Stephen Carr and John Houston stand out as wildcards for the Trojans, but there are more where that came from. Here’s the USC football roundup for June 27.
On Wednesday, Kyle Kensing of Athlon Sports proposed the offensive and defensive wildcards for each squad in the Pac-12.
That opened an interesting line of thought: Maybe the big issue for USC football in 2018 is just how many players could qualify as wildcards?
Kensing’s two include running back Stephen Carr and linebacker John Houston. Those are strong picks for a couple different reasons. Carr’s ability to replace Ronald Jones II will be a critical factor to USC’s success. His spring back surgery clouds the picture even more.
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Houston, meanwhile, was a heralded recruit who took long enough to break through that expectations for him may have been forgotten. If he rises to match Cameron Smith’s presence at inside linebacker, the Trojan defense could really be something.
But those two aren’t the only completely valid wildcard choices.
JT Daniels, or whichever quarterback ultimately wins the job, is a massive wildcard. So is Porter Gustin, whose injuries last season delayed finding out if he could match Uchenna Nwosu’s All-American rise.
In the middle of the defense, Marlon Tuipulotu counts as well. He’d won a starting job over the veteran Josh Fatu before back surgery ended his season. Brandon Pili jumped on the opportunity to contribute as a freshman, but it still remains that Tuipulotu was the most promising young lineman of the bunch last Fall Camp. Can he get back to that point?
Tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe could deserve a mention, especially considering his own injury troubles last year.
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That’s not to mention center Toa Lobendahn, safety Bubba Bolden, cornerback Jonathan Lockett and others.
If USC had more sure things, prospects for the 2018 season would be that much more clear. Of course, every wildcard is a potential star. It just depends on how you look at the potential of the squad.
Most underrated Trojan
ESPN set out to name the most underrated player on each Top 25 team in 2018, with Lobendahn getting the nod for USC.
That’s a decent shout, as Lobendahn is an immensely experienced player who will be finally playing his natural position at center.
Who else could have warranted the recognition? Considering the lack of buzz in national circles that Tyler Vaughns seems to be getting, he’s a worthy candidate.
Or maybe it’s safety Marvell Tell, who will be a senior and in prime position for an All-American run.
Today’s Trojan Trivia
The last Trojan to lead the nation in sacks was now-defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze with 16.5 in 2003.