Clay Helton Releases First USC Depth Chart of 2016

USC offensive linemen during practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
USC offensive linemen during practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

After not putting one out following spring camp, new Trojan head coach Clay Helton released his first USC depth chart upon the conclusion of fall camp.

Normally, the Trojans would release a depth chart after spring camp. But with so many players missing out due to injury, including players entrenched in battles like Toa Lobendahn, Khaliel Rodgers and Chris Hawkins, Helton opted to sit on it until after fall camp.

That added intrigue to certain developments, like the closely watched competition at quarterback between redshirt junior Max Browne and redshirt freshman Sam Darnold.

At the end of the day, it’s Browne that gets the starting job for Week 1 against Alabama, as announced Saturday afternoon.

Browne entered camp as the favorite and held off a valiant effort from Darnold, who could prove to be a tough customer that keeps pressure on the redshirt junior to perform at a high level.

SEE MORE: Where Does Sam Darnold Go From Here?

Other battles settled in Helton’s first depth chart include Toa Lobendahn and Chris Brown earning top line jobs at center and left guard, over Nico Falah and tied with Damien Mama, respectively.

Sophomore wide receiver Deontay Burnett earned even billing with veteran slot receiver Steven Mitchell, which is a testament to how well Burnett played in fall camp.

LISTEN: Depth Chart Breakdown

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Defensively, the biggest surprise of sorts is that Rasheem Green is listed as an OR at both defensive end positions, as opposed to grabbing an outright starting spot.

Moreover, the Trojans have ditched the nomenclature from spring, meaning that the depth chart has the appearance of a 3-4 defense, compared to the 5-2 base indicated in previous rosters.

RELATED: How USC’s Defense Fits Clancy Pendergast’s Defense

Due to this change, edge rushers like Porter Gustin and Uchenna Nwosu are now labeled as ‘outside linebackers’, rather than defensive ends. They had been working with linebacker coach Johnny Nansen throughout fall camp.

Here’s the full two-deep, as sorted out by Helton and released by USC:


Wide Receiver: Darreus Rogers (Sr.) / Jalen Greene OR PittmanLeft Tackle: Chad Wheeler (RS Sr.) / Price OR JohnstonLeft Guard: Chris Brown (RS So.) OR Damien Mama (Jr.)Center: Toa Lobendahn (Jr.) / Nico Falah (RS Jr.)Right Guard: Viana Talamaivao (Jr.) / Jordan Simmons (RS Sr.)Right Tackle: Zach Banner (RS Sr.) / Chuma Edoga (So.)Tight End: Taylor McNamara (RS Sr.) OR Tyler Petite (So.)Wide Receiver: Steven Mitchell (RS Jr.) OR Deontay Burnett (So.)Wide Receiver: JuJu Smith-Schuster (Jr.) / De’Quan Hampton (Sr.)Quarterback: Max Browne (RS Jr.) / Sam Darnold (FR Fr.)Running Back: Justin Davis (Sr.) / Ronald Jones (So.)Fullback: Reuben Peters (RS So.) / Chris Edmondson (Fr.)


Defensive End: Noah Jefferson (So.) OR Rasheem Green (So.)Nose Tackle: Stevie Tu’ikolovatu (RS Sr.) / Khaliel Rodgers (RS Jr.)Defensive End: Malik Dorton (RS So.) OR Rasheem Green (So.)Predator: Porter Gustin (So.) / / Hill OR Betiku OR MurphyOutside Linebacker: Uchenna Nwosu (RS So.) / Jabari Ruffin (RS Sr.)Inside Linebacker: Cameron Smith (So.) / Olajuwon Tucker (Jr.)Inside Linebacker: Michael Hutchings (Sr.) / Osa Masina (So.)Cornerback: Adoree’ Jackson (Jr.) / Lockett OR LangleyCornerback: Iman Marshall (So.) / Harris OR JonesStrong Safety: Chris Hawkins (RS Jr.) OR Leon McQuay (Sr.)Nose Tackle: Marvell Tell (So.) / Ykili Ross (RS Fr.)

The Trojans will now begin a two-part game week preparation for Alabama starting with a rehearsal week of practices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, before a mock game on Saturday.

USC will release the game notes for Week 1 on Sunday, August 28, which could potentially have changes from the initial depth chart.

The season begins Saturday, September 3rd at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, as the Trojans face the defending national champions and No. 1 Crimson Tide.