With a full session of spring practice now under their belts, here is a look at what kind of impression the five mid-year enrollees at USC made over the course of the fifteen workouts this past March and April.
OL Chuma Edoga (6-foot-4, 285 pounds, freshman)
The Trojans featured an offensive line this spring that possessed more depth and talent than has been seen at USC in quite some time, and that’s precisely because of young, promising players like Edoga. The No. 3-ranked offensive tackle in the ESPN 300 for the Class of 2015, he lived up to his lofty billing as he took extensive reps with the No. 2 offense at right tackle and fit right in.
Athletic and nimble, he also showcased a physical brand of play and a confident mindset. Never was that more evident than when he went head-to-head with Claude Pelon during a one-on-one period in Week 1 and beat the veteran defensive tackle on two consecutive plays.
Interestingly, Edoga wound up being listed No. 4 at left tackle on the post-spring depth chart, even though he consistently worked out on the right side during practices. He still needs to add some bulk to his frame, as well as to continue to work on the technical side of his game with new Trojans offensive line coach Bob Connelly, but he certainly has the appearance of a potential future star, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him contribute early in a reserve role at USC.
OL Roy Hemsley (6-6, 310, freshman)
Hemsley didn’t play football until his sophomore year of high school and his rawness was evident this spring, particularly early on as he struggled at times. Still, as a former basketball player, Hemsley really stood out thanks to his natural athleticism. With long arms, a huge frame and a coachable demeanor, he certainly appears to have everything that you’d want in a tackle.
Hemsley spent his time going with the No. 2 and No. 3 units at left tackle throughout the spring, but in a bit of a surprise he landed on the opposite side on the post-spring depth chart, sitting in third position at right tackle.
In any case, he’s a definite redshirt candidate for the 2015 season, but he did show signs of improvement throughout the course of the workouts. With his raw physical tools, he’s someone to watch with an eye toward the future.
ILB Cameron Smith (6-3, 240, freshman)
Smith might have been the surprise of this group. A big, prototypical looking middle linebacker, the Granite Bay (Calif.) product hit the ground running right from day one and never let up.
Showing that he has what it takes to mix it up with even the most formidable veteran players, he made a huge statement in the spring game finale when he dished out a big-time hit on 270-pound fullback Soma Vainuku.
Just as impressive, however, were the cover skills that he showcased on a daily basis -- something he wasn’t necessarily known for when he arrived on campus. At one point midway through the schedule, in fact, he compiled two pick-sixes in as many workouts.
Running with the second-team defense at middle linebacker behind senior Lamar Dawson, he made a strong initial impression. Look for him to contribute in a backup role as well as on special teams immediately.
QB Ricky Town (6-3, 205, freshman)
Town had his ups and downs this spring, but as USC head coach Steve Sarkisian stated on more than one occasion, that’s exactly what you’d expect from an early-entrant quarterback who is learning a new system and going up against college-level players for the first time.
Consistently running fourth in line behind Cody Kessler, Max Browne and Jalen Greene, he appeared to struggle with his decision-making at times, and he had a number of his passes intercepted, including one in the spring game.
To Town’s credit, he showcased a live arm and a ton of resiliency, and he did put together some solid practices that featured his fair share of highlight-reel throws.
There’s little doubt that he’ll redshirt in 2015, but so long as he continues to gain confidence and develop physically, he could have a bright long-term future at USC.
WR Isaac Whitney (6-4, 205, redshirt junior)
A junior college transfer with two years of eligibility remaining, Whitney started off slowly. Still acclimating himself to the playbook, he appeared to be a step behind at times, and he also struggled with some drops.
Something clicked for Whitney in Week 4, however, and he stepped up his production level dramatically. Snagging almost everything thrown his way down the stretch, he capped his spring off with a very solid five-catch outing in the spring game.
For a wide receiver corps needing help to replace Nelson Agholor and George Farmer, Whitney’s growth over the course of the spring was a positive development to say the least, and with the unique size that he brings to the table on top of some deceptive speed, he really added a different dynamic to the unit.
Whitney was listed No. 2 behind JuJu Smith at one of the wide receiver spots on the post-spring depth chart, and if his progression continues through the summer and on into fall camp, he could take on a major role as a member of the rotation in 2015.