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Position Battle updates

Here’s an update on the various position battles that are going on during USC football spring ball.

#2 Quarterback

Matt Fink has shown some good progress and is solidly in the second spot right now. I still think there is plenty of time for Jack Sears to make a move before the season starts but at this point there isn’t any question that Fink would be the guy.

#2 Tailback

We simply haven’t seen a lot of Aca’Cedric Ware or Dominic Davis this spring due to injuries and that has opened the door for Vavae Malepeai to make an impression, which he has done. I think Ware gets right back in line at #2 when he comes back in fall but Vavae has shown he will be a legitimate challenger for reps.

Outside Receivers

With Deontay Burnett set in the slot right now, I would put Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns as the two outside guys based on what we’ve seen so far. Jalen Greene would be next in the rotation, and Josh Imatorbhebhe will be in there as well as he continues to return from his sickness early in spring. I would also put this group as one of the pleasant developments of spring.

Tight End

Even though Daniel Imatorbhebhe has been limited due to injury he is pretty established as the projected starter. Right now Tyler Petite is the #2 but I think Cary Angeline has shown a lot and I could see that battle continuing into fall camp.

Offensive Line

This is still the most fluid position group, and that was before the injury to Viane (who is expected back around fall camp). Talamaivao will be the starter at RG when he returns but I like that we will get an extended look at Andrew Vorhees while Viane is out. Vorhees has really impressed me so far. Chuma Edoga seems to have a solid hold on the left tackle spot and that’s not to be taken for granted. The center spot is being manned by Cole Smith at the moment but it figures to be either Toa Lobendahn or Nico Falah in the fall, and that’s where things get interesting. Let’s say it is Toa at center, then we would see Nico go to tackle (an idea that was discussed last week between Falah and the coaches). We’ve seen Roy Hemsley and Chris Brown get auditions at both of those spots this spring with one of them expected to fill the remaining open spot.

Nose Tackle

We’ve seen both Josh Fatu and Marlon Tuipulotu (photo above) going with the 1’s, and Tuipulotu got a lot of attention when the early enrollee held his own with the starters. There’s no question that Marlon has a ton of potential and could be the starter but Fatu offers a veteran option (not to mention the possibility of Kenny Bigelow in the fall) so I’m fine seeing where things play out here.

Will linebacker

It’s been John Houston as the starter since day 1 of spring and there don’t appear to be any signs of that changing. His back-up, Tayler Katoa, was lost for the season to a knee injury, and the coaches seem fine with having Jordan Iosefa as the back-up to Cameron Smith.


Iman Marshall is set as one starter, and Ajene Harris has been lining up with the 1’s as the nickel corner, with Jackie Jones getting the majority of reps with the starters opposite Biggie (we’ve also seen Isaiah Langley get some opportunities). Jamel Cook has made a lot of plays since being moved to the nickel spot, it’s simply a matter of the coaches getting comfortable with Jamel knowing the scheme.

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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