LOS ANGELES (AP) - Southern California reinstated tailback Marc Tyler from suspension Tuesday, clearing last season's leading rusher to play Saturday against Utah.
Tyler missed USC's season-opening win over Minnesota and much of training camp for a series of disciplinary problems culminating in a rant on TMZ. Tyler has been quiet ever since, and he met several unspecified requirements from coach Lane Kiffin and athletic director Pat Haden to earn reinstatement.
Kiffin said Tyler has been "doing everything right" since his suspension July 18. Tyler returned to practice Aug. 24, working with the Trojans' scout team.
"He still has a lot of work to do, but it's good to have a guy who has played a lot back," Kiffin said. "Any time you can add a guy who has been there, done it, they usually play better."
Tyler, the son of former NFL running back Wendell Tyler, was suspended indefinitely after TMZ's cameras recorded him outside a West Hollywood nightclub implying the Trojans pay their players. Tyler appeared to be drunk and joking, but USC wasn't amused - certainly not while its football program labors under tough NCAA sanctions for a series of misdeeds surrounding Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Reggie Bush.
USC is in the second year of a postseason ban during four years of NCAA probation. The Trojans also will lose 30 football scholarships.
After announcing Tyler's indefinite suspension, Kiffin said Tyler's comments were "so not what we're about," saying Tyler's rant had "a real arrogance to it." Tyler also appeared before a student discipline committee earlier in the year to answer two complaints against him.
But Tyler quietly returned to practice last month, and he was back with the USC offense Tuesday. He left the morning practice early to attend a class and didn't speak to reporters.
Tyler returns to another crowded backfield at Tailback U., with Curtis McNeal, Dillon Baxter and freshmen D.J. Morgan and Amir Carlisle already vying for playing time. Morgan was the Trojans' surprise starter last weekend against Minnesota, rushing for 70 yards, while McNeal added a 27-yard run.
Kiffin had to explain his own ill-advised comments Tuesday after he told a postgame television interviewer that the Trojans have only "got two good players on our offense." Robert Woods caught a school-record 17 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns, while Matt Barkley completed a school-record 34 passes for 304 yards.
"What I (meant) was that there were two guys that had great games, so I didn't phrase it (well)," Kiffin said. "I told our offense that this morning, too. I didn't mean it that way. Obviously, we had some guys that didn't play well ... but I didn't phrase it the right way."
Baxter barely played in the Trojans' opener, getting no carries and catching one pass for a 3-yard gain. The sophomore - among the nation's top recruits out of San Diego two years ago - and his parents met with Kiffin over the weekend, but Baxter said he isn't considering transferring.
"Out of everything that was said, I (realize) I need to work harder," said Baxter, who rushed for 252 yards last season. "Come out here and work harder than anybody else. It was probably just me falling into a little bit of being lazy."
Baxter blamed himself for an intermittent work ethic last season as well, when the former quarterback often played out of a wildcat formation. He realizes the competition for carries will only increase with Tyler back in action.
"There's still things I need to learn and pick up more as I step up my game," Baxter said. "We didn't talk about how much I was going to play this week. (Kiffin) just said to come out here and work hard, and we'll be happy."
Kiffin also said he doesn't plan to replace secondary coach Willie Mack Garza this season after Garza resigned last week. Assistant head coach Monte Kiffin and graduate assistant Sammy Knight will take over Garza's duties.