By Johnny Curren
Here’s a look at what a potential depth chart just might look like heading into USC’s spring game on Saturday based on what has been observed over the course of the last four-and-a-half weeks of practice.
*Note – Those who are currently out or limited due to injury are not included.
Max Browne (6-foot-5, 220 pounds, RS Jr.); Sam Darnold (6-4, 215, RS Fr.); Jalen Greene (6-1, 195, RS So.); Matt Fink (6-3, 180, Fr.)
In the most closely watched position battle of the spring, Sam Darnold has made a statement with his play over the course of the last two-and-a-half weeks, but Browne, who has impressed USC head coach Clay Helton with his poise and command of the offense, continues to take the vast majority of snaps with the No. 1 offense.
Justin Davis (6-1, 195, Sr.); Ronald Jones II (6-0. 185, So.); Aca’Cedric Ware (6-0, 200, So.); Dominic Davis (5-10, 175, So.); James Toland IV (5-11, 185, RS Jr.)
Reuben Peters (6-0, 225, RS So.)
Davis, the leader of the tailback corps, has been running with tremendous physicality throughout the spring. Jones, the most frequent No. 2 tailback up, has also performed solidly, showing flashes of his big-play ability. Peters made the move from linebacker to fullback at the beginning of the spring.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (6-2, 215, Jr.); De’Quan Hampton (6-4, 220, Sr.); Josh Imatorbhebhe (6-2, 210, Fr.)
Darreus Rogers (6-1, 215, Sr.); Isaac Whitney (6-3, 205, RS Sr.);
Steven Mitchell Jr. (5-10, 190, RS Jr.); Deontay Burnett (6-0, 170, So.) OR Ajene Harris (5-11, 185, RS Jr.)
Smith-Schuster, as expected, has performed at a high level, but what has really stood out is the way that the ball has been spread around. Rogers has played like the potential No. 2 receiver, while Hampton has emerged this spring after stringing together some strong outings. With unique size, he could add a different dimension to things.
Taylor McNamara (6-5, 245, RS Sr.); Tyler Petite (6-6, 235, So.); Daniel Imatorbhebhe (6-4, 225, RS Fr.)
After years of depth issues at the tight end position, the Trojans have a trio of talented contributors now in McNamara, Petite and Imatorbhebhe. All three players have been targeted with great frequency this spring – reflecting a change in philosophy compared to recent years at USC.
Chad Wheeler (6-7, 280, RS Sr.); Zach Banner (6-9, 360, RS Sr.); Roy Hemsley (6-5, 315, RS Fr.)
Damien Mama (6-4, 355, Jr.) OR Chris Brown (6-5, 295, RS So.); Jordan Austin (6-5, 280, RS So.)
Nico Falah (6-4, 285, RS Jr.); Cole Smith (6-4, 280, RS Fr.)
Viane Talamaivao (6-2, 320, Jr.) OR Jordan Simmons (6-4, 325, RS Sr.)
Zach Banner (6-9, 360, RS Sr.); Chuma Edoga (6-4, 280, So.); Nathan Smith (6-6, 265, Fr.)
The competition at the two guard positions has been an intriguing storyline that has emerged as Mama and Brown have split duties at left guard with the No. 1 unit, while Talamaivao and Simmons have taken equal reps at right guard. With Toa Lobendahn (knee) and Khaliel Rodgers (shoulder) sidelined, Falah has spent the entire spring at center with the first-team offense. Banner will occasionaly take some reps at left tackle, which brings Edoga in with the first group at Banner’s normal right tackle spot.
Noah Jefferson (6-6, 330, So.); Jacob Daniel (6-4, 325, So.); Liam Jimmons (6-5, 265, Fr.)
Rasheem Green (6-5, 285, So.); Christian Rector (6-5, 260, RS Fr.)
Malik Dorton (6-2, 275, RS So.); Kevin Scott (6-5, 315, RS Fr.)
This unit took a major hit early in the spring when Kenny Bigelow, who had been running with the No. 1 offense at defensive end ahead of Dorton, went down with a torn ACL. Green has been the star of the group, frequently making plays in the offensive backfield. Jefferson missed a large portion of spring drills due to a back injury, but he has been back in action for about a week now.
Uchenna Nwosu (6-3, 210, Jr.); Oluwole Betiku (6-3, 250, Fr.)
Porter Gustin (6-5, 260, So.); Jabari Ruffin (6-3, 245, RS Sr.)
Michael Hutchings (6-1, 225, Sr.); Olajuwon Tucker (6-3, 235, Jr.)
Quinton Powell (6-2, 201, Sr.); Osa Masina (6-4, 245, So.); John Houston Jr. (6-3, 220, RS Fr.)
Nwosu and Gustin have shined as both players appear to be perfect fits in Clancy Pendergast’s attacking defensive scheme. Hutchings has shown well while running at the MIKE spot in place of the injured Cameron Smith. Masina missed extensive time early in camp with a hamstring injury, but appears to be coming on now.
Iman Marshall (6-2, 200, So.); Yoofi Quansah (5-8, 165, RS Jr.) OR Kevin Carasco (6-0, 185, RS Jr.)
Isaiah Langley (6-0, 165, So.); Ajene Harris (5-11, 185, RS So.)
Marvell Tell III (6-2, 190, So.); C.J. Pollard (6-1, 185, Fr.)
Leon McQuay III (6-1, 190, Sr.); Matt Lopes (5-11, 185, RS Jr.); Deion Hart (6-0, 195, RS Sr.)
With Chris Hawkins (ankle), John Plattenburg (ankle), Ykili Ross (shoulder), Jonathan Lockett (concussion) and Adoree’ Jackson (track & field) missing most, if not all of the workouts this spring, this is a unit that has been noticeably low in numbers. Jackson’s absence has allowed Langley to step in and gain valuable reps with the No. 1 defense. Marshall, meanwhile, has had arguably the best spring of this entire group.
Matt Boermeester (6-0, 180, RS Jr.)
Chris Tilbey (6-5, 220, RS So.)
Boermeester has had somewhat of an up-and-down spring so far, but he did hit a 50-yard field goal in practice last week. Tilbey has looked solid in somewhat limited work.