Kiffin insists QB spot up for grabs

After he was hired to replace Pete Carroll as USC's coach, Lane Kiffin said every spot on the team would be open for competition. Monday, he said that included the quarterback position.

Kiffin, in a meeting with reporters ahead of Tuesday's spring practice kickoff, said Matt Barkley, who started all but one of USC's games last season, will start on equal footing with Mitch Mustain.

"That's open," Kiffin said. "Both guys will have exactly equal reps tomorrow."

Barkley, who missed a 16-13 loss at Washington last season because of a shoulder injury, completed 211 of 352 passes for 2,735 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also threw 14 interceptions. Mustain, who has been a backup at USC the last two seasons after transferring from Arkansas, stepped in during two games in 2009 but did not attempt a pass.

Kiffin also said he was unsure whether linebacker Jarvis Jones, who suffered a neck injury that caused him to miss the last five games of last season, would return to play for the Trojans.

"I'm not very positive about the possibilities of him playing here, at all," Kiffin said. "I don't know how to describe it from a medical perspective. There's a serious concern that hits or a number of hits could lead to permanent damage. Obviously, Jarvis' safety is the No. 1 issue."

Jones had 13 tackles in a reserve role his freshman season and played on special teams before suffering a neck sprain at Oregon.

The Trojans' spring practice begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Howard Jones Field.