle] right no matter what, no matter how much time that is, to make sure we don’t have to go through that again.”
Kiffin called redshirt sophomore linebacker Hayes Pullard one of the standout players in camp so far.
“He ended up with the tie for lead in tackles on the team last year. He understands the system more now,” Kiffin said. “He’s a leader and he’s very aggressive in his style of play.”
Pullard was a very good all-around player last season, but he has plenty to improve on — and he knows it.
“[Linebacker coach Scottie Hazelton] and [former linebacker coach Joe Barry] just told me to be a peak performer at everything,” Pullard said. “I want to be better all around so I can be the best linebacker there is.”
Pullard stated that having the older linebackers on the roster to teach them helped him and his fellow linebackers.
“It was a real benefit having seniors in Shane Horton and Chris Galippo — even though they were behind us and in front of us sometimes — teaching us young guys. They didn’t care about nothing else,” Pullard said. “It was a brotherhood and a big team effort to teach one another.”
Kiffin experimented on Tuesday by having sophomore linebacker Tre Madden line up at running back as a result of some creative thinking over spring break.
“This is the time to try [experimenting with players at new positions]. It may not work at all, but as you go back and look at our testing — height, weight and speed — he would be one of the best guys on our whole team,” Kiffin said.
He said that Madden was excited to try out tailback. Kiffin plans to run Madden as running back throughout this week and evaluate after Saturday’s practice.
“If it works out, then we’ve got something we don’t have right now,” Kiffin said. “If it doesn’t, we’ll go back.”
Notable players that did not participate in Tuesday’s practice were redshirt sophomore linebacker Dion Bailey, senior center Khaled Holmes, redshirt sophomore quarterback Jesse Scroggins, sophomore wideout George Farmer, redshirt sophomore tight end Xavier Grimble, senior safety Drew McAllister, redshirt junior linebacker Marquise Simmons and redshirt freshman tight end Junior Pomee.