Nelson Agholor, running back

UNIVERSAL CITY -- One key piece of 2012 roster news for the USC Trojans emerged Tuesday at Pac-12 media day: Top incoming recruit Nelson Agholor will begin his USC career as a running back, not a receiver.

Agholor, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound athlete from Tampa, Fla., was primarily recruited by most schools -- including the Trojans -- as a receiver. But he also displays impressive talent running out of the backfield on film and depth issues at that spot have forced USC to keep him there, at least at first.

The Trojans have only three scholarship running backs after sophomore sensation Tre Madden went down for the year in spring practice: starter Curtis McNeal, who has been injury-prone in his college career, backup D.J. Morgan and redshirt freshman Buck Allen.

"I just know the direction that we need to go, and that really came from Tre Madden’s injury," Kiffin said. "And as you look at it, we have to look at it.

"Injuries happen, and all the sudden you’re at one of these tough road games and what are you gonna do? You better have some answers. We’re trying to figure that out starting Day 1, not in the middle of camp."

On signing day in February, Kiffin said Agholor would be playing some running back but would primarily be a receiver. But the freshman's savvy has convinced the Trojans' third-year coach that he'd be able to handle a temporary switch.

"I think what’s special about Nelson is he’s such a great kid, much like Marqise and Robert, who came before him, that he’s gonna do whatever it takes to help us win," Kiffin said. "I think that that helps this transition, and he’s a student of the game so I think he’ll still be able to study the [receiver] stuff as well as the inside."