The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, December 12, 1989 - Page 1#
Little Big Man
Ervins breaks mold of prototype Trojan tailback
by Adam Benson
Daily Football Writer
When Southern California's top
rusher Scott Lockwood dislocated a
thumb in their season opener against
Illinois, the Trojans found them-
selves in an unusual situation: they
had no tailback.
The school that produced O.J.
Simpson, Mike Garrett, Marcus
Allen and Charles White lacked that
big, tackle-ripping and high-profile
All they had was Ricky Ervins,
who may be a different version of
the USC tailback, but now he's
having the same type of success.
"I'm about 5-8, 190, that's a
whole different look (at USC). I
guess I'm kind of starting a new
trend," Ervins said. "The USC tra-
dition is usually about 6-foot-2-
inches, 210 pounds, and I'm below
Ervins' size has not interfered
with his success; he led the Pac-10
in rushing this year, gaining 1,269
yards on 239 carries this season.
USC coach Larry Smith said:
"Ricky has great acceleration and
great balance. This enables him to
get to the holes and get through
them. When he gets through them,
he's a guy that breaks a lot of
tackles. He's short, so he's low to
the ground, .but he's built very
strong. The speed, the balance, and
the strength tie together pretty well."
Even when facing constant
reminders of USC's great backs,
Ervins still has his own personal
heroes, including one that has faced
obstacles much like his own.
"Right now, I like Barry
Sanders," Ervins said. "I spoke with
Barry Sanders our first game. He
came to our hotel and we joked
around to see who was the tallest. I
got him by a little bit. He told me
that 'When you run, just run hard
because people don't expect you to
do well because you are small.' I
listened to him and he inspires me."
While Ervins may be a sign of
changing times at USC, few things
are different in the life of the 1989
Pac-10 rushing champion. He still
feels the need to make people aware
of what he can do.
"I just wanted to prove myself to
a lot of people," Ervins said. "There
were many people who doubted me
when I was growing up in high
school, saying that I would never
play at SC cause there was so much
talent there. They said I was too
small to play. I just wanted to go in
there and prove to people. When I
see those people - I just look dead
at them - I wouldn't say anything;
I just look at them and see what they
have to say."
Most of the talk about Ervins
centers around his running style; the
junior from Pasadena compares him-
self to former Michigan tailback
"I just kind of scoot," Ervins
said. "It's almost kind of hard for
people to see me, because I hide
behind my linemen. At the last min-
ute, I see a hole and I kind of scoot
under there. That's the only way I
can describe it. The spectators
describe it as a bowling ball hitting
While USC fans hail Ervins'
success, his efforts have not captured
national attention. Much of the press
surrounding the Trojans has gone to
red-shirt frosh quarterback Todd
Marinovich. Ervins feels that Marin-
ovich is worthy of this media blitz,
even if it takes from himself.
"Todd is a great kid," Ervins
said. "He knows what he is doing
and I'm glad he is getting the
attention. I guess that if I keep
producing like I am now, that my
moments in the limelight are yet to
come. Right now, I'm not even
worried about it."
His name may not be gracing the
front pages of the nation's sports
pages, but he is mentioned quite
prominently in the Michigan locker
"I thought a year ago that he was
an exceptional back," Michigan
coach Bo Schembechler said. "He's
got good speed and good moves, as
well as running very strong. He's
been an impressive back. They had
about three or four outstanding tail=
backs going into the season, but
he's the one that came to the frofit
and got the big yardage for them."
Michigan linebacker J.J. Grant
added: "From what I've seef,
(Ervins) is a very fine athlete. He's
quick, and he moves around very
well. He adds a dimension to them,
something like an Eric Metcalf,-a
quick back with a lot of moves. He
will cause a lot of problems for us."
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February 28, 1936: "Students shall pay all accounts due the University not later than
the last day of classes of each semester or summer session. Student loans which are
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subsequent semester or summer session until payment has been made."
USC running back Ricky Ervins has led the Trojans into their Rose Bowl
showdown with Michigan by rushing for 1,269 yards this season.
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