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Spring Ball Wrap Up: Which USC Running Back Will be the Odd Man Out?

The running back room is filled with talent, but the competition remains high.

Another Spring camp is officially in the books, and according to Clay Helton, things are progressing nicely. 

One major area of focus this Spring was working on improving the Trojans' run game and run production. USC's running backs struggled throughout the 2020 season with injuries and finding opportunities to make big time plays. 

Although USC finished last in the Pac-12 for rushing yards [2020], finding a clear balance between establishing a solid pass and run game is critical for the progression of the program.

The good news is, USC returns with plenty of depth in their running back room. 

Seniors Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr return for another year with the Trojans and an opportunity to increase their draft stock this season. 

“It’s a bunch of veterans in that room this year" said Helton when discussing the running back room in his final Spring press conference. "But you know, there’s depth and talent in that room, and it's going to help us for next year.” [Helton]

Alongside Carr and Malepeai, USC returns with the addition of Texas transfer, Keaontay Ingram, freshman Brandon Campbell, and Kenan Christon who showed strides of excellence in 2020. Christon was unable to participate in Spring camp due to his obligations to USC's track and field team, which could set him back slightly. 

Coach Mike Jinks made it clear this Spring, that moving forward USC will feature just two tailbacks on the line of scrimmage. This makes the fight for carries even more intense.

Texas transfer Keaontay Ingram had the most consistent Spring out of all the backs. He showed his physicality in tackle situations and bursted through holes with power and speed. 

Vavae Malepeai returns as the Trojans starter for the past two seasons, and tends to play with tremendous consistency when he is healthy. Carr and Christon are two other solid assets who demonstrated speed and agility this Spring.

It's no secret that the running back position is one of the most injury prone groups on the football field. And based on USC's past history with their tailbacks, it's encouraging to have several options available at their disposal.  

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Which players will emerge as the two starters still remains unclear at this time. However, if Ingram continues to impress like he did this Spring, his chances of cracking the starting lineup look high. 

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Promo Photo: USC Athletics

Sam Levy contributed to this article