Junior cornerback Isiah Wiley was supposed to enroll early at USC this year as a junior-college transfer from Arizona Western College and compete for a starting cornerback spot.
It turned out he couldn't enroll early because of academic restrictions and, in turn, he couldn't really compete for a staring spot, either. By the time he got to campus for fall camp, Torin Harris and Tony Burnett had already done enough in the spring to distance themselves from the other corners and potential newcomers.
Now, though, Harris is out with a shoulder injury and Burnett is out due to ineffectiveness. Anthony Brown got the start last week against Arizona and didn't perform horribly, but it's clear the USC coaching staff is examining its other options because of the bye week.
Chief among those options: Wiley, the 6-1, 185-pounder who was the star of Sunday's practice for the Trojans, breaking up a number of potential completions throughout the session.
"He was actually the MVP of the day," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said after practice. "He did some good things, which was great to see.
"Maybe he’s one of those stories of a guy that pops up during the bye week and takes on the challenge of wanting to play, and earn himself some playing time, hopefully."
It was Wiley's second straight superb practice. Friday, he finished a solid day with a pick-six off of freshman quarterback Cody Kessler, wrapping up the team drill portion of practice.
Kiffin said that the extra days of practice provided by the bye week have been beneficial to Wiley, who was behind since he got to campus. With no pressure of an impending opponent, he learned more of his responsibilities and looked like a more capable, more game-ready corner than he had in his limited special-teams chances in the season's first five games.
"He looks more confident," Kiffin said Sunday. "It’s so hard of transitioning, of coming in without a spring, for anybody to come in and play right away and learn the system. So unfortunately he was here then he wasn’t here and so that’s a lot of time he would have had so now he’s just catching up."
Wiley could very well start in three days against Cal. The other options across from Nickell Robey are Harris, who remains out with a shoulder injury; Brown, probably the most likely candidate at this point; and Burnett, he who has seriously struggled of late.