The most surprising development from Thursday’s practice was the re-instatement of redshirt junior linebacker Simione Vehikite to the roster for 2012. Vehikite missed spring practice due to ongoing legal issues stemming from a July 2011 incident where he left the scene of a car accident.
These issues resulted in Vehikite being sentenced to a year in jail in May for pleading no contest to two felony counts for driving with an .08 percent blood-alcohol level and causing injury.
Vehikite spent three months in jail this summer before being released earlier this week, and Kiffin confirmed that Vehikite received his scholarship back after re-joining the team this week.
“He has done everything, fulfilling his obligation to the team to get back,” Kiffin said of Vehikite, who took 20 units in the spring. Though he has returned, Kiffin indicated that Vehikite is unlikely to a play meaningful role this fall.
Though Kiffin did not discuss the current situation regarding USC’s 75 scholarships in further detail, Vehikite’s return makes it unlikely that incoming freshman wide receiver Darreus Rogers will qualify academically for USC by the university’s official enrollment deadline of Sept. 14.
On the practice field, the Trojans ran through a relatively light routine on Thursday as they prepared for their home opener.
During coach Lane Kiffin’s tenure, the Trojans have run a lighter practice designed to conserve player stamina on Wednesdays and Thursdays during the preseason and bye weeks. While Kiffin was unimpressed with Wednesday’s effort, he came away content with Thursday’s showing.
“I thought the guys were focused — very crisp, the offense especially,” Kiffin said.
While Saturday begins a season in which a BCS national title is within reach, Kiffin is making sure to limit unnecessary displays of confidence. He especially focused on the Trojans’ pregame routine and manner when they take the field before kickoff against the visiting Warriors on Saturday.
“Everyone wants their 40 minutes before kickoff to run around and get kind of fired up at each other in warm-ups and everything,” Kiffin said. “We just have to educate our guys and really guard against that, guard against losing energy.”