Could new Trojan wide receiver Joseph Lewis redshirt? Who’s filling the role of Juju Smith-Schuster? RoT’s USC football mailbag seeks answers.
The USC football team is loaded with talent going into the 2017 season, but the losses of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers at wide receive make it a position of emphasis for the Trojans. Reign of Troy’s mailbag looks at the passing game.
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Let’s get started:
QUESTION: How involved is Lynn Swann in recruiting? — John O.
ANSWER: Athletic Directors oversee all athletics and given the nature of the job, do not have the time to focus on the finer details of any one sport. Lynn Swann does talk to Clay Helton often, but besides greeting recruits on official visits, his involvement is very minimal.
QUESTION: This might’ve already been asked, but do you think they will redshirt Jody Lewis with all the WR talent on the team? — Not a Diver
ANSWER: That is a distinct possibility. Joseph Lewis was a five-star recruit, and in recent years, highly touted recruits at USC skill positions –especially wide receiver– are locks to see the field early on. Robert Woods, Marqise Lee, and Juju Smith-Schuster all started as true freshman and were key contributors.
Those were in the sanction years, however. With the depth they had last year, only Michael Pittman played, and that was in a very limited role.
That meant four-stars Tyler Vaughns, Josh Imatorbhebhe and Trevon Sidney, along with three-star Velus Jones all were able to redshirt. That is a good thing. It gave them time to gain weight and add strength, as well as adapt to the speed and physicality of the college game before they are asked to take snaps.
In order to contribute, Lewis will have to beat out those guys, and he only has fall camp to do so. However, given his skill set and size, he should be able to challenge for playing time.
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If he is not going to see significant minutes, then he could redshirt because the team has the depth to be successful without relying on him.
QUESTION: Which wide receiver will do the most in replacing Juju Smith-Schuster? — Charles
ANSWER: Deontay Burnett. Burnett has arguably the best hands on the team, and really thrived when made a full-time starter after Steven Mitchell got hurt at Arizona in 2016.
There were times –including his three-touchdown performance in the Rose Bowl– when Burnett played so well he overshadowed Smith-Schuster. That is not a knock on Juju at all, as he is one of the all-time great USC receivers.
But expect Burnett to play inside and outside, and emerge as Sam Darnold’s No. 1 receiving target in the passing game.