USC Football Spring Camp 2018: Time for depth to rise at wide receiver

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

With two returning starters bolstering the wide receiver unit, USC Football will search for a new star in the slot during Spring Camp 2018.

The true depth of USC Football’s receiving corps will be tested in 2018 as the Trojans look to replace Deontay Burnett and Steven Mitchell, while also dealing with the unexpected absence of Joseph Lewis.

How will the Trojans fill the gap left by their leading receiver? Who faces the most pressure to make their mark this season?

Here’s a look at the wide receivers as Spring Camp approaches:

Roster Rundown

Departing (3):Deontay Burnett, Steven Mitchell, Joseph Lewis

Returning (8): *Michael Pittman, Jr.*Tyler Vaughns, RS-So.Jalen Greene, RS-Sr.Randal Grimes, So.Josh Imatorbhebhe, RS-So.Velus Jones Jr. RS-So.Trevon Sidney, RS-So.Keyshawn “Pie” Young, RS-So.

Fall Enrollees (2):Amon-Ra St. Brown, Fr.Devon Williams, Fr.

*Returning starters

Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns return as starters, and two of USC’s four leading receivers from last year, which is a major boost to the unit.

Behind them however, there’s very little game experience to be had. Jalen Greene was USC’s next leading receiver behind Pittman, and he had just eight catches. Randal Grimes, Josh Imatorbhebhe, Velus Jones, Trevon Sidney and Pie Young combined for 13 total catches on the year.

That means this spring is all about figuring out who will step up to support Pittman and Vaughns, filling in the rotation and living up to high expectations.

Biggest Battle

There’s only one starting job up for grabs at wide receiver and this spring the duo of Velus Jones Jr. and Trevon Sidney will battle for it.

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Jones Jr. was preferred to Sidney in 2017, but his role centered mostly around jet sweeps, which were rarely successful. His speed is a difference-maker that USC will want to utilize better this year.

Meanwhile, Sidney showed signs of ability in practice, but never quite broke through for serious playing time. He did have a 23-yard reception against Oregon State, but he’ll have to do more than that to pass Jones Jr. in the lineup.

Player to Watch

Imatorbhebhe wowed with his athletic ability as a recruit, but he hasn’t lived up to his four-star tag in two years at USC. He played in just five games as a redshirt freshman and caught two passes, looking out of his depth thrown into the action against Washington State.

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He’s entering his third year, and while it’s not a make-or-break situation just yet, there should be some signs of progress this offseason.

Will Imatorbhebhe emerge as a viable playmaker this spring?