USC football practice notes: Trojans start fall camp (7/29)

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

The 2017 USC football team kicked off fall camp Saturday at Howard Jones Field. Here’s what went down for the Trojans on Day 1.

USC Football was back in action on Saturday, taking to Howard Jones Field in shorts for the first practice of 2017 fall camp.

Camp started earlier than normal this summer because of new NCAA rules prohibiting two-a-day practices. As a result, the Trojans stretched the schedule into July to accommodate all 29 allotted practices.

Coaches and players didn’t mind the earlier start though with quarterback Sam Darnold, safety Chris Hawkins and linebacker Uchenna Nwosu all echoing the same sentiment — they couldn’t wait to get back to work.

News and Notes

  • Toa Lobendahn and Nico Falah both worked with the first team at center, trading off throughout practice. Both also slid over to tackle — Lobendahn to the left and Falah to the right — as Helton indicated that the two will double train at the two positions.
    • Clayton Johnston was the first team left tackle, but it still a safe bet that one of Lobendahn or Falah will take on that starting role.
    • Viane Talamaivao participated in practice though he has not been fully cleared after offseason elbow surgery. When he came out, Jordan Austin took his place at right guard.
    • Chuma Edoga and Chris Brown held down the right tackle and left guard positions respectively.
  • USC’s wide receiver two-deep featured Deontay Burnett in the slot with Tyler Vaughns and Jalen Greene on the outside. Behind them, the second team line up included Steven Mitchell, Josh Imatorbhebhe and Michael Pittman. Third teamers included Velus Jones, Joseph Lewis and Randal Grimes.
    • Velus Jones and Keyshawn “Pie” Young both showed off their ability with the ball in their hands, making catches on the sideline and cutting upfield.
  • Tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe didn’t finish practice. He has been nursing a tight hamstring since PRPs.
  • Helton was pleased with the attitude of the freshmen experiencing their first official USC practice. Despite being the new kids on the block, the young Trojans fit in just fine with their older counterparts, on a physical level at least.
    • Bubba Bolden took second team reps at safety during the final 11-on-11 period. He looked silky smooth during positional drills.
    • Linebackers Levi Jones and Juliano Falaniko are both listed as dual inside and outside players on USC’s roster, but the two were split up on Day 1. Jones worked with the inside linebackers while Falaniko joined the outside group.
    • Tight end Erik Krommenhoek was a favored target by Jack Sears during 11-on-11. Fellow tight end Josh Falo has filled out noticeably from high school.
    • Lewis had the highlight of practice, drawing cheers from the crowd at Howard Jones Field when he leaped over Jamel Cook to make a diving catch on a 40-yard bomb from Sam Darnold.
    • Neither Lewis nor Randal Grimes look like freshmen. The two could be mistaken for their former jersey holders Darreus Rogers and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
    • Defensive linemen Brandon Pili and Jay Tufele are as big as advertised.

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  • Jamel Cook lined up at cornerback for most of practice with the second team. Iman Marshall and Jack Jones occupied the first team slots with Ajene Harris at the nickel.
    • Jones took advantage of an overthrown pass by Sam Darnold during the 11-on-11 period. Vaughns made a diving attempt at the ball but ended up tipping it up for Jones to snatch out of the air.
    • On the next play, Harris nearly had an interception on a deep Darnold attempt to Burnett, who did just enough to keep the ball out of the defender’s grasp.
    • Earlier in the period, Marshall should have also had an interception on a ball thrown right to him by Darnold, but he dropped it.
  • Despite the interception, Darnold showed off his elite throwing ability on Day 1. He found Burnett with a perfectly weighted pass up the seam, right between a crowd of defenders during 7-on-7.
  • Cameron Smith was paired up with John Houston as first team linebackers. Behind them, Jordan Iosefa and walk-on linebacker Grant Moore worked the middle, which says something about USC’s depth at the position.
  • Defensive lineman Christian Rector tipped a Matt Fink pass at the line of scrimmage during 11-on-11. He occupied a second-team spot on the defensive line along with Josh Fatu. A familiar lineup of Rasheem Green and Marlon Tuipulotu worked with the ones.
    • Kenny Bigelow has a sizable brace on his knee, but he participated in practice.