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July 9, 2010ESPN is reporting that USC junior fullback D.J. Shoemate is transferring to UConn in order to get the chance to be a running back.
He will be the fourth USC backup player, and third junior, to transfer since the NCAA announced sanctions June 10 permitting juniors and seniors to transfer immediately without penalty.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder from Corona and Servite High, a former Super Prep All-American, played in 12 games as a sophomore as a backup fullback and special teams player. He carried the ball two times for two yards with two catches for 23 with four tackles and one touchdown.
Shoemate told ESPN that the chance to play running back was the major factor in his decision and he felt that USC's depth and talent at running back made that a longshot for him if he stayed.
He would have competed for the starting fullback spot next season after the departure of veteran senior starter Stanley Havili.
"I have much love for USC," Shoemate told ESPN's Smith. "The school is great, the fans are phenomenal and I'll be a Trojan for life. This was a business decision. When the sanctions came, the opportunity came to go. Playing running back is what my passion is and at UConn I will have an opportunity to play right away and hopefully contribute to an up-and-coming program."
With Shoemate out almost the entire spring with a hamstring injury, 235-pound walk-on redshirt freshman Hunter Simmons from Loyola High, played the backup fullback spot. He would be expected to remain in that position.
USC has one freshman fullback recruit, 6-2, 255-pound Soma Vainuku, who has yet to arrive on campus from Eureka, to play the position.
Just three weeks ago, Shoemate told USCFootball.com that he was solid with the program and it was business as usual despite all of the controversy surrounding the NCAA sanctions.
"Nothing can break us," he said. "The only thing that can break us is ourselves and we know that. We are just taking this as an opportunity to get better and live up to the expectations of our fans, family members and each other.
"I think it will allow us to grow a little bit closer together. At the moment we can't control anything and we understand that, so we are going to go out here and let our play talk for itself."
Despite the final NCAA report being released, there are still a lot more questions than answers floating around. Unfortunately, no one is really sure where or when the answers will be coming.
"The coaches are not saying much at all, very little if anything," Shoemate said. "They just pretty much have been telling us what is going on but keeping it as brief as possible."
Being a junior, Shoemate was in the difficult position that if the two-year bowl ban sticks, he would be left out of the college football post season for the rest of his college career.
To compensate for that, the NCAA declared that juniors and seniors are eligible to transfer to another program without the usual one year loss of eligibility.
At the time, Shoemate said he wouldn't be taking advantage of that opportunity.
"I don't really think that a bowl game would change the way I think about this place," he said. "I don't really think about leaving, it is only another game a year.
"These are my guys and we are going to come out here day by day and I am going to give my all.
"There are a lot of guys nationwide that would love this opportunity, but there are only a handful of them that would really take it and leave what they love. "