USC Signing Day 2017: Five New Trojans Who Could Start as Freshmen

Nov 5, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Clay Helton enters the field before a NCAA football game against the Oregon Ducks at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Clay Helton enters the field before a NCAA football game against the Oregon Ducks at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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NCAA Football: Oregon at Southern California
NCAA Football: Oregon at Southern California /

How good was USC Signing Day 2017? The Trojans finished with a Top 5 class. But who will have the biggest impact immediately as freshmen?

Going into USC Signing Day 2017, the Trojans needed to shore up positions of need. They did just that, hitting on all six of their main targets, with five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon, a luxurious off-chance get, was the only player to turn Clay Helton’s staff down.

In tow is the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class per the 247Sports Composite, with several talented players expected to compete right away, both as in spring and fall camp.

Here’s the top five incoming freshmen who could start in 2017…

5. Austin Jackson, OT

Freshmen linemen don’t often have the chance to start, but four-star tackle Austin Jackson enters a good situation to compete right away.

USC has three starters to replace on the offensive line, which should make for some interesting positioning during the 2017 offseason. Chuma Edoga is penciled in to take on of the starting tackle spots left behind by Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler, but the other side of the line will be up for grabs.

Adding intrigue is the departure of left guard Damien Mama. What bearing will the open guard place have on the tackle position? The two favorites to slot in opposite Edoga are both more natural guards — Chris Brown and Toa Lobendahn.

And with no guarantees that Lobendahn will be back at starting level following a second season-ending knee injury, that may leave Brown to fill Mama’s spot rather than move outside to tackle.

In that case, there will be an open competition to find Wheeler’s replacement. Jackson’s competitors, from Clayton Johnston to Roy Hemsley, would be reasonably inexperienced as well, leaving the door open for the true freshman to make his move.

Of course, that’ll be open to other tackles in the class like Alijah Vera-Tucker, early enrollee Andrew Vorhees and blueshirt Jalen McKenzie. But as a high four-star, Jackson seems the most ready to go right now..

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