Hershel Dennis
    Hershel  Dennis

    RS Senior

    Long Beach, CA

    High School:
    Poly HS

    Height / Weight:
    5-11 / 200




    CAREER: He has 1,057 career rushing yards.

    2007: Dennis, a quick, darting runner who missed the past 2 seasons with injuries after starting at tailback in 2003, served as a backup tailback and played on special teams as a sixth-year senior in 2007. Overall in 2007 while appearing in 11 games (he missed the Idaho and Nebraska games after spraining his knee in 2007 fall camp), he ran for 89 yards on 23 carries (3.9 avg.) with a TD, caught 2 passes for 5 yards (2.5 avg.) and returned a kickoff 11 yards. He gained 14 yards on 4 carries against Washington State, had 34 yards on 7 rushes against Stanford, caught a 3-yard pass against Arizona, added 9 yards on 2 carries at Notre Dame, ran for 2 yards on 2 tries and had a 2-yard reception against Oregon State and carried the ball twice (for no yards) and had an 11-yard return of a short kickoff against UCLA. He gained 30 yards on 6 carries against Illinois, with a 3-yard TD. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee following 2007 spring practice.

    2006: Dennis appeared ready to re-assume his starting role as a senior in 2006, but he re-tore ligaments in his left knee midway through 2006 spring practice. He missed the 2006 season after having surgery and petitioned for a sixth year of eligibility in 2007.

    2005: Dennis redshirted his 2005 senior season while recuperating for torn knee ligament sugery performed in January of 2005 (he was sidelined for 2005 spring practice).

    2004: Dennis was a reserve as a junior in 2004. He also played on special teams. Overall in 2004 while appearing in 9 games (all but Virginia Tech, Colorado State, California and Oklahoma), he ran for 109 yards on 28 carries (3.9 avg.) with a TD and made a tackle. He had 18 yards on 3 carries at BYU, 19 yards on 5 tries versus Arizona State, 12 yards on 4 carries versus Washington and 55 yards on 11 rushes at Washington State. He had a 1-yard TD run against Arizona. He sat out USC's first 2 games while suspended for a team rule violation. He tore ligaments in his left knee in practice prior to the Orange Bowl, ending his 2004 season.

    2003: Dennis started all of his 2003 sophomore season at tailback. Overall in 2003 while starting all 13 games, he rushed for 661 yards on 137 carries (4.8 avg.) with 4 TDs, plus caught 10 passes for 62 yards (6.2 avg.) with 1 TD. In his first career start, he ran for a career-best 85 yards on 21 carries at Auburn, including a second-effort 14-yard TD. He ran for 40 yards on 16 carries, with an 11-yard TD, against BYU, then had for 54 yards on 9 attempts and caught 2 passes for 5 yards against Hawaii. He rushed for 53 yards on 14 carries at California (he also caught 2 passes for 7 yards), then added 19 yards on 4 carries (he also caught a 12-yard pass) at Arizona State and 80 yards on 10 tries against Stanford. At Notre Dame, he had 38 yards on 10 tries (with a 2-yard TD) and caught 2 passes for 23 yards (with a 3-yard score), then had a game-high 98 rushing yards on 14 carries (he also had a 10-yard catch) at Washington and 53 yards on 7 tries (with a 24-yard TD) versus Washington State. He had 52 yards on 10 rushes at Arizona, then a game-best 69 yards on 12 carries against UCLA, followed by 5 yards each on 3 carries and 2 receptions versus Oregon State. He added 17 yards on 7 carries against Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

    2002: Dennis exhibited his outstanding future during his action as a reserve tailback and on special teams as a freshman in 2002, his first year at USC. Overall in 2002 while appearing in all 13 games, he ran for 198 yards on 49 carries (4.0 avg.) with 1 TD, caught 4 passes for 23 yards (5.8 avg.), returned 9 kickoffs for 151 yards (16.8 avg.) and had a tackle for a loss of 34 yards (on a punt at UCLA). He got his first carries at Colorado, where he ran for 32 yards on 5 tries and caught a 4-yard pass. He then gained 9 yards on 3 carries and returned a kickoff 10 yards at Kansas State. He ran for 3 yards on 4 tries and returned a kickoff 21 yards against Oregon State, returned 3 kickoffs for 40 yards against California, rushed for 7 yards on 2 carries against Washington and gained 19 yards on 10 carries (he also caught a 2-yard pass) at Oregon. He had 21 yards on 6 carries at Stanford, 23 yards on 5 rushes versus Arizona State. At UCLA, he ran for a game-best 57 yards on 8 carries, with a 38-yard TD on a fourth-down play. He had 19 yards on 3 carries and returned a kickoff 15 yards versus Notre Dame. Against Iowa in the Orange Bowl, he ran twice for 8 yards.

    HIGH SCHOOL: His 2001 honors included Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American, Tom Lemming All-American, Student Sports All-American second team, Super Prep Elite 50, Prep Star Dream Team, Super Prep All-Far West, Prep Star All-Western Region, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first team, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, Orange County Register Fab 15 first team, Las Vegas Sun Super 11 first team, Student Sports All-West first team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State first team, All-CIF Southern Section first team, All-CIF Division I first team Co-Offensive MVP, Los Angeles Times Glenn Davis Award (as the top Southern California prep football player), Los Angeles Times All-Southern California first team, Los Angeles Times All-Southeast/South Coast first team MVP and Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team Offensive MVP as a senior running back at Poly High in Long Beach (Calif.). He ran for 1,740 yards on 221 carries (7.9 avg.) with 24 touchdowns, averaging 134 yards a game, in 2001, even though he was pulled out of most games in the third quarter because Poly had large leads. He had some of his best performances in Poly's biggest games: getting 161 yards on 20 carries versus national champion De La Salle High and then 189 yards and 3 scores on 29 carries against Edison High in the CIF Division I final.

