Which USC football players took a redshirt in 2018? The Trojans played many true freshmen, but took full advantage of new rules to maintain eligibility.
USC football was navigating unknown waters this season after the NCAA instituted new rules allowing players to participate in up to four games while saving their redshirt eligibility.
How did the Trojans navigate the new rules? They appeared to take full advantage of the change.
Based on participation records available online, USC had 19 players take a redshirt in 2018, though many of them were not freshmen.
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Of the Trojans’ 17 scholarship freshmen in the class of 2018, eight burned their redshirts. That number includes starters like quarterback JT Daniels, linebacker Palaie Gaoteote, cornerback Olaijah Griffin, safety Talanoa Hufanga and wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, as well as contributors like outside linebacker Kana’i Mauga, inside linebacker Raymond Scott and wide receiver Devon Williams.
Non-scholarship kicker Alex Stadhaus also burned his redshirt handling kickoff duties in 2018.
Only three freshmen—offensive tackle Liam Douglass, linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu and defensive tackle Trevor Trout—maintained an old-fashioned redshirt, appearing in no games in 2018. Douglass and Trout were designated early on for scout team duty while Tuliaupupu spent the season recovering from a foot injury.
Six more true freshman saw brief action in 2018, but will go into the 2019 season as redshirt freshmen, including center Justin Dedich, linebackers Abdul-Malik McClain and Eli’jah Winston, running back Markese Stepp, cornerback Isaac Taylor Stuart and defensive back Chase Williams.
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Many of those names will be familiar to fans who watched the Trojans closely this season. Dedich had a cameo as a jumbo-set fullback against UNLV while Winston had a memorable special teams hit during the Oregon State game. Stepp and McClain saw some late action in the Notre Dame game. Williams actually started the season finale at safety thanks to a rash of injuries at the position. Taylor-Stuart might have seen more than special teams duty had he not hurt his ankle and missed much of the middle of the season injured.
The new redshirt rules may have actually had their biggest impact on non-freshmen in 2018 as the Trojans took the opportunity to apparently redshirt a number of players with years already under their belt.
Juniors like linebacker Oluwole Betiku, linebacker Connor Murphy and defensive lineman Caleb Tremblay each got a year of eligibility back in their possession. Betiku missed the entire season while recovering from a hip problem while Murphy played in just four games and Tremblay featured three times before injury took him out of the lineup.
Sophomore linebacker Juliano Falaniko, wide receiver Randal Grimes and kicker Chase McGrath also made it under the cut. Falaniko played four games scattered through the season. Grimes was shut down to focus on academics after three games of action. McGrath tore his ACL in Week 3 against Texas.
Redshirt Games Played Tracker
USC’s official redshirt count will be made clear when the Trojans release their spring football roster.