USC Football Fall Camp: Trojan receiver rotation coming into focus

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

USC football’s receiving rotation is coming into focus after six days of Fall Camp action, with freshman Amon-Ra St. Brown turning heads.

Fall Camp. QBs Thrive on Day 6

Watching USC football’s sixth practice of Fall Camp at the Coliseum on Thursday, you wouldn’t think the Trojans were in the process of replacing two of their top three leading receivers from 2017.

The receiving corps is oddly settled after just a week of camp action. Tyler Vaughns has stepped into Deontay Burnett’s shoes with the same quiet confidence as the now-Tennessee Titan receiver. Opposite Vaughns, Michael Pittman looks like the sure-fire starter he’s been expected to become.

There’s no question who USC’s top two receivers are for 2018, and a potential third is already coming into focus.

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Mater Dei’s Amon-Ra St. Brown has been heavily involved in the passing game since he first suited up in cardinal and gold a week ago. He passed the latest test on Thursday during his first practice inside the Coliseum.

“Usually you walk in here and you see the freshmen and they’re all big-eyed and sometimes it’s too big for them right now,” head coach Clay Helton said, eager to see how his young receivers adjusted to judging balls in the stadium as opposed to the practice field. “Amon-Ra walked in here and it’s like he’s played here for ten years.”

St. Brown caught a deep touchdown pass from Jack Sears as the highlight of the day. Later, he stretched out for another long attempt from JT Daniels, very nearly hauling in what would have been the highlight of camp.

A week ago, Helton and offensive coordinator compared St. Brown’s versatile skill set to that of Robert Woods and other Trojan wide outs who could play across every position, not pigeonholed outside or in the slot.

Now, they’re comparing him to Woods for another reason: that mentality that allows a freshman to step right into the lineup from Day 1.

“He works hard,” Martin said. “He’s very serious about his preparation. Things are coming pretty quickly for him. He’s learning it fast…He’s special.”

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St. Brown is the flashy newcomer who Trojan fans can look forward to seeing in the Coliseum this fall, but there is more to USC’s receiving corps to be encouraged by.

“We’re pretty deep there,” said Martin.

That depth includes some already familiar faces looking to increase their involvement in 2018.

In the slot, Velus Jones Jr. has made “huge strides,” according to Helton, while Trevon Sidney is “coming along.”

On the outside, Josh Imatorbhebhe had his best day so far, shining in 1v1s and making plays in 11-on-11. He’ll have even more opportunities to make an impression with Pittman likely to miss some time with an AC shoulder sprain.

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Another freshman, Devon Williams, may also be in contention for some Year 1 playing time with a size-to-speed ratio Martin termed “unbelievable.”