    As a junior in 2000, he made Cal-Hi Sports All-State Underclass first team, All-CIF Southern Section first team Co-Offensive MVP, All-CIF Division I first team Co-Offensive MVP, Los Angeles Times All-Southeast/South Coast first team and Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team first team Offensive MVP. He set school and Moore League records for rushing yards (2,106) and rushing touchdowns (32) in 2000 while carrying 209 times (10.1 avg.). In one game as a junior, he had 41 carries for 237 yards and 5 TDs. He scored the winning touchdown on an 11-yard catch in overtime in the 2000 CIF Division I championship game against Loyola High.

    He made the All-CIF Division I first team, Los Angeles Times All-Southeast/South Coast first team and Long Beach Press-Telegram Dream Team first team as a sophomore in 1999 while running for 1,400-plus yards.

    He set school career records for rushing yards (5,440) and rushing touchdowns (82). He returned 7 kicks for scores in his career. He was a 3-year starter as Poly went 39-1-1 and won 3 CIF Division I titles.

    He also was on Poly's track team, with bests of 10.7 in the 100 meters, 22.3 in the 200 meters, 22-plus in the long jump and 6-6 in the high jump, and basketball team. Current Trojans Vincent Joseph, Travon Patterson and Alfred Rowe also prepped at Poly.

    PERSONAL: He's a sociology major at USC. His father, Hershel Sr., played tailback at North Carolina A&T. His nickname is "Patch."


  • The adversity he has faced: "Things don't always turn out the way you plan them. It was difficult. I have to believe things will work out for me. I believe God has good things planned for me. There's something nice out there for me in the future...The final chapter of my USC story hasn't been written yet. My day still will come."
  • His knee injury late in the 2004 season: "You just never think something like that can happen to you. It happens to other people, but not to you. I thought I had a lucky shield around me. And when it does happen, you're momentarily shattered. I remember lying in the hospital after the operation and feeling a little down. And then I started thinking to myself, 'I'm going to turn this into a positive.' And I think I did. Staying out the 2005 season was a good thing for me. It made me grow up and become a more mature person."
  • Serving as a reserve in 2004: "I did what I could to help the team. I didn't brook about the lack of playing time. That's not my nature. I just kept working hard and rooting for my teammates to do well."
  • Working with the scout team offense at times during 2002: "I used to talk to (former USC tailback) Justin Fargas and tell him, 'Man, I want to be over there with you No. 1 guys.' He told me, 'Everybody's got to pay their dues. Just go over there (to the scout team) because you can run free.' You have to have a certain style when you're working with the No. 1 offense. But on the scout team, you can work on your moves. You're going against the best defense, so it's not doing anything but making you better. They just tell you where to run and you can make it happen however it happens...It was great playing behind Justin Fargas, Malaefou MacKenzie and Sultan McCullough as a freshman. There was a lot to learn from watching those guys throughout the season and growing from it. They really helped me be where I am now. I am a lot more prepared because I had those three guide me through things that I did not understand, both on and off the field. I learned how at this level the holes aren't necessarily going to be there for you, so you need to get through them fast. Justin Fargas disappeared into hidden holes real fast and hard. I watched him run with that attitude and he could set the tempo that when he touched the ball, you knew something special was going to happen. He was always so fired up when he was running the ball that it made me want to go run with him."


  • USC head coach Pete Carroll: "It's really exciting to see him out there again. You can just see his instincts and his confidence and his sense for things."

    PERSONAL: He's a sociology major at USC. His father, Hershel Sr., played tailback at North Carolina A&T.

    2002 (Fr.)491984.01384235.8015
    2003 (So.)1376614.843410626.2120
    2004 (Jr.)281093.9113000.000
    2007 (Sr.)...23893.9119252.503

    2002 (Fr.)915116.802911/3400
    2004 (Jr.)000.00010/000
    2007 (Sr.)...11111.001100/000


    Wash. St. Stanford Arizona Notre Dame Oregon St. UCLA Illinois (RB) 2007 (Sr.)...

    4 143.507000.0 00
    7 344.90 19 000.00 0
    000.0 0 0133.0 0 3
    2 9 4.5 0 500 0.000
    2 2 1.0 0 1122.002
    20 0.0 0 3000.000
    6 30 5.0115000.0 00
    23 89 3.9119252.5 0 3
    Arizona St.5193.806
    Wash. St.11555.0013
    Notre Dame1-1-1.00-1
    2004 (Jr.)281093.9113

    Arizona State*4194.80711212.0012
    Notre Dame*10383.811222311.5120
    Wash. State*7542.116000.000
    Oregon State*351.703252.504
    Mich. (Rose)*7172.408000.000
    2003 (So.)1376614.843410626.2120
    Kansas State392.008000.000
    Oregon State430.804000.000
    Arizona State5234.607000.000
    Notre Dame3196.309000.000
    Iowa (Orange)284.006000.000
    2002 (Fr.)491984.01384235.8015

    Kansas State11010.0010
    Oregon State12121.0021
    Wash. State24522.5029
    Notre Dame11515.0015
    2002 (Fr.)915116.8029