USC Football Spring Camp: Chris Brown, Roy Hemsley Swap Places

Offensive lineman Chris Brown at USC football practice on Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
Offensive lineman Chris Brown at USC football practice on Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

USC football continues to shake up the offensive line during spring camp 2017, with Chris Brown and Roy Hemsley swapping places at guard and tackle.

Despite Nico Falah’s absence due to injury and Toa Lobendahn’s impending return from ACL surgery, USC football’s offensive line had just begun to feel fairly settled.

Chuma Edoga appears entrenched at left tackle, Cole Smith has admirably held Falah’s place at center, and Viane Talamaivao has been steady as ever at right guard. At the two positions with the greatest question marks — left guard and right tackle — Chris Brown and Roy Hemsley had been going to work.

So, of course, on Tuesday, that all changed.

Brown and Hemsley traded places for USC’s seventh practice of spring, further clouding predictions for the future of the Trojan line.

“We’re really trying to find the best combination,” head coach Clay Helton said after Tuesday’s practice.

Though Hemsley started spring practice at right tackle and Brown at left guard, Helton said the plan was always to flip their positions halfway through camp with an eye towards seeing who fit best where.

“We got through the first scrimmage, now we’ll take the next six practices and hold form here,” said Helton. “Let Roy play left guard, let Chris play right tackle and see how they execute. Just find the perfect match.”

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After an earlier practice, Helton praised Hemsley’s athleticism, but noted the redshirt sophomore needed to build consistency with his technique and fundamentals.

Brown has been a consistent contributor on the offensive line over the past two seasons, but he has never consistently held down a starting job.

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Both are looking to add that steady reliability to their game.

Of course, that’s not an easy task with changing positions on different sides of the line. It’s a challenge they each face.

“You feel a different orientation. It’s not quite the same,” Brown said of swapping sides. “You just have to work at it.”

Brown said Tuesday, it wasn’t the move from left to right which presented the greatest test. It was changing from guard to tackle, from battling with big, strong defensive tackles to quick, agile outside linebackers.

Over the first six practices, Hemsley dealt with those speedy rushers on the edge but his biggest hurdle was adjusting his stance and dominant hand for the right — a side he had never played on before this year.

He’s back on the left now, but at guard — another challenge requiring adjustments.

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Before the switch, Hemsley said he’d be ready to put in the work on either side and in either position.

“Whatever the coaches feel works best for me,” Hemsley said. “I obviously prefer tackle, but at the end of the day, whatever gets me on the field is what I’ll play.”