Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 4/8/12

The USC Trojans got good news the last two weeks, landing 4-star cornerback Chris Hawkins and top-ranked 2013 quarterback Max Browne, but the optimism was tempered by Tre Madden’s season-ending knee injury.

Last weekend, Hawkins put on a show at the Los Angeles Nike Camp, taking home MVP honors among cornerbacks before selecting USC over Pac-12 rival Stanford.

A few days later, Max Browne, the top quarterback recruit from the class of 2013, also committed to USC. Browne picked the Trojans over his home state Washington Huskies and the Oklahoma Sooners, even though the Trojans already have three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster for 2013 – Cody Kessler, Max Wittek, and Jesse Scroggins.

After two big recruiting wins, USC suffered a big loss on Thursday, when Madden suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice.

Madden, who played linebacker for the Trojans as a freshman in 2011, switched to running back this spring to add much-needed depth at the position. He quickly became one of the most exciting stories for USC this spring, but unfortunately for the team, it was a story that ended even quicker than it began. After strong showings for several weeks, Madden suddenly went down without contact on April 5, the result of a torn ligament. The injury will require surgery, and USC announced on Friday that Madden would miss the entire 2012 season.

Madden’s injury once again leaves the Trojans dangerously thin at tailback. Senior Cutis McNeal and redshirt sophomore D.J. Morgan are the only experienced returners, but there aren’t many inexperienced backs waiting for their chance, either. Redshirt freshman Javorious “Buck” Allen, still working back his way back from a hamstring injury, saw significant playing time during Saturday’s scrimmage. He didn’t wow, but he admitted he’s only about 85-90% healthy. Allen is still very much an unknown variable for the Trojans – he redshirted last year while returning from an injury suffered in high school – but USC needs him to get back to full-strength and stay healthy.

USC will have to wait until fall to try anyone else at tailback. Incoming fullback Jahleel Pinner might get some looks at tailback, and freshman wide receiver/runningback Nelson Agholor, who likely hoped to follow in Robert Woods’ and Marqise Lee’s standout freshman footsteps, will almost certainly be asked to take more reps at tailback, where there’s a much greater need.

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