Player News

Date:

According to USC HC Steve Sarkisian, OC Clay Helton will call the majority of the team's plays this season.

Helton won't have complete control over play-calling, though, as Sarkisian will have the final say in some situations. After losing four games in 2014, expectations are high for this Trojan squad. We'll see how long Sark's willing to cede play-calling duties if the team struggles early.
Aug 29 - 7:25 PM

NFL Media draft analyst Gil Brandt wrote that USC redshirt senior QB Cody Kessler "reminds you of Drew Brees in college."

In an ongoing countdown of the Top-20 players in college football by NFL.com, Kessler joins the party at No. 13. Draft analyst Brandt called the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder "very smart, very accurate," while fellow expert Bucky Brooks said that Kessler "might lack the big arm that scouts covet, but there isn't a better game manager in college football." He completed 69.7% of his passes last season, good for 3,826 yards and a 39/5 TD/INT ratio.
Source: NFL.com
Aug 29 - 4:36 PM

USC freshman TE Tyler Petite should "see time this season with depth an issue at tight end," USC beat writer Scott Wolf notes.

The former four-star recruit out of California, recorded 37 receptions for 969 yards and nine touchdowns during his senior year at Campolindo High School. ESPN ranked the 6-foot-6, 235 pound Petite the No. 2 tight end in the 2015 recruiting class and the 85th overall recruit. With sophomore Bryce Dixon out of the program due to an unspecified student-conduct issue, and junior Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick still working on being academically eligible, Petite has solid opportunity to contribute.
Aug 27 - 2:44 PM

USC redshirt junior LT Chad Wheeler (knee, concussion) returned to practice on Wednesday.

Wheeler suffered the concussion after he was accidentally hit in the head by a medicine ball last week. He wasn't wearing a helmet at the time. The 6-foot-7, 280-pounder had a sense of humor about it, saying, "Oddest injury I’ve ever been subject to." In addition to Wheeler's head recovery, he was also given the green light to practice in full on his surgically repaired right knee after being limited to this point. The junior said that he felt good after Wednesday practice. He hopes to be ready for the team's kickoff against Arkansas State on September 5.
Source: LA Times
Aug 26 - 6:32 PM

CBS Sports' Rob Rang believes that USC senior C Max Tuerk "offers an intoxicating blend of length, initial quickness and agility that is sure to excite offensive line coaches."

"With a frame that looks better suited to left tackle or even tight end, Tuerk isn't your traditional short, squatty center but that's precisely where he starred a year ago for the Trojans and will remain there in 2015," Rang wrote. The USC prospect is currently ESPN's Mel Kiper's top senior center prospect. In his time with the Trojans, the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Tuerk has started at every position on the offensive line.
Source: CBS Sports
Aug 26 - 4:00 PM

According to NFL Media draft analyst Chad Reuter, USC sophomore WR JuJu Smith-Schuster "looks like a senior in his physique and route-running."

Smith-Schuster made 54 receptions for 724 yards and five touchdowns as a true freshman. NFL Media analyst Reuter has deemed him the "next excellent receiver to come through USC." Sports on Earth's Matt Brown would likely support that assessment. In late July, Brown noted that the 6-foot-2, 210-pound sophomore has "all the necessary traits to develop into a game-changing receiver." A five-star recruit, it doesn't hurt that Smith-Schuster has one of the best quarterbacks in the country looking for his number. Hitting your developmental potential becomes that much easier with the likes of Cody Kessler behind center.
Source: NFL.com
Aug 25 - 6:42 PM

USC freshman RB Dominic Davis has "undeniable home run ability" that should help him avoid a redshirt, according to Travis Haney of ESPN.

Haney points to Davis' skill set which allows him to shift between running back and slot receiver. The freshman reportedly scored as a rusher, receiver and returner in a recent scrimmage.
Source: ESPN
Aug 25 - 11:44 AM

NFL Media draft analyst Chad Reuter believes USC senior FB Soma Vainuku "should be valued for his multiple contributions to the team."

