USC Football: Big receivers Tyler Vaughns, Michael Pittman have “little man skills”

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

Clay Helton credits Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman for being “big men” with “little man skills” bolstering USC Football’s receiving corps for 2018.

USC Football has a load of questions to answer on offense this year after losing their leading passer, rusher and receiver from 2017. The Trojans do have a couple of sure things to build around in the passing game.

At 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-4 respectively, Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman are potential mismatch nightmares for USC Football at receiver.

They were already creating those problems for opposing defenses in 2017. Though it took him a month to break into the starting lineup, Vaughns emerged as USC’s second-leading receiver with 809 yards and five touchdowns on 57 catches.

It took Pittman even longer to command a starting role, in part because of Fall Camp ankle injury, but he eventually led USC with a 17.6 yards per catch average with 404 yards on 23 receptions.

Both will be looking to expand their influence in 2018 and early signs in Spring Camp suggest they’re well on their way.

From Day 1, Vaughns appears to have picked up right where Deontay Burnett left off as USC’s most visible and reliable receiver. Whether Matt Fink or Jack Sears has thrown the passes, Vaughns has delivered by being in the right place in the right time, every time.

Pittman has flashed as well, using his size to shield the ball when making catches on the inside or his length to play above the rim on the outside.

Head coach Helton says it’s more than just height that gives Vaughns and Pittman an edge though.

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“What I love about both guys is they’re big men but they have little man skills,” Helton said on Friday after USC’s third practice of Spring Camp.

“They have the ability to transition. You see those guys glide in and out of cuts with ease,” Helton said.

Cornerback Isaiah Langley found that out the hard way on Friday during the 1v1 portion when Vaughns sent him the wrong way on a nasty cut to the outside, eliciting oohs and aahs from the crowd of onlookers at Howard Jones Field.

“I think that’s what makes both of them truly special. They have the size to dominate you physically, but they really have the transition skills to be able to run correct routes as well as make yards after contact,” Helton said.

PRACTICE NOTES: Tough Outing for Matt Fink on Day 3

With Vaughns and Pittman firmly entrenched as returning starters, USC’s passing attack has a strong foundation for 2018. The Trojans just have to find a quarterback to get the ball to them.