USC's Running Back Room is 'Highly Competitive' This Spring

The Trojans need to improve their run game if they want to be back atop of the Pac-12 conference, and the competition is heating up.
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During media availability on Saturday morning, Clay Helton discussed the progression of USC's first two weeks of spring practice, and the overall focus for the offseason. 

One priority for the Trojans on the offensive side of the ball is improving the run game.

During the 2020 season, USC saw an average of only 97.3 rushing yards per game and only 3.2 average rushing yards per attempt.

"I thought the UCLA game was a great example of what we are trying to be, you look up and Vavae [Malepeai] has got 19 carries and he's got four or five catches and you look up and he has got 23 or 24 touches," Helton said. 

"That's what we would like to be, last year we ran into the injury bug at the position. And really, we felt that coming off that, we wanted to provide either greater depth and provide even more talent to the room." (Helton)

The Trojans get back Vavae Malepeai, Stephen Carr, Kenon Christon and Quincy Jountti this season. 

Malepeai led the running backs in the 2020 season with 238 yards. 

The additions of freshman, Brandon Campbell, and Keaontay Ingram who transferred from Texas, will also add more depth and talent to the position in 2021.

After losing running back Markese Stepp to the NCAA transfer portal, Helton is thrilled by the additions of these two men. 

Campbell is a 5'10, 190-pound freshman from Katy [Texas]. He "is a natural runner with good lateral quickness and runs instincts. He doesn’t possess great length, nor does he have an elite second gear. However, his skills set projects him to fit as an every-down back in an offense with a rushing attack that features an even blend of zone and gap/man blocking concepts." [SI All American]

Texas transfer Keaontay Ingram, fled Steve Sarkisian's new offense to join the Trojans this season. After spending three seasons with the Longhorns the former four-star recruit tallied 1,811 rushing yards, 339 carries and 11 touchdowns. He brings college experience, speed and size to the table. 

While the running back group is still being evaluated, Helton expressed his goals for the position this spring and going forward.

"We'd love to have a guy that can touch the ball anywhere from 22/25 times a game and a second guy come in that is able to spell him with 12/15 touches. We are searching for that - it is a highly competitive room, it's a talented room right now - and it is fun to watch." (Helton)

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