USC Football: Freshmen have right attitude, approach for fall camp

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

Experiencing their first day of fall camp, USC Football’s freshman class left a strong impression on veterans and coaches.

USC Football’s 2017 freshman class wasted no time impressing veteran Trojans and coaches, making it through Day 1 of fall camp with the right attitude and approach.

“They just came out and they shut up and just worked. They came out here with a humble attitude, an attitude that they want to show what can do. I was really impressed by them,” head coach Clay Helton of his freshman class on Saturday.

The newest Trojans took to Howard Jones Field like they belonged there. Physically, they stood out for not standing out. Standing next to sophomores, juniors and even seniors, they looked the part.

Most importantly, they acted the part.

“They’re good. They like to listen. They’re work horses. They work hard. They’re prepared to work,” Uchenna Nwosu rattled off praise for the freshmen outside linebackers Hunter Echols and Juliano Falaniko. “They don’t talk back. They’re disciplined. They’re not selfish. They’re good competitors.”

The most noticeable freshmen for Helton were obvious choices — it’s tough to miss 300-pound defensive tackles like Jay Tufele and Brandon Pili. Along with early enrollee Marlon Tuipulotu and defensive end Jacob Lichtenstein, Helton said the addition of the 2017 class made a big difference for the defensive line.

“All of the sudden it went from [having] dwindling numbers to wow we’re three, almost four, deep.”

The advantage of additional depth doesn’t just end with the bolstered depth chart.

More young players can mean less reps for veterans, but that doesn’t mean those players get to sit back. All over the field, older Trojans took their younger teammates under their wing.

Helton singled out Jalen Greene for his work with the young receivers and tight ends Tyler Petite and Daniel Imatorbhebhe for shepherding Josh Falo and Erik Krommenhoek.

SEE MORE: 5 Most Important Trojan Freshmen For 2017

“You want your older guys to really coach up those young guys when they’re not in and that’s how you stay mentally engaged,” Helton said.

USC’s senior leaders on defense take that aspect of practice seriously.

“My job as an old guy, as one of the premiere vets on this team, is to acclimate the freshmen,” safety Chris Hawkins said.

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Linebacker Uchenna Nwosu remembers the advice he got as a freshman, “Stay patient and get in your playbook as much as you can. Talk to these coaches. Get help from everyone. Don’t be afraid to ask. No question is a stupid question. Learn fast and you’ll be alright.”

Now Nwosu is one of the more vocal leaders on the team and he spent much of Saturday talking the young players at his position through drills.

“You’ve got to know when to be vocal. You’ve got to know when to lead by example,” Nwosu said. “Today being their first day, I felt like I had to be very vocal with them.”

The Trojan freshmen have a long way to go before they’ll see the field for USC, but they passed their first test on Saturday.

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“Obviously, it was just jersey and helmet, but we’ll see when the pads get on. For opening day I’m very pleased,” Helton said.