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Saturday, April 19, 2008

USC's Tupou has a nose in front

Thanks to an injury, Trojans' sophomore has a chance to step into Ellis' spot.
By Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 19, 2008
Former USC nose tackle Mike Patterson was a first-round pick in the 2005 NFL draft.

Sedrick Ellis, his successor for the Trojans, is expected to be the same next Saturday in the 2008 version. Sophomore Christian Tupou knows the recent history of the position, but he is not intimidated by it.

"I really didn't come here to fill anybody's shoes," Tupou said Friday. "I just came here to make my own mark."

Tupou did that, and more, during four weeks of spring practice that concludes Saturday with the Trojans' annual scrimmage at the Coliseum.

Junior Averell Spicer was regarded as the front-runner to succeed Ellis, but a knee injury kept him out of workouts and he had arthroscopic surgery last week. That opened the door for the 6-foot-2, 275-pound Tupou, who relentlessly harassed quarterbacks by taking advantage of a still-developing offensive line.

"The moment they told me [Spicer] wasn't going be in for the spring it was like all my prayers have been answered and I could capture my spot," Tupou said.

Tupou and Spicer were listed as co-starters on the depth chart USC released Friday, but Coach Pete Carroll indicated that Tupou had the edge going into training camp in August.

"Necessity has forced Christian to move ahead," Carroll said. "He plays so hard with a great motor, he's held onto the No. 1 spot with Averell on the sideline."

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The depth chart, already loaded with 10 scholarship receivers, got deeper when Carroll announced that JC transfer Jordan Cameron had been admitted to school and would join the Trojans for the upcoming season.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Cameron played high school football at Newbury Park and attended Brigham Young in 2006 on a basketball scholarship. But Cameron, the brother of USC women's basketball player Brynn Cameron, redshirted as a freshman and then transferred last season to Ventura College, where he caught 22 passes for 438 yards and five touchdowns.

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