The Trojans are set to kick off their bowl game practices this Friday, and as USC head coach Steve Sarkisian pointed out on his Sunday night media call, a big emphasis during the early portion of those workouts will be placed on the development of the team's younger players with an eye toward the future.
With that in mind, here are five intriguing freshmen to watch during those upcoming practice sessions:
1. TE Bryce Dixon
While it's safe to say Dixon has had a fairly successful freshman season, hauling in 10 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns, he's shown the potential to do much more. A tall, fluid athlete, he possesses unique skills as a pass-catching tight end. Throw in the fact that Randall Telfer is gone after this season, and there is certainly an opportunity for him to take on a larger role in 2015, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the coaches push him during the bowl practices to ensure he's ready.
2. WR Ajene Harris
Harris was one of the surprises of fall camp, asserting himself as a very capable option at the slot receiver spot. He was even listed as a starter on the first depth chart that was released. Once the season started, however, the Los Angeles Crenshaw product got lost in the shuffle, and then just when he was re-emerging and earned a start against Oregon State, he suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to miss a bulk of the last half of the season. Now appearing to be close to 100 percent again, he should get plenty of reps so he can remind everybody what kind of player he is.
3. CB Jonathan Lockett
Lockett first began turning heads in the summer during volunteer throwing sessions, and he's continued to perform solidly in practice throughout the fall, while playing in a reserve role at times in games. An outstanding athlete with good cover skills, he's certainly someone who could develop into a real contributor down the line at USC, and the more work he gets, the better he'll be in the long run.
4. LB Uchenna Nwosu
Nwosu plays with a brand of aggression that makes him stand out in practice, and he's already made an impact on special teams. A reserve at Sam linebacker, he's also shown a knack for being around the ball in workouts, and once he adds some more weight to his 6-foot-3 frame, he could wind up being quite a player.
5. QB Jalen Greene
Perhaps no player made greater strides last spring than Greene. Bringing a much different skill set to the quarterback position as a dual-threat passer, he worked tirelessly with Clay Helton to refine his mechanics. Having spent this season running the scout team offense, it will be interesting to see how he performs if he does, in fact, get more reps during these upcoming practices. With Max Browne serving as Cody Kessler's backup ahead of him, and Ricky Town and Sam Darnold coming in, Greene seems like the forgotten man at times, but could he ultimately be the Trojans' quarterback of the long-term future? Perhaps we'll get a better read on that topic in the coming days.