When you get drafted, are your track skills going to get you a contract or your football skills?
Lane Kiffin asked cornerback Nickell Robey that very question this week, when the junior Robey was presented with a decision between track and football for his Saturday afternoon whereabouts. The Trojans' first big track meet of the season, taking place Saturday on campus, coincides with the USC's first scrimmage of the spring.
Robey, Marqise Lee, Tony Burnett and D.J. Morgan -- the football team's four track participants -- can only do one of the two events because of NCAA rules restricting student-athlete hours in a given week. Everybody but Morgan will do track.
Of course, Robey says Kiffin was joking about the football-track thing. And the head coach supported Robey, Lee and Burnett's decision to do track instead of football, even though the parties involved said it was tough to pick.
Burnett didn't realize until this week that he wouldn't be able to do both. Robey said it was a tough decision to make once he was given the choice of only one or the other.
"Should I ditch the track meet and do the scrimmage?" he said Thursday. "It was a thought that popped into my head."
The three participants will all do jumps exclusively. They had run the 4x100m relay in one of USC's early meets but those plans have been scrapped, track & field coach Ron Allice said Thursday.
One reason for that is Morgan's absence, with the less-established redshirt sophomore picking the scrimmage over the meet because of the opportunity provided on the football field. Allice said he agreed with that decision, believing Morgan did himself a favor by coming out to track early on and getting in shape for the beginning of spring practice.
"With Morgan, it was more just to prepare for spring ball," Allice said. "He just wasn't himself last year. And so I like the kid a lot and I just wanted the kid to get out there and have fun and get fit so it could reflect on football.
"He would love to do it, but they're shallow at back. This is his chance. Track's a sideline at this point in his life."