What can the Trojans expect from cornerbacks in 2017? Are there too many tight ends? RoT’s USC Football mailbag is after the answers.
USC Football is in a golden age of cornerback recruiting, but after the success of Thorpe Award winner Adoree’ Jackson, where will the Trojans go from here?
Speaking of recruiting, the tight end position has also experienced a rebirth at USC. But is the growing crowd a growing concern?
Those are just some of the questions, now let’s get to the answers…
Q: Can Biggie finally get the credit for being an elite corner that he is now that he is out of the shadow of Adoree? — @dgeske
A: The better question might be, is Iman Marshall an elite corner?
It was certainly difficult for Marshall to enjoy the spotlight while Adoree’ Jackson was out there winning the Thorpe Award in 2016, but he still has to prove himself as the No. 1 guy.
Marshall had three interceptions and eight deflections as a sophomore, en route to a Campus Insiders’ Sophomore All-American honorable mention and an All-Pac-12 honorable mention.
It was a solid season that hinted at greater things to come, potentially elite things. But it still hinged on potential.
Either way, with Jackson out of the picture, Marshall will definitely get more credit. It’s especially worth noting that departures across the Pac-12 put Marshall firmly at the top of the food chain when it comes to corners in the conference.
He has the ability. He’ll have the platform. It’s now on him to continue climbing the ladder.
Q: Jack Jones, a player who may knock the crap out of someone, or be so far out of position it’s an easy TD. What’s your thoughts about him? — @sunger4222
A: Jack Jones is precisely the player described, which should give USC fans some pause.
There’s no doubting Jones’ athleticism, but his mental grasp of the game was found wanting several times during his freshman season. His positioning was a particular concern during the Rose Bowl.
To be fair to Jones, it’s not easy being a true freshman corner in an aggressive system that puts so much on the shoulders of its defensive backs. It’s reasonable to expect him to make major strides this offseason as he gets a better handle on his role.
As USC’s probable No. 2 corner, he’ll definitely need to though.
It should be encouraging, however, that Jones is essentially in the same position as Marshall was entering the 2016 season.
As much as Marshall’s ability to be elite remains a question, he at least has reached a reliable level as a Trojan. Even if he can’t fill Jackson’s shoes, he should provide a steady foundation for USC’s cornerback group.
With Jones, the highs and the lows still feel like extremes. Steadying that out will be key in 2017.
Q: I [heart] TE as much as anyone but @ what point do we have too many? Will be like RBs where you have to sub just for PT? — @dgeske
A: Depth has been such an issue for the Trojans at tight end in the past, that it might be easy to think of ideal depth as too much depth.
USC currently has five tight ends on the roster, which barely fills the two-deep if the Trojans plan to make regular use of two-tight end sets.
The top two guys in the pecking order –Tyler Petite and Daniel Imatorbhebhe– are both eligible for the NFL after the 2017 season. Behind them, Cary Angeline is as exciting a prospect at the position as USC has had in years, but he’ll get plenty of reps as the No. 3 in line this year. That’ll give Josh Falo and Erik Krommenhoek time to develop.
CHECK OUT: 5 Most Irreplaceable Trojans for 2017
Having accepted the commitment of four-star Long Beach Poly TE Camren McDonald, USC will be in decent position if Petite and Imatorbhebhe both leave next year. If one stays, the Trojans will still be in great shape. If both stay, USC’s tight end group will be crowded, but in the best of ways.
More from Reign of Troy
- Markese Stepp enters transfer portal intending to leave USC football
- USC football’s Alijah Vera-Tucker declares for NFL Draft
- USC football adds Xavion Alford as transfer from Texas
- USC Podcast: RoT Radio Ep. 396 on the Football Season’s Fallout
- Talanoa Hufanga named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, USC football with five first-teamers
Q: USC basketball is going to be really good this season. Does that mean it is OK if the CFB squad stinks? — @JosephNardone
A: Let’s face it, USC is a football school. The basketball team could win the national title –what a thought that is– and it would still matter less than USC Football’s standing in 2017.
That might seem harsh, but nothing could make up for a disappointing showing from the football team, especially considering all the talent the Trojans will field this year.
What the basketball team achieves will provide its own adventure.