Name three things that stood out from the release of the season opening depth chart
- For only the 2nd time in school history the Trojans have named a true freshman QB to start the season opener so no matter how much it might have been expected it was still a big moment to see it happen.
- The corner spot is very interesting to me. Isaiah Langley was expected to take over for Jackie Jones but the fact that he is listed as a co-starter along with Greg Johnson says a lot about how far Greg has come after rehabbing from a shoulder injury last fall. And pay attention to the name Olaijah Griffin on the depth chart at that spot, he is a future big-time guy.
- It’s not too often a true freshman replaces an incumbent senior in any role but the fact that Amon-Ra St. Brown won the job over Ajene Harris speaks volumes about St. Brown and what he will bring to the table.
1. It certainly wasn’t the fact that J.T. Daniels was named the starter, it was the expectation. It was, however, the order of the rankings of the quarterbacks behind him. There was no “or” between the second and third quarterback – namely Matt Fink and Jack Sears, respectively. No argument here, although both Fink and Sears really did battle in training camp and improved greatly since spring ball.
2. I was not overly shocked that redshirt sophomore Velus Jones Jr. was named a starting wide receiver although I believe that true freshman Amon-Ra St. Brown deserved strong consider to be a starter based on training camp. If both Jones Jr. and St. Brown were seen as equals at the end of training camp, Jones Jr. deserved to be the starter based on longevity in the program – a redshirt sophomore over a true freshman.
3. I guess the fact that Amon-Ra St. Brown is listed atop the punt returners caught my attention, but I also think the fact that redshirt freshman Greg Johnson corner is listed as equal to senior Isaiah Langley. It was what most suspected that Johnson really made an impression in training camp.
- To Start Him, or Not to Start Him – After a standout Fall Camp that had many penciling him in as a starter at slot wide receiver, true frosh Amon Ra St. Brown was named the #2 Wide Receiver on the outside behind Michael Pittman. But this move has to be understood in the context of St. Brown’s preference for playing on the outside, as well as a strong camp performance from veteran Velus Jones who was named the #1 slot WR.
- Quarterback Decisions – The discussion over who would be named #1 Quarterback ended when J.T. Daniels was named the starter. But Matt Fink beating out Jack Sears for the #2 spot was an important development as it could have ramifications this season on the field, as well as affect decisions by at least one of the quarterbacks in the near future.
- The Return of the Punt Return – Amon Ra St. Brown was elevated to the #1 punt returner spot. St. Brown will be the first true freshman since Joe McKnight to get significant opportunities to make game changing plays in that important role.
- Like most folks, I was pretty shocked when I saw that there was no Ykili Ross on this depth chart. We all knew that Ross was taking some “personal time” to evaluate things over the course of this past weekend, but I don’t think anyone thought he’d pull the transfer-trigger this close to season’s start. Ross definitely entered this camp as a strong contender for that safety spot alongside Marvell Tell III. And after leaving last Wednesday’s practice in rough fashion, (openly feuding with teammates, departing from practice early) Ross made what felt like an abrupt departure from the program. We all wish Ross the very best, but one can only imagine where he’d be in USC’s plans right now had he not suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the majority of fall camp.
- Olaijah Griffin and Kana’i Mauga are a pair of freshmen on the defensive side of the ball that I am very excited about seeing in live game action. Both are listed as second-stringers at their respective positions. In prior seasons, I would have been hesitant to burn the redshirt for these freshmen, but thanks to the NCAA’s new redshirt policy (which allows freshmen to play four games without burning a year) I am hopeful to see them on the field occasionally this season. Mauga was impressive all camp. Griffin is coming off of his best week of practice work (reeled in several INTs last week).
- Amon-Ra St. Brown being listed as the lead punt returner for USC this season should have all Trojan fans rejoicing. I’m not saying he’ll be Adoree’ back there as a true freshman, but it’s undeniable that Brown should be an upgrade this season at that punt returner slot. And hey, don’t worry about St. Brown’s listing as a second-string wideout, he’s going to play very significant time throughout this entire season. Book it.