Farmer practicing at running back

Get this: Talented first-year freshman receiver George Farmer, redshirting the 2011 season, has begun practicing at running back and could play the position long-term, Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said Wednesday.

Farmer, a five-star prospect from Gardena Serra (Calif.), was thought by many to be a potential starter at receiver this season before he arrived on campus over the summer. But he was bothered by nagging injuries in fall camp and never got much of a chance to audition for a starting spot, losing out to high school teammate Marqise Lee.

Of late, though, Farmer has practiced well -- especially on service team, emulating different opponents -- and impressed the Trojans' coaching staff with his resolve to get on the field sooner rather than later.

"He's been playing quarterback, tailback and receiver, and we've actually been putting him at running back in individuals and he looks great there," Kiffin said. "That could work out. That's something he did before he got to Serra, played running back.

"That could be real exciting. It would give us a big, physical guy and one of the fastest guys in the country."

At 6-1, 205, Farmer doesn't have the ideal body type for the tailback spot. But he could craft himself a niche as an upright runner in the mold of an Adrian Peterson, or he could simply become a dual threat running back/receiver for the Trojans, which they would obviously love.

The main motivation behind the move appears to be big-play potential. USC doesn't have another player as quick as Farmer at running back, save for maybe D.J. Morgan, who has had problems with keeping control of the ball so far this year.

"As we look at that position, we're still lacking in game-breaking speed back there as we continue to see in games," Kiffin said.

In any case, Farmer will most likely not be suiting up this season. Kiffin said there was a thought to pull off his redshirt and play him this season once he started heating up in recent weeks, but the Trojans decided to stick with the decision to keep him off the field.