<
>

Early impressions: Newcomers at USC

With two months of summer volunteer workouts at USC now in the books, here is a player-by-player look at how the newest additions to the team have looked so far.

Note: Expected incoming freshman defensive lineman Kevin Scott, blueshirt freshman Clayton Johnston and Oklahoma-transfer Taylor McNamara have not been spotted at any of the workouts yet, so they are not included in this rundown.

WR Deontay Burnett: 6-foot, 151 pounds

High School: Gardena (Calif.) Serra

Burnett, an incoming blueshirt who will be awarded a scholarship on Day 2 of fall camp, has been one of the surprises of the workouts. A quick and shifty receiver, he’s been catching everything thrown his way. Burnett is still a little undersized when it comes to his weight, so it remains to be seen just how soon he will see the field, but if he keeps making plays through fall camp like he has up to this point, the USC coaches might be tempted to give him some reps in the slot -- particularly with Ajene Harris (hips) sidelined for 2015.

DL Jacob Daniel: 6-4, 325

High School: Fresno (Calif.) Clovis North

Coming off a pair of knee injuries that forced him to miss the end of his junior season in high school and all but two games of his senior campaign, Daniel is moving well and is showing no obvious lingering effects from those prior setbacks. A big, strong athlete, he’s been running with the No. 2 and No. 3 defensive groups, primarily at nose tackle.

QB Sam Darnold: 6-4, 215

High School: San Clemente (Calif.)

Still very new to the offensive system, it has appeared as though Darnold’s head has been spinning at times when he’s back in the pocket, but he’s grown more and more comfortable as the summer has gone on. Certain to redshirt as a freshman, he has showcased a strong arm, and with Jalen Greene spending his time at wide receiver as of late, Darnold is probably the most capable rushing quarterback on the roster right now.

RB Dominic Davis: 5-10, 175

High School: Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany

Davis didn’t arrive on campus until late June, but he has made an instant splash at the volunteer workouts. An exciting playmaker with outstanding speed, he has been lining up at tailback and making highlight plays with regularity, both with his rushing ability and his pass-catching skills. He has the potential to bring a different dynamic to the position and looks ready to contribute in some capacity immediately.

DL Rasheem Green: 6-5, 285

High School: Gardena (Calif.) Serra

Green has been extremely limited this summer as he continues to recover from knee surgery, spending the vast majority of the workouts watching from the sideline. Like the other incoming freshmen defensive linemen, Green possesses the size to help out immediately, but only if he gets the green light to participate in drills when fall camp opens up and gets in the swing of things in a hurry.

RE Porter Gustin: 6-5, 250

High School: Salem (Utah) Hills

An impressively built athlete, Gustin looks more like a seasoned vet than the green freshman that he is. He appears to be a natural fit at the rush end position in Justin Wilcox’s defense. Surprisingly quick off the edge, Gustin has had some real success rushing the passer this summer, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him enter the rotation this fall.

WR De'Quan Hampton: 6-4, 220

Junior College: Long Beach City College

With a tall build and long arms, Hampton brings unique skills similar to that of Isaac Whitney, who transferred in from Riverside (Calif.) City College in January. As to be expected, Hampton isn’t quite as far along as Whitney, but he has shown enough this summer to have a chance to play in a reserve role early.

OLB John Houston Jr.: 6-3, 220

High School: Gardena (Calif.) Serra

Possessing the long frame and athleticism that USC head coach Steve Sarkisian is known to covet at strongside linebacker, Houston has been running with the No. 2 and No. 3 defensive groups and has shown promise, particularly with his play in coverage. Of all of the new additions at linebacker, however, he’s probably the one who could stand to bulk up a little more.

DL Noah Jefferson: 6-6, 330

High School: Henderson (Nev.) Liberty

Jefferson is the biggest of an incoming defensive line class marked by tremendous size. Despite his huge frame, Jefferson moves well, and he could provide depth right away at defensive tackle, where he has been lining up throughout the summer as a backup.

