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July 1, 2008A running back's most valuable assets are his legs. Take them away, and things get tough.
Marc Tyler knows it.
The five-star running back broke his leg after a horse-collar tackle during his senior season at Oaks Christian High School, and the injury helped push him towards a redshirt year in his first season at USC.
"It was rough," Tyler said. "I wanted to come in and help make an impact right away. I had such high expectations for myself coming into college.
"I had to redshirt, and it wasn't something I wanted to do. It was frustrating, but I got through it."
Tyler, one of three running backs in the 2007 recruiting class, had to sit and watch fellow freshman Joe McKnight electrify Trojan fans in his rookie campaign.
The sitting and the watching hurt more than the injury.
Tyler said he learned from the experience though, and the pain suffered on the field helped make him a stronger person off of it.
"I found out that there's more to life than football," Tyler said. "At any time, I can get hurt. It can all go away like that.
"Having to watch everyone play, I decided I was going to work hard."
Tyler's been putting in serious work this summer.
He said he's not been limited in any of strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle's drills, and he's operating pain free.
"I'm feeling strong," Tyler said. "I'd say I'm back to 100 percent. If anything, I'm even faster.
"I'm back to where I was football-wise. I just have to keep putting in work, getting better."
It's unclear where Tyler will fit in this season in a deep, talented backfield. C.J. Gable, Stafon Johnson, McKnight and Allen Bradford are all ahead of Tyler on the depth chart. Broderick Green, who also redshirted, figures to be in the mix in short-yardage situations.
"This is why I came to the university, to compete with the best," Tyler said. "I'm willing to work on the scout team or the first team, but I do want to contribute."
Tyler said he wants to make an impact this season, and he expects to get some touches.
"I've been waiting. I just want to get out on the field," Tyler said. "I'm willing to work and do whatever I can to do be a player for us."
And when it happens, all the pain and frustration from injuries and a year on the sidelines will vanish.
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