The future of the USC tailback spot became a little clearer on Friday with the announcement that Ronald Jones would be playing for the Trojans.
Jones, the No. 5 tailback in the ESPN300, got the televised broadcast of the Under-Armour game started with his pledge to USC, then he proceeded to show Trojan fans what they will be getting with a 58-yard touchdown run that featured his high end speed. He chose USC over Notre Dame after originally being a verbal commit to Oklahoma State.
It’s the third running back commit for the Trojans in the class of 2015, which addresses a potential major need for a team that could return only two scholarship tailbacks next year, one of whom will be returning from a season-ending injury.
Buck Allen led USC in rushing with 1,489 yards in 2014 as a redshirt junior, but is considered a likely candidate to enter the upcoming NFL draft. Justin Davis will definitely be back, he gained 595 yards on the ground this season after coming back from an ankle injury that cut short his season in 2013. Tre Madden sat out the entire season after suffering a turf toe injury in fall camp, but is expected to be ready to go for spring ball.
Assuming Allen does declare for the draft, the presence of Davis and Madden does give the Trojans a pair of backs who have seem some success in their careers. Davis had four touchdowns this season, and can be an effective slashing runner. Madden offers a 225-pound "big-back" option, who ran for more than 700 yards in 2013 as a redshirt sophomore. But the tailback spot is one where depth is often needed. USC was able to get through the 2014 season with only two backs, but that is the exception.
Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian has made it know that he wanted to bring in multiple running backs in the upcoming recruiting class to help fill the immediate need, and right now it appears as if he has filled those spots quite well.
Jones is known for his speed and natural instincts for the position, not to mention a 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame, and he ran for 2,009 yards and 28 touchdowns at McKinney (Texas) North. USC also reached into Texas for Aca'Cedric Ware from Class 6A, Div. 2 state champion Cedar Hill, who ran for 2,440 yards and 34 touchdowns. Ware is another back with good instincts, a "one-cut-and-go" style, along with the toughness of a downhill runner.
The wild card in the mix could be Dominic Davis, who is a verbal commit as a running back but could also be used as a slot receiver. Davis has the kind of speed that could fit well with the way Sarkisian liked to use receiver/defensive back Adoree' Jackson in versatile roles on the offensive side of the ball.
USC has 18 commits for the class of 2015.