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Helton releases depth chart for Western Michigan game

QB: Sam Darnold, Matt Fink, Jack Sears

No surprises here.

RB: Ronald Jones, Aca’Cedric Ware OR Vavae Malepeai OR Stephen Carr, James Toland

Carr may be listed as #4 on the depth chart here but that is a lot of deference to the two veterans ahead of him (both very good in their own right).

FB: Reuben Peters

If the Trojans are going to use a fullback, Peters is the guy

WR: Jalen Greene, Tyler Vaughns OR Josh Imatorbhebhe OR Randal Grimes

There’s a lot of talent in this rotation. I continue to think that Tyler Vaughns earned a right to start with his performance but I also don’t think it’s a huge deal since the Trojans rotate so much at receiver. Tyler will end up getting his share of catches. Jalen is a dependable option and kudos to him for earning a starting spot in his first full year of training for receiver the whole off-season.

WR: Deontay Burnett, Velus Jones OR Trevon Sidney OR Pie Young

Burnett has been working on the outside a lot but is being listed here in the slot. Wherever you list him, Deontay is the man at receiver heading into the season. It will be interesting to see how much of an impact Velus Jones can have with his speed.

WR: Steven Mitchell, Michael Pittman OR Joseph Lewis

Nice job Mitchell to shake the rust off after a knee injury and finish camp strong enough to get a starting nod. Pittman is out for the foreseeable future with a high ankle sprain.

TE: Tyler Petite, Daniel Imatorbhebhe, Cary Angeline OR Josh Falo OR Erik Krommenhoek

This rotation is impacted by the fact that projected starter Daniel has not been able to practice much due to a hip flexor, and this practice week will determine if he even plays this game.

LT: Toa Lobendahn, Austin Jackson

Toa was expected to be at left tackle if healthy, and that’s how things have turned out. Austin Jackson played well enough to see Clayton Johnston, who was also playing well, get moved to right tackle.

LG: Chris Brown, Roy Hemsley, Jacob Daniel, Alijah Vera-Tucker

This is the opportunity Chris Brown has been waiting for, and there are many who look at him as the key to the performance of the offensive line.

C: Nico Falah, Cole Smith, Brett Neilon

Nico is a fixture at center right now, and Toa can also move if needed. Good depth for the future.

RG: Viane Talamaivao, Jordan Austin OR Andrew Vorhees, Frank Martin

Viane is the established veteran, and I’m paying attention to the move of Vorhees in recent days as the potential key reserve.

RT: Chuma Edoga, Clayton Johnston OR Andrew Vorhees, Jalen McKenzie, Nathan Smith

Another spot with good depth for the future.

OLB: Uchenna Nwosu, Oluwole Betiku, Juliano Falaniko

No surprises here.

DE: Rasheem Green, Christian Rector, Jay Tufele

A position of good strength.

NT: Josh Fatu, Kenny Bigelow OR Marlon Tuipulotu OR Brandon Pili

A position of even better strength, especially if Bigelow can stay healthy and give any kind of consistent production to finish his career the right way.

DE: Malik Dorton, Liam Jimmons, Jacob Lichtenstein

This is primarily a part-time role, as this DE spot comes off the field in nickel situations. Dorton has worked his way into being a solid option here.

OLB: Porter Gustin, Connor Murphy, Hunter Echols

No surprises here either. Echols will miss time in the early part of the season due to medical issues.

ILB: Cameron Smith, Jordan Iosefa, Olajuwon Tucker, Grant Moore

Smith will miss the first half of this game and it will be Iosefa in the starting line-up. Jordan played well this fall, he’s not Cam, but he should be more than enough to hold things down for a half against the Broncos.

ILB: John Houston, Levi Jones

Two athletic guys. There are a lot of people looking at Houston as a key to the SC linebacker play as the one new starter.

CB: Iman Marshall, Jamel Cook, Jay Godfrey OR Greg Johnson

Marshall enters his 3rd year as a starter and don’t be surprised to see Cook get some extended work.

CB: Jackie Jones, Isaiah Langley, Dominic Davis

Jackie is the most talented option to throw out there in Adoree’s old role, and teams will make it a point to test him early. Langley had a good veteran camp.

NK: Ajene Harris, Ykili Ross

No surprises. Ykili has played well since being move to the nickel spot.

SS: Chris Hawkins, C.J. Pollard OR Bubba Bolden

Good group. Hawkins had the recent honor of being named a captain, and Pollard brings a similar mental approach to the game. Bolden makes plays, plain and simple.

FS: Marvell Tell, Matt Lopes

Tell forms a very good safety duo with Hawkins. The season-long loss of Pola-Mao impacts depth here.

PK: Michael Brown OR Chase McGrath

That’s the biggest OR on this chart, and we probably won’t know which one is the guy until they get the opportunity in a game.

P: Chris Tilbey OR Reid Budrovich

Budrovich has made this closer than expected with a good incumbent.

KR: Ajene Harris OR Jack Jones OR Stephen Carr OR Velus Jones
PR: Ajene Harris OR Deontay Burnett OR Jack Jones
SN: Damon Johnson, Wyatt Schmidt, Jake Olson
HLD: Wyatt Schmidt, Sam Darnold, Reid Budrovich

Garry Paskwietz

A 1988 graduate of USC with a degree in Sports Information. Worked in sports marketing for LA Lakers and Miller Brewing Company. Began covering the Trojans in 1996 with the Trojan Football Fax. Founded WeAreSC in November 1998 with stints at Scout and ESPN. Emmy-winner while covering high school football at Fox Sports West.

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