Despite returning five players with starting experience on the offensive line for the 2013 season, the Trojans will have a new look line ahead of a new starting quarterback, as Khaled Holmes’s graduation brings forth the task of finding a new center. First up in the search to replace the All-Pac-12 Holmes is Marcus Martin, who’s begun practicing at center this week, per Gary Klein.
“It’s enjoyable to get a different aspect of the game,” Martin told the LA Times. “It’s helping me grow as a player because I’m learning the whole offense.”
Ironically, prior to the 2011 season, it was Holmes that made the move to center to replace Kris O’Dowd, after starting all 13 games in 2010 at guard.
Of late, moving inside has been a successful move for a long list of linemen, including the Alabama’s Barrett Jones, who went from being a unanimous All-American at left tackle in 2011, to winning this year’s Rimington Award for the nation’s top center.
Martin, a sophomore, has started 10 games at left guard for the Trojans in 2012, while twice getting spelled for Abe Markowitz, who is likely set to transfer, should he be granted a sixth season of eligibility.
In addition to Martin, options at center include redshirt freshman Cyrus Hobbi and Class of 2013 commit Khaliel Rodgers.
Hobbi has one career start under his belt, as he got the nod in place of Holmes against Stanford in Week 3 and struggled mightily. Rodgers has been told by USC coaches that he’ll move to center in college, but as a fall 2013 enrollee, he won’t have much time to win the job.
Center is the second most crucial position on offense in terms of chemistry behind quarterback, giving Martin and Hobbi a significant advantage, as they have both spring camp and summer workouts to win the position and build a rapport with USC’s trio of potential quarterbacks.