USC Football 2013 Preview: Special Teams


USC special teams have thrived under coach John Baxter and 2013 should continue that trend.


Junior Andre Heidari will look to bounce back from a subpar 2012. After tearing the meniscus in his right leg during the season opener, Heidari never completely found his form, making just 62.5% of his kicks and 95.1% of his PATs. However, as a true freshman in 2011, he led the Pac-12 with an 88.2% success rate and made all 50 PAT attempts. That was good enough to be named First Team All-Pac-12 and First Team All-American by Phil Steele. The question this season is whether Heidari can completely overcome the injury to return to his promising freshman form. Sophomore Alex Wood will be Heidari’s back up.

Junior Craig McMahon will continue as the kick off specialist after logging 17 touchbacks last season.


USC has had one of the most reliable punters in the Pac-12 over the past two seasons in Kyle Negrete. Filling his shoes this coming season is untested but highly touted Kris Albarado. Albarado, a redshirt sophomore, was considered among the best punters in the country coming out of high school. New walk-on Joey Krassenstein, a sophomore, will be Albarado’s back up.

Kick Returners:

Oct 13, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; USC Trojans cornerback Anthony Brown (16) blocks a punt kicked by Washington Huskies punter Korey Durkee (46) during the first half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Marqise Lee led the Pac-12 with 856 return yards and 28.5 yards per return – numbers which put him 10th in the nation. He returns for his junior season in 2013 with sophmore speedster Nelson Agholor alongside. Agholor only returned five kicks last season, but he averaged 24.2 yards with those limited touches. The two together should give USC one of the most exciting kick return units in the country.

Punt Returners:

Best known for blocking and then returning a punt for a touchdown against Washington last season, redshirt junior cornerback Anthony Brown has been tapped to fill the considerable shoes of Robert Woods as punt returner in 2013. Though that blocked punt is his only experience at the college level returning punts, Brown was a decorated running back at Kaiser High in Fontana. Marqise Lee will be Brown’s back up.