USC Football Roster 2018: Position changes and takeaways

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

USC Football’s 2018 roster features a major position change for Connor Murphy, a non-change for Iman Marshall and other noteworthy takeaways.

With USC Football Spring Camp kicking off on Tuesday, the Trojans released the new roster and spring guide on Monday.

Clay Helton’s squad will be looking to repeat as Pac-12 Champions in 2018, with some notable changes to the lineup.

What are some of the big takeaways from USC’s Spring Camp media guide?

Connor Murphy, defensive lineman

There aren’t many position changes to report from this year’s roster, but the one switch is a big one.

Connor Murphy is now a former outside linebacker having shifted inside to become a defensive lineman.

Murphy worked behind Porter Gustin at the Predator linebacker position in 2017 but he didn’t see much playing time there, even when Gustin went down injured.

At 6-foot-7, 260 pounds, Murphy always seemed a bit oversized for the outside, so the decision to make him a lineman makes plenty of sense. The question is how quickly he’ll be able to convert, and if he now may face the challenge of being undersized.

Iman Marshall, cornerback?

Iman Marshall is entering his fourth year as a cornerback for the Trojans and for the fourth year talk has swirled of a potential move to safety. Will it finally happen this spring?

The clues within the spring guide say no.

“The physical, veteran Marshall returns for his fourth year as a starting cornerback as a senior in 2018,” the guide reads.

Does that mean Marshall definitely won’t be tried out at safety? No. He could turn up on the first day of camp and lineup with the safeties, but for now, he remains a cornerback.

Where will they line up?

Marshall isn’t the only Trojan with question marks on his position. Dominic Davis will be another one to watch out for this spring.

After spending three years at running back with little actual run, Davis switched over to cornerback and redshirted while settling into the position.

However, with Ronald Jones II heading for the pros early and Stephen Carr out for spring practice with a back injury, the running back position suddenly looks quite thin. The Trojans only have two scholarship backs to work with this spring: Aca’Cedric Ware and Vavae Malepeai.

With that in mind, it’s worth noting how Davis is listed as a cornerback-tailback.

In his official bio, USC notes that Davis “will look to see action at cornerback as a junior in 2018,” but add that “he also might be used at tailback.”

Outside or inside?

Sorting out USC’s depth chart at linebacker is practically impossible with all of the new faces set to join up this fall, but for the spring the confusion comes from the vague positioning for two key figures.

Jordan Iosefa and Levi Jones could both contend for starting jobs at either strongside linebacker, replacing Uchenna Nwosu, or weakside, pushing incumbent John Houston from behind. But it’s not clear which will do so at which position.

The media guide offers no clarity.

The two are listed on the new roster at inside and outside and each has received double training to function at either spot.

“We don’t have to name a starter in spring.”

When discussing the quarterback position this spring, the media guide features a telling quote from head coach Clay Helton.

“We don’t have to name a starter in the spring,” Helton saids. “After losing a great quarterback like Sam, we have some talented young quarterbacks who will need to use the spring to take the next step to prepare for the 2018 season.”

Matt Fink and Jack Sears will do their best to position themselves ahead of a fierce Fall Camp battle for the starting job, but don’t expect a decision by the end of spring.

More tight ends?

Another quote from Helton worth noting: “I expect our tight ends to now become an even bigger part of our offensive system.”

That’s in reference to the veteran leadership and experience possessed by returning starters Tyler Petite and Daniel Imatorbhebhe.

But it’ll be believed when it’s seen.


  • Freshman center Justin Dedich is indeed listed as a center. He does have the skillset to play guard, but it seems USC will wait before opening that possibility.
  • Toa Lobendahn is listed as a center-offensive tackle, though he remains the favorite to take over for Nico Falah in the middle.
  • Alijah Vera-Tucker and Jalen McKenzie both redshirted last year but they’ll be looking to break into the lineup sooner than later. The spring guide offers a hint as to their future roles. Vera-Tucker has the dual billing of guard and offensive tackle. McKenzie is only listed as a tackle.
  • Keyshawn “Pie” Young may be listed as a WR-CB, but he’s only mentioned in the wide receiver section of the spring guide, not with the defensive backs.
  • Walk-on quarterback Thomas FItts will also work as a reserve placekicker.
  • Fullback Reuben Peters may see time at linebacker, which was his original position.