USC football had seven freshmen play their fifth game of the season against Arizona, officially burning their redshirts.
With new redshirt rules allowing players to play up to four games while still keeping their redshirt eligibility, Week 5 was a big week on the eligibility front.
USC football played eight freshmen against Arizona, burning seven redshirts officially. Those seven included few surprises. Quarterback JT Daniels, cornerback Olaijah Griffin, safety Talanoa Hufanga, outside linebacker Kana’i Mauga, inside linebacker Raymond Scott and receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and Devon Williams were in that number.
The eighth participant? Linebacker Palaie Gaoteote, who notched his third game of action. Since he missed the first two weeks with injury, it looks like he is well on his way to joining the ranks of true freshmen whose eligibility will not be spared this season.
Here’s how the redshirt tracker stands after five weeks of action:
Redshirt Games Played Tracker
Though nearly every freshman who saw their redshirt burned was no surprise, there may be a touch of misfortune around Scott’s situation.
The linebacker has seen action almost exclusively on special teams, but broke his hand against the Wildcats. The Trojans could opt to play him through that injury with a cast, but it is not clear what the plan is just yet. Last year, Christian Rector sat out two games with a broken hand.
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Receiver Randal Grimes missed the opportunity to redshirt last year because of a broken hand himself. Having played just one game so far in 2018, he could be on his way to getting that year of eligibility back.
Injury may play a role in cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart’s future as well. After playing the first three games of the season, he was a scratch against Washington State and didn’t travel with the team to Arizona after suffering a “severe” ankle sprain. That injury should keep him out multiple weeks. When he returns healthy, the Trojans could play him once without burning the redshirt, but a decision will have to be made.
Safety Chase Williams could be another intriguing case to follow. Moved from cornerback to nickelback to safety, the true freshman is in the process of settling in at his new position.
Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast indicated on Wednesday he is willing to keep starters Marvell Tell and Talanoa Hufanga on the field as long as they are needed, so there seems to be no rush to introduce Williams into the rotation. With three games of participation under his belt, there is the slightest wiggle room to use him in case of emergency, but a redshirt could still be on the cards.