USC running back Amir Carlisle has announced that he will transfer from USC to Notre Dame.
This is unusual news.
Players don’t usually leave a school after a successful freshman year, especially when they are as well positioned as Carlisle was within the USC backfield. Carlisle clearly has the explosive playmaking ability that Lane Kiffin likes plus he also brings an element of toughness so his future was bright in terms of playing time.
A lot of people were surprised this season when Kiffin burned Carlisle’s redshirt year, but it showed how much Kiffin liked the young man’s playing style. In all honesty, the primary thing that kept Carlisle from achieving a lot more this year was injuries.
Carlisle had an impressive fall camp before suffering an ankle injury during the final week of practice, which caused him to miss the first three games. Once he was healthy enough to return to action, Kiffin inserted him immediately into the Arizona State game Sept. 24, but he hurt the ankle and his knee in that game and was limited for the remainder of the year. He ended the season with 19 carries for 118 yards (6.2 yards per carry).
There is no doubt that Carlisle showed enough in his first year to be a serious contender for more playing time in 2012. Curtis McNeal is entrenched as the starting tailback, but Carlisle would have headed into spring ball as the favorite for the No. 2 spot ahead of D.J. Morgan, George Farmer and Buck Allen.
Now he is gone and not only is the USC backfield weakened, but a primary rival is strengthened at the same time. It’s rare to see transfers within such a major rivalry but this situation is unique. The Carlisle family says the transfer is due to family reasons that were dictated in part by the fact that Duane Carlisle -- Amir’s father -- took a job at Purdue University. It remains to be seen if that was the only factor.
Things were working for Amir Carlisle at USC. He was part of an explosive offense, one that was as hot as any in college football by the end of last season. His role had been defined, he had a coach who believed in him. This is not a flighty young man either, this is a serious and thoughtful person who chose USC for a lot of reasons.
Apparently those reasons have changed, and he is now gone.
This is huge news for guys like Morgan, Farmer and Allen. It could also have an impact on the recruiting trail with someone like D.J. Foster. It’s clear that Foster is intrigued by the idea of playing offense, and now there is a need for another back at USC.
Kiffin has already indicated that Farmer will see time in roles at both running back and receiver. This will be the first spring ball for Allen so we don’t really know what to expect from him. That leaves Morgan and a big opportunity -- Morgan has impressed the coaches in the past with his big-play running ability but has also been in the doghouse due to some fumbles. The potential is now there for him to take advantage of this situation as much as anybody with a strong performance in spring ball.