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News and notes from USC’s updated 2020 media guide

As the 2020 football season continues to come into view for the Trojans and the Pac-12, USC released its 2020 football media guide on Wednesday morning, complete with all the news and notes regarding this edition of the Trojans.

Returning Players

The Trojans return 90 squadmen from the 2019 roster, which is the most since the 1993 season, when USC returned 92. Twenty three of those players did not participate last season, including a number of walk-ons and those who used redshirt seasons.

The 2020 roster features 21 seniors, 24 juniors, 31 sophomores and 38 freshmen.

This 2020 roster features 114 players and 41 of those have started at least one game during their careers.

USC lists eight returning starters on offense:

QB Kedon Slovis, RB Vavae Malepeai, OLs Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jalen McKenzie, Brett Neilon, TE Erik Krommenhoek and WRs Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyler Vaughns and Drake London. (Nine are listed because USC considers London and Krommenhoek as sharing starts)

USC also lists eight returning starters on defense:

LBs Drake Jackson, Palaie Gaoteote, Kana’i Mauga, DL Marlon Tuipulotu, CBs Olaijah Griffin, Isaac Taylor-Staurt and Chris Steele, and Safeties Talanoa Hufanga, Isaiah Pola-Mao and Greg Johnson. (Gaoteote and Mauga, Taylor-Stuart and Steele are listed as having shared starts).

USC returns

Departing Players

There were no surprise departures, as the squadmen lost include last year’s seniors and players who have publicly declared they would transfer or leave early. Offensive linemen Austin Jackson, Drew Richmond Jacob Daniel and Clayten Bradley, tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe, wide receivers Michael Pittman and Velus Jones and quarterback JT Daniels are the big names offensively. On defense, USC will be without linebacker John Houston Jr., safety C.J. Pollard and defensive linemen Christian Rector and Jay Tufele.

Incoming Players

USC will gain 24 new players for the 2020 season, including 12 scholarship freshmen and 12 total walk-ons.

The freshmen scholarship players include the four who enrolled in the spring–wide receivers Gary Bryant Jr. and Joshua Jackson Jr., defensive lineman Kobe Pepe and kicker Parker Lewis–as well as offensive linemen Casey Collier, Andres Dewerk, Courtland Ford, Andrew Milek, Jonah Monheim and Caadyn Stephen, and defensive linemen Jamar Sekona and Tuli Tuipulotu.

They are joined by incoming transfers in offensive tackle Joe Bryson (Colorado Mesa), quarterback Mo Hasan (Vanderbilt), running back Samuel Oram-Jones (Vanderbilt), safety Micah Croom (Dartmouth) and long snapper Nathan Weneta (Purdue). And USC will also add several walk-on freshmen as part of the 2020 class, including tailback Matt Colombo (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), wide receivers Danny Ryan (San Francisco/St. Ignatius) and Ty Shamblin (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), quarterback Isaac Ward (Athens, Ga./Clarke Central), linebacker Danny Lockhart Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), safety Tommy Maurice (Brookfield, Wis./Brookfield Central) and punter Michael McAllister (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon).

Re-Incoming Player

USC also added a familiar face to the 2020 roster, as linebacker Tayler Katoa is back on the team after taking a two-year mission. He made a quick early impression in the spring of 2017 after he enrolled early, but he tore a ligament in his knee shortly thereafter and was sidelined for the season.

He comes back to USC now as a redshirt sophomore, listed at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, and looking to get into what should be a heated competition at inside linebacker. He’ll wear No. 54.

New Number

The 2020 spring roster featured a lot of jersey changes, but this fall edition has just one. Defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu is now wearing No. 93, having changed from the No. 51 that he’s worn throughout his USC career.

Interestingly, no USC player decided to take advantage of the recent NCAA ruling allowing players to wear No. 0.

USC fans will still need to be plenty attentive though, as the Trojans will feature doubled numbers on all non-retired jersey numbers from No. 1 through No. 13.

Incoming Numbers

One of the things head coach Clay Helton and offensive line coach Tim Drevno said they liked about this incoming offensive line class was the size of them. It certainly is an impressive group when it comes to height and weight.

