Carroll tabs Booty as USC's No. 1 quarterback

Updated: April 14, 2006, 8:53 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- John David Booty was listed Friday as Southern California's No. 1 quarterback, despite missing nearly all of spring practice because of a bulging disc in his back that required surgery.

USC coach Pete Carroll said Booty would enter training camp in August ahead of redshirt freshman Mark Sanchez, who was impressive while getting most of the work at quarterback during the past three weeks.

"That only makes sense to me," Carroll told reporters. "[Booty] feels terrific -- he has no pain at all. To see John David feeling so good gives us the feeling he's going to jump out of this rehab. He wants to throw right now -- he feels like he can throw right now."

USC's final spring practice Friday was rained out and rescheduled for next week.

Carroll said Booty, who underwent surgery March 31, faced a rehabilitation period of at least eight weeks.

"We've got to make sure John David makes it back," Carroll said. "I wouldn't count Mark out, he's done too well. Mark's gained more ground on him -- he had a great spring. His bid to start has been enhanced by that."

Booty completed 27 of 42 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions as Matt Leinart's backup last fall. Booty will be a fourth-year junior next season.

Whoever wins the job will be succeeding a pair of Heisman Trophy winners -- Carson Palmer won the award as college football's outstanding player in 2002, and Leinart won it in 2004.

Leinart won the starting job in spring practice three years ago, and guided USC to a 37-2 record from 2003-05.

"Mark Sanchez is ahead of where Matt was [three years ago] at this time. John David is far ahead of that," Carroll said. "Matt went ripping from this point forward, as we all know.

"I'm not worried about it -- I think we're real lucky to be in the position we're in. There's no doubt in my mind we'll expect real good quarterback play."

Ryan Powdrell, a 250-pound converted linebacker, was listed as the No. 1 tailback on the depth chart, but faces stiff competition from several highly regarded incoming freshmen this summer.

"Absolutely, heck yeah," Carroll said when asked if one of those freshmen could win the starting job. "We're counting on that competition."

Powdrell is also expected to play at fullback.

Tailbacks Reggie Bush and LenDale White both passed up their final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft, leaving USC with very little experience at tailback.

White had been forecast as a first-round pick, but it was reported Thursday in Denver that he had a torn right hamstring.

USC is scheduled to open the season Sept. 2 at Arkansas.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press