With four weeks of practice in the books, and the USC Trojans' spring game finale coming up on Saturday, here’s a look at how a depth chart might look if one were released today based on what has been observed.
Note: Players listed in italics are limited or recently injured. Players with long-term injuries who have not been practicing are not listed.
Kessler has had a productive spring so far as the veteran leader of the offense. Browne, who is Kessler’s heir apparent, has really been turning heads in recent days, particularly with some outstanding deep completions that have become a trademark of his play.
Madden (toe) continues to be limited, so Davis still stands as the only scholarship tailback available this spring, and he’s certainly received the lion’s share of reps. Vainuku, normally a fullback, has received increased carries at tailback and has impressed while providing the offense with a rusher with power-back skills.
Mitchell has had arguably the best spring of any receiver, spending the bulk of his time in the slot, but also periodically taking reps outside. Jackson has taken increased snaps at receiver this spring and shown off his playmaking ability with great regularity. Smith has been playing with a cast on his left thumb this spring, but has still managed to make his fair share of highlight-reel plays. After a slow start, Whitney has started to come on.
Bryce Dixon has missed the entire spring because of a student conduct issue and no update has been provided regarding his status. After missing the 2014 season because of academics, Cope-Fitzpatrick has started to show signs of life, but he still isn’t where he was a year ago at this time. Spears, a walk-on, has been running with the No. 1 offense on a consistent basis as of late, and he has performed well, providing reason to believe that he can potentially enter the mix as a member of the rotation in 2015.
Rodgers has been sidelined as of late because of a shoulder injury, so Lobendahn has been spending more and more of his time running with the No. 2 offense at center, with Falah sliding in with the No. 1 offense at left tackle.
Delvon Simmons (6-5, 295, RS Sr.); Malik Dorton (6-2, 250, RS Fr.); Don Hill (6-3, 245, RS Fr.)
Claude Pelon (6-4, 295, RS Sr.); Malik Dorton (6-2, 250, RS Fr.); Jeff Miller (6-1, 245, RS Jr.)
This is probably the hardest unit to get a read on right now. Pelon suffered a shoulder injury late in practice on Saturday, and if it winds up being serious, it will certainly shake things up here. When Pelon went to the sideline, Dorton took his place with the No. 1 group, while also taking reps with the No. 2 unit at nose tackle. Hill, normally a rush end, lined up on the interior at defensive end. Temple has spent the entire spring going with the No. 1 group at nose tackle in place of the injured Antwaun Woods (pectoral muscle).
Olajuwon Tucker (6-3, 220, So.); Michael Hutchings (6-1, 210, Jr.)
Cravens has been the star of this group, and Dawson continues to play at a high level, looking better than ever after missing the 2014 season while recovering from a knee injury. With Anthony Sarao (foot) sidelined this spring, Tucker has moved ahead of Hutchings and has consistently been running with the No. 1 defense at will linebacker. Smith, meanwhile, came up with his second pick-six of the spring last week.
Adoree’ Jackson (5-11, 185, So.); Jonathan Lockett (5-11, 175, So.)
Hawkins has been running with the No. 1 defense at safety in recent days alongside Plattenburg. At cornerback, both Seymour and Jackson have had an outstanding spring. When Jackson switches over to offense, it has been Lockett who has been taking his place with the No. 1 group most frequently.
Kris Albarado (5-10, 200, RS Sr.)
Boermeester and Wood continue to duke it out in what has developed into a really competitive position battle, with both players appearing to bring out the best in each other.