LOS ANGELES – There was a familiar face at Howard Jones Field on Wednesday. Wearing a white No. 39 USC practice uniform, there was Simione Vehikite.
The 5-11, 225-pound redshirt junior linebacker has rejoined the team, the school announced Thursday. Vehikite missed all of spring practice dealing with legal issues.
His involvement in a July 2011 accident led to his arrest in February. Vehikite was charged with four felony counts — leaving the scene of a car accident, driving with a .08 percent blood-alcohol level and causing injury, driving under the influence causing injury, and identity theft, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Vehikite pleaded no contest to two of the counts as part of a plea offer and in May was sentenced to one year in jail. He served just over three months before he was released earlier in August.
Once USC found out about the incident, Vehikite was removed from all team activities.
“Simi is back with our team,” said coach Lane Kiffin. “Simi has done everything fulfilling his obligations to the team to get back. (He’s) been through a lot (and) has fulfilled all of his legal obligations as well.”
Kiffin says last semester, Vehikite passed 20 units and is close to graduating.
Vehikite isn’t expected to play in Saturday’s opener against Hawaii on FOX.
If Vehikite does find the field, Kiffin says he “wouldn’t have a very big role” but would “be ready to go” if called upon.
Last season Vehikite appeared in all 12 games and made six tackles while workingas a reserve linebacker, fullback, and on special teams.
Kiffin says Vehikite’s scholarship is “still intact.” It appears this puts the Trojans at the 75-NCAA imposed scholarship limit and still without wide receiver Darreus Rogers.
When asked if the Trojans would still have room for Rogers if he became eligible, Kiffin responded, “We don’t get into specifics and numbers and planning but Darreus is not cleared to go anyway.”
USC had to be at the 75 scholarship limit by the time school started on Monday. Rogers would have to be cleared by Sept. 14 in order to attend USC this semester. However, it appears there may not be a scholarship waiting for him.