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USC football talent check: Analyzing the 2018 depth chart by star rating

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
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The depth chart for USC football’s 2018 season includes even more highly-touted talent than last year, with a no rebuilding, only reloading mentality closer than ever.

5 Most Important Trojans for 2018. MORE

It’s been five years since USC football failed to secure a Top 10 recruiting class. As a result, the Trojans 2018 roster has been steadily filled with more and more players of higher and higher caliber.

How has that talent been distributed on the Trojan depth chart?

With the season fast approaching, it’s time for a breakdown of USC’s 2018 two-deep, including star ratings and national recruiting ranks.

Note: All ratings via 247Sports composite. National recruiting ranking in [brackets]

Offense

Wide Receiver:

Tyler Vaughns (RS-So.) ★★★★ [35]Devon Williams (Fr.) ★★★★ [40]

Slot Receiver:

Velus Jones Jr. (RS-So.) ★★★ [465]Trevon Sidney (RS-So.) ★★★★ [143]

Tight End:

Tyler Petite (Sr.) ★★★★ [209]Erik Krommenhoek (So.) ★★★ [567]

F Tight End:

Josh Falo (So.) ★★★★ [143]Daniel Imatorbhebhe (RS-Jr.) ★★★ [603]

Right Tackle:

Chuma Edoga (Sr.) ★★★★★ [27]Jalen McKenzie (RS-Fr.) ★★★ [427]

Right Guard:

Andrew Vorhees (So.) ★★★ [366]Alijah Vera-Tucker (RS-Fr.) ★★★★ [114]

Center:

Toa Lobendahn (RS-Sr.) ★★★★ [131]Brett Neilon (RS-Fr.) ★★★★ [208]

Left Guard:

Chris Brown (RS-Sr.) ★★★★ [232]Jordan Austin (RS-Sr.) ★★★ [1017] ORJacob Daniel (RS-Sr.) ★★★★ [69]

Left Tackle: 

Austin Jackson (So.) ★★★★ [35]Clayton Bradley (RS-Jr.) ★★★★ [327]

Wide Receiver:

Michael Pittman (Jr.) ★★★★ [72]Amon-Ra St. Brown (Fr.) ★★★★★ [11]

Quarterback: 

JT Daniels (Fr.) ★★★★★ [16]Matt Fink (RS-So.) ★★★ [473]

Running Back: 

Aca’Cedric Ware (Jr.) ★★★ [486] ORVavae Malepeai (RS-So.) ★★★★ [225] ORStephen Carr (So.) ★★★★★ [20]

CHECK OUT: 20 Best Three-Star Recruits in USC History

Defense

Predator Linebacker:

Porter Gustin (Sr.) ★★★★ [42]Hunter Echols (RS-Fr.) ★★★★ [134]

Defensive Tackle:

Malik Dorton (RS-Sr.) ★★★ [420]Jay Tufele (RS-Fr.) ★★★★ [39]

Nose Tackle:

Brandon Pili (So.) ★★★ [498] ORMarlon Tuipulotu (RS-Fr.) ★★★★ [60]

Defensive End:

Christian Rector (RS-Jr.) ★★★ [443]Caleb Tremblay (Jr.) ★★★★ [12*] ORConnor Murphy (Jr.) ★★★★ [259]

Strongside Linebacker:

Jordan Iosefa (Jr.) ★★★ [784]Kana’i Mauga (Fr.) ★★★★ [308]

Middle Linebacker:

Cameron Smith (Sr.) ★★★★ [190]Reuben Peters (RS-Sr.) ★★★ [1618]

Weakside Linebacker:

John Houston (RS-Jr.) ★★★★ [50]Levi Jones (So.) ★★★★ [93]

Cornerback:

Iman Marshall (Sr.) ★★★★★ [4]Olaijah Griffin (Fr.) ★★★★★ [28]

Nickelback:

Ajene Harris (RS-Sr.) ★★★ [1497]Jonathan Lockett (RS-Sr.) ★★★★ [191]

Strong Safety:

Bubba Bolden (So.) ★★★★ [59]C.J. Pollard (RS-Fr.) ★★★★ [297] ORTalanoa Hufanga (Fr.) ★★★★ [88]

Free Safety:

Marvell Tell III (Jr.) ★★★★ [61]Isaiah Pola-Mao (RS-Fr.) ★★★★ [113]

Cornerback:

Greg Johnson (RS-Fr.) ★★★★ [102] ORIsaiah Langley (Jr.) ★★★★ [98]

The Trojan two-deep for 2018 boasts six former five-star players to go along with a whopping 32 four-stars. There are 14 three-star prospects in the lineup.

That’s good for an average star rating of 3.8, which aligns with last year’s average.

But that doesn’t mean the Trojans haven’t gotten more talented, insofar as high school ratings are a measure of raw talent.

USC’s average national recruiting ranking across the two-deep increased a fair bit in 2018, now at 272. Last year that average was 296.

THROWBACK: Breaking down USC’s 2017 roster by star rating

It’s a sign of the Trojans exceptional recruiting that they can claim to average a Top 275 recruit in the lineup. It’s not likely many other programs can say that.

The difference is mostly attributed to the sharp increase in national ranking for the offense, which now sits at 229 compared to 308 last year. The arrival of Top 100 recruits like quarterback JT Daniels and receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Devon Williams definitely has an impact on paper.

On defense, the average dipped slightly to 299 compared to 285 in 2017. The loss of cornerback Jack Jones contributed to that slip.

Once again, it’s clear USC’s roster is loaded with talent. Even though the Trojans saw departures from Sam Darnold, Ronald Jones II, Deontay Burnett, Uchenna Nwosu and Rasheem Green, the cupboard is never truly bare.

TRENDING: Crash course on USC’s 2018 depth chart

During the Pete Carroll era, the saying was “USC doesn’t rebuild, it reloads.” Thanks to a slew of Top 10 recruiting classes stocking up this current team, the Trojans are closer and closer to living up to that slogan.

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