This is the first opportunity to see the listed measurements and jersey numbers of the fall newcomers, and we’ll run down all the important numbers for the 2020 newcomers.

No. 1 – WR Gary Bryant Jr. (FR) – 5-11, 170

No. 10 – QB Mo Hasan (RS-SR) – 6-3, 205

No. 13 – QB Isaac Ward (FR) – 6-0, 175

No. 17 – S Micah Croom (RS-SR) – 6-1, 210

No. 26 – Samuel Oram-Jones (RS-SR) – 5-8, 200

No. 34 – RB Matt Colombo (FR) – 5-11, 185

No. 35 – P Michael McAllister (FR) – 6-2, 230

No. 37 – S Tommy Maurice (FR) – 5-9, 190

No. 40 – WR Ty Shamblin (FR) – 6-0, 185

No. 42 – WR Danny Ryan (FR) – 6-2, 175

No. 48 – K Parker Lewis (FR) – 6-3, 205

No. 53 – LS Nathan Weneta (RS-FR) – 6-2, 215

No. 56 – OL Andres Dewerk (FR) – 6-7, 295

No. 57 – ILB Danny Lockhart Jr. (FR) – 6-0, 220

No. 61 – OL Joe Bryson – (JR) – 6-8, 295

No. 69 – OL Casey Collier (FR) – 6-7, 290

No. 73 – OL Caadyn Stephen (FR) – 6-5, 285

No. 74 – OL Courtland Ford (FR) – 6-5, 305

No. 77 – DL Jamar Sekona (FR) – 6-2, 300

No. 78 – OL Andrew Milek (FR) – 6-5, 290

No. 79 – OL Jonah Monheim (FR) – 6-5, 290

No. 94 – DL Kobe Pepe (FR) – 6-1, 300

Position Changes

There are a few position changes on the roster, and they are all on the defensive side, as new defensive coordinator Todd Orlando shifts things to his system.

Former nickelbacks Max Williams and Greg Johnson are now listed as safeties on the roster. Chase Williams has also split between nickel and safety and he’s listed as a safety now as well.

Linebacker Eli’jah Winston has worked at both inside and outside linebacker. He’s listed at inside.

Redshirt freshman Maninoa Tufono, who played linebacker last season, is now listed as a defensive lineman, and at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds. This looks to be a similar move to what happened with Stanley Ta’ufo’ou, who played linebacker in high school but was quickly moved to the defensive line at USC. He’s bulked up to 6-foot-3, 280 pounds already. The move wasn’t quite as fast for Tufono, but with so many bodies at inside linebacker, this move makes sense if Tufono can handle it.

Drake Jackson is now listed as an outside linebacker, rather than a hybrid OLB/DE. Of course he could still see some time at defensive end, but this, combined with him playing the B-backer role during the first day of spring ball, is a pretty clear indication of where Orlando sees him settling in this season.

Support Staff Additions

USC’s support staff page is now massive compared to what it has been in the past. The Trojans now have 10 quality control analysis (Chris Claiborne and Hayes Pullard) were the big-name offseason hired. Michael Hutchings will continue at USC as he moved into a Quality Control role after spend the past two seasons as a defensive graduate assistant.

Brett Arce and Shawn Howe are still on the defensive side. Seth Doege and Lenny Vandermade return on the offensive side, joined by Claiborne and Dave Stevens, who, like Hutchings, is moving to an analyst role after serving as a graduate assistant.

Off the field, USC’s big support staff hires from earlier this year include Associate Director of Football Operations Jon Blake, Director of Football Graphic Design Alex Verdugo, and the dynamic duo video team of Jacob Brown and Will Stout.

USC has three graduate assistants listed. Viane Talamaivao returns as a big help for the offensive line. This will be his second season as a grad assistant. He’s joined on offense by Stanton Keane, who joined the USC staff this past February. Keane was fullback at Texas Tech in 2014-15 and was an offensive graduate assistant there in 2018.

Defensively, the Trojans have added Aaron Williams as a graduate assistant. He played safety at Nebraska from 2015-18 and overlapped with USC cornerbacks coach Donte Williams when he coached cornerbacks for the Cornhukers during the 2017 season.

Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

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