USC football continues to rebuild depth at the tight end position, but spring camp could reveal whether or not that depth will be utilized in 2016.
With USC football’s 2016 spring camp due to begin Tuesday, it’s time to look forward to preparations for the new season.
The Trojans still lack numbers at tight end but there has been an injection of new talent thanks to last year’s arrivals via transfer and enrollment.
USC also has a new tight end coach in John Baxter to lead the unit this spring.
Departing (1): Connor SpearsReturning (4): Cyrus Hobbi, Daniel Imatorbhebhe, Taylor McNamara, Tyler PetiteEarly Enrollees (0): N/AIncoming Freshmen (1): Cary Angeline
Thanks to Cyrus Hobbi’s petition for a sixth year of eligibility, the Trojans return a nearly full unit of tight ends for the 2016 season. The lone departure is walk on Connor Spears, who has decided to walk away from football to pursue other interests.
Taylor McNamara was an asset in his first year with the program after transferring from Oklahoma last fall. Starting all 14 games in 2015, McNamara had 12 catches with four touchdowns and proved to be USC’s most reliable option at tight end.
The Trojans will hope that he can build on his ability as a goal line this spring while fending off challengers for playing time.
Those challengers include sophomore Tyler Petite and Florida transfer Daniel Imatorbhebhe.
Petite is more of a receiving threat than McNamara, which he showed with 15 catches for 145 yards and one touchdown last year. After bedding in as a freshman, spring will be Petite’s opportunity to ensure he becomes a more regular figure in the Trojans passing attack.
Imatorbhebhe, the brother of early enrollee wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, is hoping to establish himself as a big receiving threat as well after sitting out the required year for his transfer.
Hobbi’s return bolsters USC’s numbers at the position, but as a former offensive lineman, his role could increase as a blocking option for the Trojans.
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Biggest Battle: Daniel Imatorbhebhe vs. Tyler Petite
McNamara’s balanced skill set and experience means he will likely retain his starting place in 2016, but there is room for more involvement from USC’s tight ends in the pass catching arena.
Both Petite, whose 6-foot-6 frame belies his name, and Imatorbhebhe, whose catching ability is above average, should be capable of stepping up as the next dangerous receiving option at tight end. However, with so many receivers now available in Tee Martin’s offense, there are only so many touches for the both of them.
Most to Gain: Daniel Imatorbhebhe
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Since he transferred after just one semester at Florida and sat out last season, Imatorbhebhe enters spring camp with four years of eligibility on his side.
He has time to establish himself as a presence for the Trojans, the opportunity with numbers still limited and the ability to surprise as a standout.
Most to Lose: Taylor McNamara
As the returning starter, McNamara has the target on his back this spring with the two players beneath him gunning for his job. A slip up on his part with a new coach running the unit could see him lose his place atop the depth chart.