Because of his versatility, the cousin of former USC star and Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga could get drafted. "He'll emulate a six-foot, 255-pound battering ram while leading the tailback into the hole, gain tough yardage as a runner, catch the ball out of the backfield and then pummel a returner on kick-coverage units," Reuter wrote. Vainuku had only seven carries and zero receptions last season.
Source: NFL.com
Aug 24 - 5:55 PM

USC HC Steve Sarkisian apologized for his behavior at a school-sponsored donor event Saturday.

In front of donors, players, staff, coaches and family and friends thereof, Sarkisian's behavior and comments grew so erratic that athletic director Pat Haden pulled him off the stage. The coach was suspected to be drunk. "I sincerely apologize to my players and staff and to our fans for my behavior and my inappropriate language at our kickoff event Saturday night," Sarkisian said in a statement. "I have a responsibility to all of them and I let them down. Pat Haden talked to me after the event about my actions and I assured him this will not happen again." Haden also released a statement saying he had privately reprimanded the coach.
Aug 23 - 4:37 PM

TFY Draft Insider Tony Pauline reports the industry believes USC redshirt junior T Zach Banner will enter the 2016 draft.

That could be a big misstep, according to the analyst. "Unless he significantly improves his game its a mistake off the ’14 film," Pauline wrote. "Banner is a big bodied blocker but a lineman who shows little in the way of balance or the ability to consistently finish blocks due to his lack of balance." Pauline doesn't current have a draftable grade on the 6-foot-9, 360-pound Banner. Ouch.
Aug 23 - 4:20 PM

USC redshirt senior LB Anthony Sarao "will be downgraded as he’s not even 6-feet tall but on film he’s a terrific linebacker with a complete game," according to TFY Draft Insider Tony Pauline.

"In the right system he will produce at the next level," Pauline wrote. Pauline graded Sarao as a fifth-rounder. The 6-foot, 220-pounder "could be a sleeper when it comes to the draft," according to ESPN's Greg Katz.
Aug 23 - 3:40 PM

USC redshirt senior DL Greg Townsend has produced a "terrific camp," according to Bruce Feldman.

Townsend is a former top recruit and his father is a former four-time All-Pro NFL player. Townsend only filled a backup role last year and missed 2013 with a knee injury. USC needs to fill the shoes of Leonard Williams, and Steve Sarkisian is expecting the "explosive and disruptive" Townsend to help tremendously.
Aug 23 - 11:27 AM

TFY Draft Insider Tony Pauline compares USC redshirt senior QB Cody Kessler to Mark Sanchez.

He means it as a compliment. "That’[s] not a knock as I believe if Kessler is used correctly, unlike the way Sanchez was during much of his career with the New York Jets, he can start and be a successful signal caller on Sunday," Pauline wrote. "Kessler is an accurate passer who does not make mental errors but has size limitations." Pauline graded Kessler as a Rds. 2-3 prospect. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Kessler threw for 3,826 yards (8.5 yards per attempt) on 69.7 percent completions with a 39/5 TD/INT ratio last year.
Aug 22 - 8:07 PM

USC junior LB/S Su'a Cravens "is a forceful safety, disrupting the action up the field against the run while showing competent ball skills in coverage," according to TFY Draft Insider Tony Pauline.

The only question left for the NFL is what position the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder will play, as Cravens is a more of a hybrid OLB/S in the Shaq Thompson mold. "Cravens is big boy, maybe too big for safety and may get consideration as a one-gap linebacker," Pauline wrote, grading Cravens as a second-rounder.
Aug 22 - 6:36 PM

USC redshirt junior T Zach Banner dropped 25 lbs this offseason and now stands at 357 lbs.

Banner, the son of former NFL player Lincoln Kennedy, played last season at 383 lbs. Good gracious. Banner joined USC around 310 lbs but underwent surgery on his hips, ending in a weight gain. The massive right tackle said the added weight was a major factor in his poor snaps versus edge rushers. No matter what, defensive linemen struggle to get around big offensive linemen if they stay balance and in good position. Banner did not always do this, and he could play with more power to fit his size.
Source: Scout
Aug 21 - 12:10 PM


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