In just one week, we have seen defensive end Malik Jackson and cornerback Byron Moore announce their decisions to transfer to Tennessee and LA Harbor College respectively, as well as the release of top offensive line recruit Seantrel Henderson from his letter of intent. However, it doesn't appear as if the player exodus in the wake of the NCAA sanctions is going to suddenly come to a screeching halt anytime soon. Late Thursday night, junior fullback D.J. Shoemate notified Shelley Smith of ESPN that he will transfer to Connecticut due to his desire to switch positions to running back, which wasn't going to happen at 'SC. Per ESPN:
He said he is making the move because he wants to play running back, and because USC has such depth at the position, he didn't think he would get the chance. USC has used him as a wide receiver and at fullback. He was expected to compete for the starting spot in 2010.
"I have much love for the USC," he said. "The school is great, the fans are phenomenal and I'll be a Trojan for life. This was a business decision. When the sanctions came, the opportunity came to go. Playing running back is what my passion is and at UConn I will have an opportunity to play right away and hopefully contribute to an up-and-coming program."
Shoemate was a Super Prep All-American out of Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif. He is the fourth Trojan to transfer since the sanctions were handed down.
Not a shocker. Guys who weren't expected to play much in 2010 or even 2011 are going to look to take advantage of the new transfer rules that allow them to avoid sitting out a season. That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. It's tough to imagine that the starters will all of sudden pack their bags and head elsewhere. But, guys like Shoemate, who have been relegated to reserve roles for most of their careers, are going to be looking to better their careers, and you can't fault them for that.
Jackson, as well as Jordan Campbell, certainly had their issues. Campbell nearly got kicked off the team in April, and the coaching staff had become increasingly critical of Jackson's work ethic as well. If they weren't screaming at Everson Griffen during practices, they were likely yelling in Jackson's ear. Doesn't mean they're bad kids, but from what I've been told, Kiffin didn't really pressure either guy to stay put.
But on the other hand, Moore and Shoemate are hard-working guys simply looking for better opportunities. All indications point to the fact that USC did in fact want both players to stay. Their departures don't mean they didn't "fit in." It appears that they simply wanted a new start elsewhere. If they feel that it'll be better for them in the long run, then we wish them the best of luck moving forward.