Cameron Smith, Toa Lobendahn and Marvell Tell were included in the preseason All-American squad compiled by Athlon Sports.
Big things are expected of a trio of USC football players in 2018, at least when it comes to All-American honors.
On Tuesday, Athlon Sports released their preseason All-Americans with Trojan linebacker Cameron Smith headlining as a first team selection. Toa Lobendahn was named the second-team center while safety Marvell Tell made it into the fourth team.
USC’s Pac-12 rivals combined for the fourth-most overall selections, but the conference topped all others with eight first teamers to the SEC’s five.
Stanford’s Bryce Love came first among the running backs while Washington’s Myles Gaskin was the top all-purpose back. On defense, Oregon’s Troy Dye joined Smith among first team linebackers with Washington corner Byron Murphy and safety Taylor Rapp also representing. Utah swept the first team kickers with place kicker Matt Gay and punter Mitch Wishnowsky.
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Smith, Lobendahn and Tell represent the senior talent which should help the Trojans transition out of the Sam Darnold era and into the unknown at quarterback.
For his part, Smith took a major step toward potentially ending up USC’s All-American Walk with a unanimous Midseason All-American selection from CBSSports.com. He’ll be looking to pull off the full season honors as a senior. He’s already led the Trojans in tackles over the last two seasons and there’s optimism that his second year at middle linebacker in Clancy Pendergast’s system will yield even better results.
Lobendahn is arguably a more intriguing selection in the second team. He was an All-Pac-12 second team pick at left tackle in 2017, but he’ll be lining up at center in 2018. The perception that his most natural position is in the middle of the line no doubt contributes to this level of preseason accolade. But he’ll have to prove he’s worthy of it after his past two forays at center were cut short by injury.
Tell certainly had All-American potential when he arrived at USC as a top recruit back in 2015. It took him a couple years to settle into his role but things really started to come together in 2017 as he was named an All-Pac-12 first teamer. If his trajectory remains the same, he could make his claim as one of the top safeties nationally.
If there’s a snub from USC it’s outside linebacker Porter Gustin, whose injury woes got in the way of his All-American pursuit alongside Uchenna Nwosu last year. His return as a senior makes him as likely as any other Trojan to earn plaque on the wall.