USC Football Spring Camp 2018: Previewing the offensive line

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

USC Football returns four offensive line starters for 2018, with the Spring Camp battle at left tackle taking center stage up front.

The USC Football offensive line had it’s ups and downs in 2017, ending on a sour note against Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl.

This offseason, the line won’t experience much turnover, which means the spring offers an opportunity to refine rather than reload.

Here’s a look at the Trojan front going into Spring Camp:

Roster Rundown

Departing (3):Nico Falah, Viane Talamaivao, Cole Smith, Roy Hemsley

Returning (8): *C Toa Lobendahn, RS-Sr.*OG Chris Brown, RS-Sr.*OG Chuma Edoga, Sr.*OG Andrew Vorhees, So.OT Austin Jackson, So.OT Clayton Johnston, RS-Jr.OT Nathan Smith, RS-So.OT-OG Jalen McKenzie, RS-Fr.OT-OG Alijah Vera-Tucker, RS-Fr.OG Jordan Austin, RS-Sr.OG Jacob Daniel, RS-Jr.OG Frank Martin, RS-So.C Brett Neilon, RS-Fr.

Spring Enrollees (1):Justin Dedich, Fr.

Fall Enrollees (1):Liam Douglass, Fr.

*Returning starters

Despite losing two veterans on the offensive line, USC actually brings back four full-time starters from the 2017 season—albeit shuffled a bit.

Toa Lobendahn is expected to move from left tackle back to center this spring, replacing Nico Falah in that spot. With Chuma Edoga opting to play his senior season, plus the return of guards Andrew Vorhees and Chris Brown, there’s only one spot to fill on the line.

More from Reign of Troy

That new starter will come from a pool mixed with veteran backups and promising young players. Tackles include Clayton Johnson, Austin Jackson, Nathan Smith, Alijah Vera-Tucker and Jalen McKenzie.

There may not be a guard opening but Jordan Austin, converted defensive tackle Jacob Daniel and Frank Martin will vie for backup spots along with spring enrollee Justin Dedich.

Biggest Battle

The battle for the startling left tackle job should involve Johnston and Jackson, who went back and forth for the right to backup both Lobendahn and Edoga last year. Returning from an ACL injury, Nathan Smith could also make a run at the top, but that’ll have to be seen.

Johnston started three games in 2017, once on the left and twice on the right, but Jackson is the more highly-touted of the two.

This one could go back and forth well beyond the spring, but one could gain an edge early and end it.

Player to Watch

In 2017, Andrew Vorhees arrived in the spring and made a big impression early. That successful spring set him up for a starting role in the fall.

This year USC has another spring enrollee looking to get off to a fast start: Justin Dedich.

Dedich arrives with more fanfare than Vorhees, but that just means more eyes will be on him to track his progress.

TRENDING: Stephen Carr to Miss Spring Camp

As a center, there won’t actually be much of a chance for Dedich to break into the lineup, but he does have the potential to try his hand at guard. Positional intrigue is yet another reason to keep a watch out for the newest Trojan lineman.