Football offseason recap

first_imgKatie Chin | Daily TrojanThe USC football team has very high expectations for the upcoming season, as evidenced by its No. 4 ranking in the coaches poll. Everyone knows the program is one of the best in the country, but here’s what you might have missed over summer break:RecruitingThe Trojans’ 2018 recruiting class is currently ranked 18th by 247sports.com. It’s headlined by linebacker Palaie Gaoteote, the lone five-star commit USC currently has in its 2018 class.The Trojans were stung by the loss of prospect Matt Corral, a five-star quarterback in the class of 2018. Corral decommitted from USC in late June and is currently committed to the University of Florida.The pain of losing Corral was replaced with joy when the University landed J.T. Daniels — 247Sports’ top-ranked quarterback in the class of 2019 — in July. The junior quarterback from Mater Dei High School chose the Trojans over other top-flight programs Alabama and Michigan, as well as rival Stanford.Head coach Clay Helton also secured a commitment from 247Sports’ top-ranked 2018 center, four-star recruit Justin Dedich, in June.Key LossesThe Trojans will have to replace 11 starters from last year’s squad, including five players taken in the NFL Draft. The most significant loss is that of cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, who, in addition to setting a school record for career kick return touchdowns with eight, won the 2016 Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back and was a productive receiver in his time on campus. Jackson was drafted 18th overall by the Tennessee Titans and has already flashed his incredible athletic ability as a returner. He is working to make his way into the starting lineup at cornerback.Quarterback Sam Darnold loses top wide receivers Juju Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers, who were reliable targets last season. Smith-Schuster was drafted 62nd overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers, who add to their abundance of talented receivers. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the rookie has sustained a number of injuries at camp, the most recent being an apparent knee injury earlier this week. Rogers signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent.In addition, USC will have to replace three starters on the offensive line, including right tackle Zach Banner. Banner was drafted in the fourth round by the Indianapolis Colts, and is currently a back-up on their line.Kicker Matt Boermeester, who kicked the game-winning field goal in the Rose Bowl, was dismissed from the University in July for a student code of conduct violation. Michael Brown and walk-on Chase McGrath are in a fierce battle for the starting spot. The position has been a cause for concern as fall camp has progressed, and Helton has said that the competition could continue into the regular season.Watch ListsUSC has players on just about every pre-season award watch list. Darnold is being tracked as a Maxwell and O’Brien award candidate, which are awarded to the best player and best quarterback, respectively. Darnold is also a preseason pick for the Heisman Award.Defensive back Iman Marshall will try to follow in Jackson’s footsteps as a Thorpe Award winner. He will also be a contender for the Bednarik and Nagurski Awards for best defender.Porter Gustin is on the watch lists for the Bednarik Award, as well as the Butkus Award for best linebacker. Ronald Jones is a possible recipient of the Doak Walker Award for best running back, while Helton is a preseason contender for the Dodd Trophy for best coach.Other NotesFreshman linebacker Tayler Katoa will miss the season after tearing a knee ligament during spring practices. According to ESPN, Katoa’s injury required surgery and will keep him sidelined for a total of nine months.Over the offseason, offensive coordinator Tee Martin designed an app that quizzes players on team concepts such as formations and receiving routes. A Los Angeles Times article detailed how coaches can check how long players are on the app, as well as their results. The app was created as part of a program-wide effort to reduce mental mistakes. If the system is successful, the Trojans should improve on a season in which they ranked 113th in the nation in penalties per game and 114th in penalty yardage.last_img

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