The depth at running back at USC is razor thin.
Just two scholarship backs - Curtis McNeal and D.J. Morgan - suited up on Tuesday, while redshirt freshman Buck Allen continued to nurse a hamstring.
With some time to think about the situation during spring break, head coach Lane Kiffin decided to give sophomore linebacker Tre Madden a look with the tailbacks.
"He's an aggressive player but he gives you a big guy that can run really fast," Kiffin said. "That's unusual to find. His testing doesn't happen very much. It doesn't mean that he can play running back but we'll see and if it works out then we got ourselves something that we don't have right now. If it doesn't, we'll go back."
Madden, who starred at linebacker for the legendary Bob Johnson at Mission Viejo High School, gave the opposition fits on the other side of the ball as the Diablos' Wildcat quarterback.
Carrying the ball on Tuesday reminded Madden of his high school days.
"It brought me back to high school, going out there and running the ball," Madden told the Orange County Register. "It felt really good. But I've got a lot of stuff to work on."
The change in position is something he's receptive to.
"He was excited about it," Kiffin said. "I wasn't going to do it if he didn't want to. We talked to him and he was ready for it. He had kind of been thinking about it himself."
Madden participated in individual as well as contact drills but did not participate in Tuesday's team drills. He left practice early to attend class.
In the reps he did get, he showed flashes of what he can do as a ballcarrier.
"You did see things in individual and things early in practice where you could see that he does have the burst you would need," Kiffin said. "He does have the speed and power that you would need and he does have good hands. We've known that all along. He's a very good athlete, so, maybe it'll work."
With just three scholarship tailbacks, offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu was just thrilled to have another body in the backfield.
"It's just a start," Polamalu said, "but it's nice that you had a young man that would feel that he can help our team somewhere."
Kiffin says Madden will participate with the running backs for the remainder of the week. The Trojans have Wednesday off and will return to the practice field Thursday before Saturday's practice at the Coliseum.
It will be the first of four trips to the Coliseum for the Trojans this spring concluding with the Spring Game on April 14.