The first day of USC football spring camp held a number of clues about the state of the Trojan depth chart in 2017 after losing a number of starters.
A number of would-be and returning starters sat out USC football’s first practice of spring camp due to injury, but the first team line up for the Trojans on Day 1 still revealed plenty.
There were no surprises at quarterback or running back where Sam Darnold and Ronald Jones II, as expected, occupied starting spots. Tight end was also straight forward with Daniel Imatorbhebhe and Tyler Petite in the action. Behind them, redshirt freshman Cary Angeline saw increased second team reps.
With two wide receiver places up for grabs, Jalen Greene and Michael Pittman took first team reps along with Deontay Burnett. That’s no surprise considering the experience gap between those who played in 2016 and their redshirt challengers like Tyler Vaughns. Trevon Sidney and Josh Imatorbhebhe both sat out of practice, limiting the competition at that spot for now.
The offensive line holds the most intrigue when it comes to positional battles, but the position is also dealing with the most injuries. On Tuesday, USC’s first team offensive line featured Chuma Edoga at left tackle, Chris Brown at left guard, Cole Smith at center, Viane Talamaivao at right guard and Roy Hemsley at right tackle.
After practice, head coach Clay Helton said that Edoga would be USC’s starting left tackle if the Trojans had to play today, while Hemsley is getting the first crack at right tackle.
SEE ALSO: Projecting USC’s 2017 Depth Chart
Smith is a fill in for returning center Nico Falah, who will sit out the start of camp with a back injury, but the rest should certainly be in contention for starting jobs. Of course, Toa Lobendahn’s eventual return from an ACL injury will shake things up considerably, as could be the case of Nathan Smith from a similar injury.
On defense, the first team line included Rasheem Green, Josh Fatu and Christian Rector. Bigelow’s return from injury could have a major impact in that group, while early enrollee Marlon Tuipulotu will have the chance to push for a place.
Uchenna Nwosu and Oluwole Betiku served as starting outside linebackers, though Betiku is holding a place for Porter Gustin, who will be back soon from offseason surgery.
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Next to returning starter Cameron Smith, John Houston got the first taste of first team reps at inside linebacker as the Trojans look to replace Michael Hutchings.
Iman Marshall’s new partner at cornerback in place of Adoree’ Jackson was Jack Jones with Ajene Harris coming in as the nickelback.
At safety, Chris Hawkins paired with Marvell Tell as expected after the departure of Leon McQuay III.
As injured players return and player performance gains greater weight, the look of USC’s first team should continue to shift, but for now, the depth chart is that little bit more clear than it was a day ago.