Predicting the USC offensive depth chart for 2018

USC won the Pac-12 title in 2017 thanks to a tremendous offense that featured several future professionals. Those top players have moved on, though the Trojans aren’t short on returning talent for the upcoming season.

Throw in the nation’s fourth-best recruiting class and USC shouldn’t be hurting on offense.

Who exactly will be starting remains uncertain as USC isn’t set to begin spring practice until March and its spring game is not until Saturday, April 14. Here’s an early guess at the depth chart heading into the 2018 season.

Quarterback

Starter: Matt Fink, R-So.

Reserves: Jack Sears, R-Fr.; J.T. Daniels, Fr.

Notes: With Sam Darnold turning pro, USC enters 2018 with its least experience at quarterback since 2009. Fink is the only QB who has seen the field in college, though he only got mop-up duty in three games (all in October). Sears is a former 4-star prospect who sat out this past season while Daniels is graduating a year early to jump start his college career. The position is young but very talented.

Running Back

Starter: Stephen Carr, So.

Reserves: Aca’Cedric Ware, Sr.; Vavae Malepeai, So.; Markese Stepp, Fr.

Notes: Carr was USC’s second-leading rusher in 2017 behind Ronald Jones II, who entered the NFL draft following a 1,550-yard, 19-touchdown seasons, though he only got 65 carries in 10 games and just 13 after returning from a midseason injury. Ware and Malepeai both averaged better than 5 yards per carry in their limited roles. Stepp is a 4-star signee whom the Trojans signed in December after he de-committed from Indiana.

Left Tackle

Starter: Austin Jackson, So.

Reserves: Clayton Johnston, R-Jr.; Jalen McKenzie, R-Fr.; Nathan Smith, R-So.

Notes: Toa Lobendahn, who started 13 games at left tackle in 2017, is expected to move back to center this fall. That opens the door for Jackson to assume the job of blind-side protector after seeing some action as a true freshman. Johnston started once in place of Lobendahn last season while McKenzie was redshirted and Smith sat out the year with a torn ACL.

Left Guard

Starter: Chris Brown, R-Sr.

Reserves: Roy Hemsley, R-Jr.; Jacob Daniel, Sr.; Alijah Vera-Tucker, R-Fr.

Notes: Brown started every game at left guard in 2017 and figures to do the same in his senior season. Hemsley and Daniel have seen some time but either would be a significant dropoff to Brown if he were to get hurt.

Center

Starter: Toa Lobendahn, R-Sr.

Reserves: Brett Neilon, R-Fr.; Andrew Dedich, Fr.

Notes: Nico Falah’s graduation and Cole Smith’s medical retirement would be a lot harder to deal with if Lobendahn hadn’t opted to return for his final season. He’s played all over the line but center is his natural position and he can help groom two promising young prospects in Neilon and Dedich, each of whom were ranked as the second-best centers in their respective recruiting classes.

Right Guard

Starter: Andrew Voorhees, So.

Reserves: Jordan Austin, R-Sr.; Frank Martin, R-So.; Alijah Vera-Tucker, R-Fr.

Notes: Voorhees took over the starting job in early October after Viane Talamaivao got hurt and he handled the job tremendously. USC didn’t sign a guard in the 2018 class so this position is on the thin side, though Austin did fill in for Voorhees for a big chunk of the Pac-12 title game.

Right Tackle

Starter: Chuma Edoga, Sr.

Reserves: Clayton Johnston, R-Jr.; Jalen McKenzie, R-Fr.; Nathan Smith, R-So.

Notes: Edoga started 12 of 14 games last season, with Johnston filling in against Oregon State and Utah (in addition to a start at left tackle). USC figures to cycle players into those tackle spots like it did in 2018, so the backups here are the same as on the left side.

Tight End

Starter: Tyler Petite, Sr.

Reserves: Daniel Imatorbhebhe, R-Jr.; Josh Falo, So.; Erik Krommenhoek, So.

Notes: Petite caught 23 passes and scored 3 touchdowns in 2017 but lost his starting job to Imatorbhebhe late in the season. Imatorbhebhe only had 8 catches and didn’t score, while Falo had 2 TDs on just 4 receptions. The position has upside but it will depend on how USC uses it in the passing game.

Wide Receiver

Starters: Tyler Vaughns, R-So.; Michael Pittman Jr., Jr.; Amon-Ra St. Brown, Fr.

Reserves: Velus Jones, R-So.; Trevon Sidney, R-So.; Jalen Greene, R-Sr.; Randal Grimes, So.; Josh Imatorbhebhe, So.; Keyshawn ‘Pie’ Young, R-Fr.; Devon Williams, Fr.

Notes: Receiver is by far USC’s deepest position on offense, which is saying something since Deontay Burnett and Steven Mitchell Jr. accounted for 127 catches, 1,788 yards and 13 touchdowns. Vaughns is ready to be the primary receiver after a breakout redshirt freshman campaign (57 catches, 809 yards, 5 TDs) and Pittman finished very strong. St. Brown was the top-rated receiver in the 2018 class and is a top candidate for the third starting spot. The Trojans could be even deeper depending on what happens with Robert Lewis IV, who was arrested Monday on a domestic violence charge.

The post Predicting the USC offensive depth chart for 2018 appeared first on Diehards.

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