Two-way athlete Juju Smith began USC football’s fall camp as a wide receiver, receiving rave reviews. Entering the second week of camp, he might be switching jerseys, as reports out of Howard Jones Field indicate that head coach Steve Sarkisian is considering trying Smith out as a defensive back.
Sark said that the coaching staff is thinking about putting JuJu Smith at nickel on defense and Rahshead Johnson at cornerback.
— Max Meyer (@TheMaxMeyer) August 10, 2014
Last year, Dion Bailey played the role of the Trojans’ nickelback, though he was used up towards the line of scrimmage as a linebacker in various defensive packages. Bailey declared for the NFL draft as a junior, leaving a vacancy in the Trojans defense that could suit with Smith or even Su’a Cravens quite well.Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox used nickel packages at Washington that surrounded the positioning of Shaq Thompson as a linebacker/safety hybrid.
This season, USC has both the personnel to deploy a true nickel and/or a hybrid nickel.
Joining Smith on defense could be fellow two-way freshman Rahshead Johnson. Like Smith, he started out as a receiver this past week, but might wind up as a cornerback.
USC currently has nine scholarship players that could play at corner, including incumbent starters Kevon Seymour and Josh Shaw, as well as another two-way player in Adoree’ Jackson.
Jackson started out as a cornerback when fall camp opened, but has seen more and more split reps on both sides of the ball throughout the camp’s opening week.