RB Ronald Jones II: 6-0, 185

High School: McKinney (Texas) North

Another player who didn’t arrive until a little later in the summer, Jones has just started to get his feet wet in the players-only workouts and hasn’t taken very many reps. Possessing an upright rushing style, he definitely has the speed everyone saw on the high school level, although he hasn’t broken off any highlight-reel plays just yet.

CB Isaiah Langley: 6-0, 165

High School: Pleasanton (Calif.) Foothill

Langley was the most recent arrival of this group, not getting to campus until this month. Still, he has shown well so far. He picked off a pass in his very first workout and, in general, he’s been around the ball quite a bit.

CB Iman Marshall: 6-2, 200

High School: Long Beach (Calif.) Poly

One of the jewels of USC's recruiting haul, Marshall has lived up to the hype for the most part. Though there were times this summer when he was a little too aggressive in coverage, particularly in one-on-one situations, he eventually settled down and has had more than his fair share of standout plays. A bigger cornerback with a nose for the ball, he’s probably the most likely of the new defensive back arrivals to see the field right away.

ILB Osa Masina: 6-4, 245

High School: Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton

Another young player with a long, impressive build, Masina has been lining up at weakside linebacker with the No. 3 unit. A rangy athlete with strong football instincts, he has impressed during the individual drills with the way that he moves for a player his size, but his real strengths aren’t likely to shine through until the pads come on in August.

TE Tyler Petite: 6-6, 235

High School: Moraga (Calif.) Campolindo

With Bryce Dixon out of the equation, and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick's status still unknown, the Trojans are low in numbers at the tight end position, and with what he has shown, Petite looks like he just might be capable of logging some meaningful playing time as a freshman. Though he still does need to bulk up, he has taken plenty of reps this summer, proving to be a tall target with sure hands.

DL Christian Rector: 6-5, 260

High School: Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola

There was a lot of talk that Rector would wind up standing up at rush end when he got to USC, but so far he has been lining up on the interior with his hand on the ground at defensive end. A little light for the position right now, he has the tall frame and wide shoulders that lead you to believe that over time he can add the necessary weight while maintaining his speed.

S Ykili Ross: 6-2, 185

High School: Riverside (Calif.) Poly

A fantastic all-around player, Ross has been lining up at safety. Strong in coverage with solid instincts, he has the look of a player who could be called upon right now in a reserve role without looking out of place, particularly with the safety position somewhat low in depth. He was also a star on special teams on the high school level, so he figures to contribute early at USC in that regard.

OL Cole Smith: 6-4, 280

High School: Mission Viejo (Calif.)

Undersized at this point, Smith isn’t likely to see the field in 2015, but as he spends more and more time in the weight room and builds his body up, he could develop into a real player at center. Possessing excellent fundamentals, his snaps have been accurate throughout the summer, and that’s music to the ears of Sarkisian and Co., who have seen Trojans centers struggle in that department in recent years.

S Marvell Tell: 6-2, 190

High School: Encino (Calif.) Crespi

Lining up at safety, Tell is a tall and rangy athlete with surprising cover skills for a player his size. He caught everyone's attention in his first workout when he made two pass break-ups, and he’s continued to perform well throughout the past two months. He’s another newcomer who, with the lack of bodies at safety, might be asked to contribute as a freshman.

RB Aca'Cedric Ware: 6-0, 200

High School: Cedar Hill (Texas)

Ware has been the most active of all of the new tailbacks this summer, landing on campus early in the summer and getting extensive reps during the throwing sessions. A shifty runner, he has also come along nicely as a pass-catcher coming out of the backfield, hauling in a deep touchdown pass during the team’s most recent volunteer workout.

TE Caleb Wilson: 6-3, 186

High School: Gardena (Calif.) Serra

Wilson, the son of USC defensive line coach Chris Wilson, is technically a walk-on, but he’s certainly worth mentioning along with the new scholarship additions because he’s made an instant impression. A nice looking receiving threat with outstanding leaping ability, he has made a number of highlight-reel grabs throughout the summer. More closely resembling a wide receiver in terms of his size right now, Wilson can’t really be considered as an every down tight end at this point, but with what he’s shown, there could be some kind of role for him in the not-too distant future.