LOS ANGELES -- Since first stepping on the field for USC in September 2010, cornerback Torin Harris has missed nearly half of the Trojans' games (12 of 27) with an assortment of injuries.
And, when he has been healthy, his performances have been up-and-down at best. The best single play he's produced in a USC uniform -- an impressive game-saving interception in the 2011 season opener against Minnesota -- only needed to happen because he got beaten badly for a Gophers touchdown on the previous drive.
Yet, USC Trojans coach Lane Kiffin has steadfastly supported Harris over the last two years. Where does Kiffin's confidence come from? His answer's simple.
"Because we've seen it," Kiffin said Thursday. "I think Torin was playing really, really well at the beginning of last season, and it would be hard to argue that he wasn't playing as well as Nickell (Robey) at the time."
This wasn't the first time Kiffin compared Harris to Robey, arguably the Trojans' top defender. "When he's completely right, I think Torin's really good," Kiffin said. "And we've seen it on film so we don't have to guess."
Kiffin has proven capable of predicting talent before it fully shows up in game situations. He knew receiver Marqise Lee was going to be a star after a week or two of fall camp last year, a fact the rest of us took another month or two to come around to.
Harris is probably the best option of any of USC's current cornerbacks. Given that, he has his teammates' support, including Robey's.
"Torin Harris is getting better every day," Robey said this week. "We believe in him as a team. He's been down with a couple injuries, but he's gonna be better."