December 21, 2008

Practice Insider: Gable mulling options

There's a giant elephant roaming around Heritage Hall, and USC's players might be reluctant to talk about it.

The NFL is waiting for some of USC's talented athletes, and plenty of underclassmen have life-altering decisions to make.

Taylor Mays and Mark Sanchez aren't the only two USC underclassmen with plenty of soul-searching on the horizon.

Running back C.J. Gable said Sunday he's trying to figure out what he's going to do.

"I just want to see, but I'm not really sure yet. I still have to talk to my mom," Gable said. "I haven't sent in any paperwork. I'm still thinking it through."

Gable rushed for 604 yards and eight touchdowns on 101 carries in his sophomore season.

Gable has split time in the crowded Trojan backfield, and a move to the NFL could be a chance to become an every-down player.

"I could get more carries and be a main guy, but I don't know," Gable said. "I still have to figure it out."

USC head coach Pete Carroll talked to Gable and Stafon Johnson about their futures briefly.

"I just wanted them to consider getting their evaluations done," Carroll said. "That's all so far. I look forward to talking to those guys more."

Instead of shying away from draft talk, Carroll said he prefers to seek out his players.

"I don't wait. I want to make it easy on them. I think guys are a little uncomfortable the first time we talk about it. It's like I break the ice," Carroll said. "I don't want them to think they can't talk about it. They're a little reluctant and hesitant, understandably so.

"I just want to have a conversation and get some information so we can make sense of all of it."

Running backs coach Todd McNair said he's not sure yet if any of his backs are ready for the next level.

"All my guys are talented," he said. "They're all talented enough to be the NFL - at some time. We'll have to sit down and assess it."

Extra Points

• Gable said he learned a lesson after being benched against UCLA. Gable fumbled on USC's first play and only carried the ball twice more in the game.

"I learned not to show how I feel," Gable said. "They thought because of my reaction, I wasn't ready to go back in. That's just how I am. I was ready.

"The next time, I just won't show any emotion."

• Ex-NFL offensive coordinator Carl Smith returned home after spending much of the last week with the USC staff.

Carroll said nothing has been finalized in terms of Smith joining USC's staff as of yet.

"We're really going to figure it out after the bowl game," Carroll said.

• Cornerback Kevin Thomas did not practice Sunday because of tightness in his hamstring.

• Monday, the Trojans will stage a mock game in order to work on substitutions and game-like situations. At the end of practice, younger players will take part in an intense competition period.

It's USC's last practice before breaking until Dec. 26.

• Safety Kevin Ellison could return to practice once USC returns.

"We'll see how he does," Carroll said. "He's been doing some good stuff in rehab."

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