LOS ANGELES — Two years ago, Ronald Jones ran for more yards than any previous USC freshman running back, displaying a knack for game-changing runs.
To Coach Clay Helton, Stephen Carr belongs in the same category.
“He’s got great vision,” Helton said. “He reminds me a little bit of RoJo in that I have no idea where he’s going.”
On Saturday, Carr, a freshman, kept all observers along the east sideline at Howard Jones Field guessing as to where he was headed next.
Carr rushed for two touchdowns during the Trojans’ 60-play scrimmage.
On one run, Carr took a handoff and darted left, before a quick cut to turn to his right. He carried the ball about 10 yards into the end zone.
“We call it a crossover move, like in basketball, where you chop your feet,” Helton said.
In front of a group of reporters after practice, Helton emphasized his change-of-direction, planting his own right in the ground before shifting his body to his left to mimic the cut.
“He truly puts one foot in the ground,” Helton said, “and is able to transition in another direction.”
Carr was one of the standout players in USC’s recruiting class last February. During his news conference on National Signing Day, Helton compared him to to NFL running back Ezekiel Elliot, who as a rookie for the Dallas Cowboys led the league in rushing. As a senior at Summit High in Fontana, he ran for 2,123 yards and 31 touchdowns, averaging almost 10 yards per carry.
Helton at the time described him as an all-around back. Carr carries size too. USC lists him at 6-feet and 210 pounds on its roster.
But his eye for green grass drew attention Saturday.
The scrimmage ended when Carr rushed for a second touchdown. He again cut across the field to score, this time starting right, before swiveling left. The run was also about 10 yards. It would have been his third touchdown, but an earlier score was negated following a holding penalty.
“Those special players, like a Ronald Jones at running back, like a Sam Darnold at quarterback, they see things that other don’t, and his ability to put one foot in the ground, change direction with what he sees, he makes full-speed decisions,” Helton said. “You’re looking at a 200-pound man who is extremely explosive.”
It was the first practice of training camp, which began July 29, where Helton believed the offense outplayed the defense.
Carr is vying to grab most of the carries as the Trojans’ backup running back.
Jones is now a junior and…