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USC’s Darwin Barlow says fight for snaps will make him better

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It wasn’t way back that Darwin Barlow was the brand new man within the operating backs room. Presently final spring, he was nonetheless at Texas Christian, nonetheless months away from leaving for USC.

A 12 months later, Barlow is all of the sudden the final scholarship again standing from final 12 months’s backfield. He additionally occurs to be the least skilled, a quirk of a roster remade by means of the switch portal.

“It’s like free company!” operating backs coach Kiel McDonald mentioned with amusing.

When Barlow met with Lincoln Riley quickly after he was employed as USC’s coach, he hadn’t anticipated such an overhaul. Riley mentioned Barlow was an excellent match for USC’s new offense, and Barlow was thrilled with the evaluation. He knew Riley introduced the very best out in his backs, with six 1,000-yard rushers in seven seasons on the helm of Oklahoma’s offense. Now all indicators pointed towards a equally vital position for the redshirt sophomore.

That imaginative and prescient obtained lots blurrier by late January, when two beginning Pac-12 backs emerged from the portal to signal with USC. Stanford’s Austin Jones dedicated on Jan. 20. Oregon’s Travis Dye joined a day later. Collectively, they’d convey 5,665 profession all-purpose yards and 42 complete touchdowns to USC’s backfield, dwarfing the expertise of their backfield-mate.

However Barlow, now all of the sudden thrust right into a stiff competitors for carries, couldn’t be happier.

“I’m excited to have them round me,” Barlow mentioned Tuesday. “They’ve performed at school applications. They’ve gained. They’ve had success. I’m simply completely happy to have them round me and to study from them. It’s going to convey the very best out of me.”

Dye and Jones mentioned they felt the identical method about becoming a member of with Riley, who promised every can be used as all-purpose backs, able to grinding on the bottom and taking part in an element within the passing sport.

Barlow has by no means fairly been used that method. He has simply 14 catches over three seasons. However the prospect of a extra versatile position has Barlow particularly enthusiastic about USC’s backfield.

“He makes use of the operating again in so many various methods,” he mentioned.

That has meant a way more advanced playbook to grasp this spring.

“Me and my homeboys have been joking within the operating again room the opposite day, if you happen to didn’t know the play, you can simply run a swing final 12 months,” Barlow mentioned. “Now, you gotta know. You’re doing every thing.”

Oregon running back Travis Dye runs with the ball during a game against Washington.

Oregon operating again Travis Dye runs with the ball throughout a sport towards Washington on Nov. 6, 2021, in Seattle.

(Stephen Brashear / Related Press)

Dye must be used to that type of utilization by now, having turned his four-year run at Oregon into probably the most prolific stretches for a operating again in class historical past. He thought of staying for one more season, in addition to coming into the draft. Different Pac-12, Large Ten and Large 12 colleges reached out, however the alternative for him and his fiancee to return to Southern California, the place he starred at Norco Excessive, was too excellent for the All-Pac-12 rusher to show down.

Whether or not he’ll have the identical prolific position in USC’s backfield stays to be seen.

“There’s all the time going to be competitors all over the place,” Dye mentioned. “I’ve been competing my entire profession. It wasn’t actually a tough determination in that side.”

For all of the 1,000-yard rushers his offense has yielded, Riley hasn’t shied away from a rotation when crucial. Two operating backs had 78 or extra rush makes an attempt for Oklahoma final season. In 2020, the Sooners had 4 with at the least 35 carries.

The same rotation could possibly be within the playing cards this season for USC, which will even add electrifying freshman Raleek Brown to the operating backs room this summer season.

“You possibly can’t have only one operating again,” Jones mentioned. “You want at the least two or three nice operating backs.”

USC has simply three complete in camp proper now. However all three may make a declare earlier than the autumn arrives.