We’re doing position-by-position previews in the two weeks leading up to spring practice, breaking down the depth chart for one position group each day, paying special attention to potential things that can change in the spring.
We’ve looked at the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers so far. Today, we analyze the tight ends.
Quick: Who started more games at tight end for the USC Trojans last season, Randall Telfer or Xavier Grimble?
Most would say Telfer because of the way he came on strong at the end of the year and finished with five touchdowns and 26 total receptions. But Grimble actually officially started seven of USC's 12 games in 2011, including most of the first half of the season. He's a better blocker than Telfer -- so, while his speed and hands might be a touch worse, he does have that going for him.
USC's tight ends, in general, have plenty going for them. The question with the unit isn't at all if someone will step up and fill a role -- it's, will there be enough roles for capable players to fill?
Behind Telfer and Grimble, the 1a and 1b of the USC tight end corps, are redshirt sophomore Christian Thomas and redshirt freshman Junior Pomee, both intriguing prospects themselves. Pomee, in particular, is about as enticing a player as you get, a 6-3, 235-pounder with the speed of a receiver and the size of a tight end.
Thomas has had recent injury issues of late was deemed ready enough as a tight end to play over both Grimble and Telfer as a first-year freshman in 2010.
The four will likely be coached by grad assistant Justin Mesa in 2012 and will certainly be without Rhett Ellison for the first time since the 2006 season. But there is new talent enrolling in Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, although he won't be at USC until the fall. So the spring will be about determining who the third tight end is and how much he will be used.
Especially with uncertainty at fullback for the fall, it wouldn't be too surprising if the Trojans took a page out of rival Stanford's playbook and resorted to a lot of two-tight-end sets. If that's the case, then Thomas and Pomee suddenly become very valuable as passing-game threats and injury insurance.
This one's a good one to watch.
Check back Monday for the offensive linemen.