Tape It Up: USC: Bruised Ego

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USC: Bruised Ego

He's on the cover of Sports Illustrated in a Trojans jersey, but that's not stopping him - USC Tailback Emmanuel Moody is going to transfer. The sophomore tailback, who just happens to be the Trojans' second-leading rusher from last season, is leaving L.A. because he feels the team has forgotten him as he attemps to make a comeback from injury.

USC has unbelievable depth at the tailback position. With 10 guys all battling for time on the field in that spot, it was perhaps inevitable that this would happen, but it's interesting that the one player who chose to leave is blaming it on an injury comeback. Moody missed the last four games of the 2006 season with an ankle injury, and sat out of almost all of spring ball with a tweaked hamstring. He bruised his knee last Sunday in a team scrimmage and sat out of practices Monday and Tuesday before skipping Wednesday's walkthrough, the L.A. Times reported.

Head coach Pete Carroll told the AP that Moody's decision was not a snap one, and that the tailback is looking to join a program where he can be the star. After gaining 458 yards on 79 carries in 2006, it looked like Moody was on track to be that star at USC, but it's clear that the frustration caused by injury, and the resulting drop in attention from coaches at the nation's highest-regarded program, is enough to push him elsewhere.

With Moody out, those 10 tailbacks have suddenly been reduced to six. Freshman Marc Tyler broke his leg as a high school senior, and does not appear ready to play at all this year; sixth-year senior Hershel Dennis is suffering knee soreness; and freshman Joe McKnight has been fitted with a brace after spraining his knee in practice.

Aside from losing the physical presence and performance of one of the team's top runners, Moody's departure should have a definitive effect on team morale. Other players battling injuries may question their ability to return to the team, given the high level of Moody's production last season. The competition at tailback is sure to thin out, and although that won't dampen USC's title hopes this season, it may plant seeds in other players' heads regarding their futures at Southern California.

Still, we are talking about USC here. For every player who walks off the team, there are bound to be hundreds more waiting to willingly take his place.

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