Cursed Junior Receivers and More USC Football News

Dec 5, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster (9) runs with the ball after making a catch against the Stanford Cardinal in the third quarter in the Pac-12 Conference football championship game at Levi
Dec 5, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster (9) runs with the ball after making a catch against the Stanford Cardinal in the third quarter in the Pac-12 Conference football championship game at Levi /

Star junior receivers have had a troubled track record for USC football lately, plus Trojan news from around the web.

Can’t get enough USC football and basketball news? We’ve got your morning dose of all the best content from around the web concerning the men of Troy.

1st & 10:

First Word… If you are a star junior receiver at USC, beware. Injury trouble awaits.

It’s a pattern that Trojan stars at wide out can’t seem to avoid. The injury bug is always looming over football teams, but at USC the trend remains worrisome, especially in light of JuJu Smith-Schuster’s first five days of Fall Camp.

During USC’s first full pads practice at the Coliseum Monday, Smith-Schuster came away from a play clutching his hand and howled. Trainers swarmed him. He came off the field and soon enough his hand was wrapped in a thick white mitt.

Three days earlier Smith-Schuster limped off the practice field at Howard Jones Field with his foot wrapped in a ball of ice. It was later revealed to be a sprained toe.

On Friday Clay Helton talked about the need to limit Smith-Schuster during camp, lest that sprain become full-blown turf toe. He had to take his helmet away to keep him from going back in for more action once his day was finished on Sunday.

More from Reign of Troy

On Monday it was another appendage causing the receiver problems.

This time, Helton’s post-practice presser revealed that Smith-Schuster had dislocated his little finger. It was popped back in place on the sideline.

A toe and a pinky. The smallest things which could potentially derail USC’s 2016 season.

The former needs to be managed, the latter appears to be a minor problem for now.

The trouble is USC has been through this before. Robert Woods’ body buckled when defensive coordinators in 2012 figured out that the only way to stop him was to abuse him.

After a 1,200-yard sophomore season, Woods’ production as a junior dropped to 846 yards.

Marqise Lee faced similar tactics, but was ultimately slowed in 2013 by a sprained knee he suffered in Lane Kiffin’s final game as head coach. The then-junior receiver, who had gained more than 1,700 yards as a sophomore, missed three games and managed just 791 yards in his final season.

Nelson Agholor bucked the trend by having his strongest season as a junior.

Smith-Schuster will hope to be more of an Agholor than a Woods or Lee when it comes to injury record in 2016. But that hope hasn’t gotten off to a good start.

And Ten USC Football and Basketball News Links…

  1. “Fall Camp, Day 5 Practice Notes (8/8)” (Reign of Troy)The balance became teaching tackling and protecting players became a talking point on Monday. Plus all of our notes on what happened at the Coliseum.
  2. “Tommie Robinson, Neil Callaway Focused On Details” (Reign of Troy)The two coaches responsible for getting USC’s running game where it needs to be talked about how far the Trojans still have to go and how it’s all in the details.
  3. “Ronald Jones II aims to become a more complete running back” (ESPN)Jones was challenged by new running backs coach Tommie Robinson to try his hand as a lead blocker, just to see how it went. The running back has taken that lesson to improve his all around game.
  4. “USC pads popping but don’t know if physicality has improved” (LA Times)Zach Helfand’s report from Monday’s practice looks at the physicality of USC’s defense, which is still difficult to gauge.
  5. “USC linebacker Cameron Smith let loose – a little bit” (Daily News)Cameron Smith is begging for more reps. Clay Helton says keeping him off the field is like caging a lion. The linebacker, slowly but surely, is making his way back on the field, as detailed by Joey Kaufman.
  6. “Oluwole Betiku loves being part of Trojan family” ( Betiku has embraced the Trojan family fully, appreciating the atmosphere around USC and making friends “with everyone” from on-campus workers to security guards and janitors.
  7. “Healthy Mitchell is ready for more” ( Mitchell is the healthiest he’s ever been, is teeming with confidence and is ready to produce his best season ever.
  8. “Bucky’s Best: Smith-Schuster leads CFB’s top pass-catchers” ( is “firmly entrenched as the No. 1 receiver in the minds of NFL scouts heading into the season,” says Bucky Brooks.
  9. “Who can play their way into the Pac-12 postseason top 25?” (ESPN)After ESPN finished up their Top 25 players in the Pac-12 list, including Smith-Schuster at No. 5, Kevin Gemmell offered Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II as two of the five potential candidates to break into that ranking by season’s end.
  10. “USC Football Mailbag: Who Will Emerge As the No. 2 Receiver?” (Reign of Troy)Our weekly mailbag looks at potential No. 2 receivers, the likelihood of a 10-2 or 5-7 season and more.

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