USC Football: Notes and tidbits from the 2018 Media Guide

Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images /

USC football released the 2018 Media Guide on Tuesday, with notes and tidbits on returning starters, player positions, numbers, record books and more.

The arrival of the 2018 USC Football Media Guide is more proof of the quickly approaching return of college football.

On Tuesday, the Trojans offered some informational snacks to munch on with a media guide emblazoned with head coach Clay Helton, flanked by linebacker Cameron Smith, safety Marvell Tell, linebacker Porter Gustin, cornerback Iman Marshall, nickelback Ajene Harris and center Toa Lobendahn.

That cover alone says quite a bit about the 2018 team: It’s all about the seniors and the defense.

Every player put out front in this year’s media guide is in their final campaign, many of them returning somewhat unexpectedly. And five of the six represent the defense, only Lobendahn standing on offense.

Here’s more observations from the media guide…

Returning starters

  • Offense (7): WR Tyler Vaughns, WR Michael Pittman, TE Tyler Petite, C Toa Lobendahn, OG Chris Brown, OT Chuma Edoga, OG Andrew Vorhees
  • Defense (7): LB Cameron Smith, LB John Houston, S Marvell Tell, CB Iman Marshall, DE Christian Rector, LB Jordan Iosefa, CB Ajene Harris
  • Special Teams (2): K Chase McGrath, P Reid Budrovich
  • Others with starting experience (13): HLD Wyatt Schmidt, LB Porter Gustin, SNP Damon Johnson, TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe, CB Jonathan Lockett, CB Isaiah Langley, DT Malik Dorton, OT Clayton Johnston, DT Brandon Pili, RB Stephen Carr, DT Marlon Tuipulotu, DE Connor Murphy, TE Erik Krommenhoek

Players with multiple positions

  • Dominic Davis TB-CB
  • Reuben Peters ILB-FB
  • Toa Lobendahn C-OT
  • Alijah Vera-Tucker OG-OT
  • Andrew Vorhees OG-OT
  • Jordan Iosefa ILB-OLB
  • Levi Jones ILB-OLB

With one or two exceptions, the hyphenated positions for this year’s roster largely signal versatility rather than question marks around fit.

Lobendahn is a center, Vera Tucker and Vorhees are guards, but all three could help bolster an otherwise thin picture at tackle if needed.

Iosefa looks fairly settled at outside linebacker, unless injuries on the inside prompt a shift back, where a starting job would likely await him. Jones, by contrast, may simply be caught in the middle of the two skillsets.

Dominic Davis is one just exception, having switched from running back to cornerback last year, only to see the defensive position fill up. The offensive spot was sufficiently hit by injury during the spring for Davis to return for a stretch in the backfield. It’s not entirely clear where he’ll end up in the end, though there does finally seem to be more opportunity for playing time at running back.

It’s worth noting, Keyshawn “Pie” Young isn’t among those players with multiple positions. Now solely listed as a wide receiver, he had spent time at cornerback.


“We do not believe in staying comfortable or staying stagnant. We are always looking to improve and move forward.” — Clay Helton

“The spring was an important time for the quarterback position as far as their education went, so we used the spring to educate and not evaluate.” — Clay Helton

“I expect our tight ends to now become an even bigger part of our offensive system.” — Clay Helton

“Our defense can carry our team this year. Defense wins championships and this is a group that can accomplish that.” — Clay Helton


  • Palaie Gaoteote: pa-la-EE-ae nah-OE-tay-OE-tay
  • Talanoa Hufanga: tal-uh-NOE-uh who-FAWN-guh
  • Kana’i Mauga: kuh-NYE-ee MOW-guh
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown: AW-mun-raw SAYNT BROWN
  • Solomon Tuliapupu: SAUL-uh-mun too-lee-ow-POO-poo

By the numbers

As expected, redshirt frehsman Isaiah Pola-Mao will wear No. 21, with incoming freshman corner Isaac Taylor-Stuart sporting No. 6.

USC has  22 seniors, 17 juniors, 26 sophomores and 34 freshmen

Players from California number 64. There are four Trojans from Texas, three each from Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Utah. There are duos from Florida and Illinois, while there are single representatives from Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Australia, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nigeria and Wisconsin.

The No. 42 jersey is now tied with the No. 2 and No. 71 for the most All-American wearers in USC history. Five Trojan All-Americans have worn each.

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For the record books

  • Ronald Jones II sits fifth on USC’s all-time rushing chart. His 2017 production ranks eighth on the single-season chart.
  • Sam Darnold finished seventh on the career passing and career total offense charts. His 2017 season ranks fifth all-time on the single-season passing chart and first in single-season total offense.
  • Deontay Burnett and Steven Mitchell Jr. appear at 14th and 25th respectively on USC’s all-time receiving chart. Burnett’s 2017 campaign was good for ninth all-time.
  • Velus Jones Jr. ranks 12th in kickoff return yardage at USC. He is the only active Trojan in the Trojan record books this year.
  • The 2017 defense was the first in Trojan history to lead the nation in sacks, posting 46.


  • USC’s “Dramatic Finishes” section has two new additions: the 27-24 overtime victory against Texas and the 28-27 win over Utah in 2017. On the losing side of things, the media guide also mention’s Washington State’s 31-27 victory against the Trojans in Pullman.
  • USC is now 4-6 in overtime games, thanks to the aforementioned win the the Coliseum. Chase McGrath’s game-winner from 24 yards out also features in USC’s “Last Minute Game-WInning Field Goal” section.