The injury bug has bitten the USC football program, with freshman linebacker Tayler Katoa being the first Trojan lost to season-long injury.
USC football head coach Clay Helton announced Saturday that inside linebacker Tayler Katoa will miss the upcoming 2017 season due to a torn ligament in his knee. The freshman went down early in Thursday’s practice and had an MRI on Friday.
The injury will require surgery, which should keep Katoa out for nine months.
Katoa got to Troy in January as one of five early enrollees, and had been steadily adapting to the college game while seeing time at weakside inside linebacker (WILL) behind the likes of John Houston and Jordan Iosefa. Just a week ago, he recovered a fumble in the Trojans’ first spring scrimmage.
While it wasn’t likely Katoa would have been a major contributor as a true freshman in 2017, his injury is a significant setback for a linebacker corps lacking experience apart from Cam Smith. Given Smith’s eligibility for the 2018 NFL Draft, USC needs all hands on deck going forward. A full year of training would’ve done wonders for a recently converted quarterback.
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Katoa, a three-star athlete in the 247Sports Composite, stuck at linebacker after originally being recruited by multiple schools as a quarterback. He ultimately picked the Trojans in December over in-state powers Utah and BYU.
For USC, the contingency play without Katoa in 2017 relies on getting the most out of Houston and Iosefa, along with incoming freshman Levi Jones, who won’t land on campus until the summer.
The Trojans lost several players to ACL tears last season, including starters Toa Lobendahn, Steven Mitchell and Kenny Bigelow.