Martin Coleman, the big unknown

USC has 13 seniors on scholarship.

Ten of them have started at least one game as a Trojan. Two of other three -- T.J. Bryant and Ross Cumming -- have played meaningful snaps at some point in their college careers. And then there's Martin Coleman, the 6-5, 335-pound offensive lineman who was as much of an afterthought as they get at USC.

Except now it's Week 2 of the 2011 season and Coleman looks like he'll get the start at left guard in place of the injured Abe Markowitz and ineffective Jeremy Galten. It's been a long road for the 24-year-old Coleman, who actually enrolled at USC a semester early in January 2007 and is now in his 10th semester at the school.

And, in an interesting twist, it's not as if Coleman has done a particularly good job this week in practice or this camp in general. It's more of an availability deal, where he's (1) healthy, (2) knows the offense and (3) would presumably be able to handle himself in a game without imploding, even though he's never played more than a few snaps. The coaches aren't praising him like you'd normally hear about a player unseating another. They're simply saying he's doing OK, which very might be enough for the Trojans' offensive line.

"He's done alright," head coach Lane Kiffin said Thursday. "He's kinda plugged away in there. Martin's someone who's been here for five years and really hasn't played, so hopefully if he gets a chance he'll play well."

Coleman spent some time as the No. 1 left guard during camp but didn't win the job outright. He went into the season opener as the backup at that spot behind Galten and didn't play at all, then took over as the No. 1 guy again on Tuesday. He took all the snaps there in practice this week.

"Right now I'm just taking my opportunities," Coleman said Thursday. "[This week] went great.

"My first starting position, if that's the deal -- I'll be blessed. I'll give it 100% and try to make the coaches proud."