The accolades keep piling up for USC, and the season hasn’t even started yet: ESPN.com released its 2012 Preseason All-America Team, and Trojans QB Matt Barkley, WR Robert Woods, and S T.J. McDonald all made the cut.
This comes as no surprise, as these three guys have been the face of this USC team for some time now. It has been Barkley and McDonald’s respective offensive and defensive leadership that kept the USC squad together in the worst of times, and Woods’ dazzling play that got people excited about Trojan football again.
And they may have had a pretty alright season in 2011. That, too.
Matt Barkley came back to USC for his senior year as one of the major players for 2012 and as the Heisman Trophy front-runner, having put up crazy stats last season. He completed 69.1 percent of his passes last season with 39 touchdown passes. Both feats set school records, and the touchdown passes mark also set a Pac-12 record. The four-time starter is currently on pace to set USC career passing and total offense marks, and just might do it while he finishes some business this season.
One of his favorite targets, Woods, also had a prolific season despite playing on a bum ankle for the majority of it. Like Barkley, he too is on pace to shatter a USC record: Dwayne Jarrett currently holds the record for caught passes with 216, but Woods is coming for it, with 176 of his own. He was named an ESPN All-American in 2011 after setting a Pac-12 season record with 111 catches. 17 of those catches came in one game, against Minnesota in the season opener, when he absolutely went off. Woods had surgery on his ankle after the season, so expect him to be back, and even better, for 2012.
For as many question marks as USC’s defense has, Mcdonald is one athlete that makes a definitive statement. He returns to lead USC’s secondary for his third year as a starter and two-time captain with 163 career tackles (5.5 for loss), two blocked punts and six picks. His name was listed on multiple All-America teams following the 2011 season. With his All-American status, he and his father Tim are the only father-son duo in Trojans history to be All-Americans and team captains. Look for McDonald to make a case for himself to be the winner of the Thorpe and Ronnie Lott awards, two watch lists that his name is on for this season.