USC football Spring Camp notes: Greg Johnson returns (3/7)

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

Practice standouts

  • John Jackson III… The grayshirt wide receiver may have had his number called on Thursday more times than any other pass catcher, particularly during 11-on-11 play.
  • Raymond Scott… Scott is still adjusting to his position change at nickelback, but he showed some bright moments in coverage. He nearly nabbed an interception on Matt Fink during the 1-on-1 segment. A short while later, he jumped another Fink pass, completing the pick and running clear across the field with a trail of celebrating teammates.
  • JT Daniels… The incumbent starter looked like it on Tuesday, hitting touchdown after touchdown in 1-on-1s then opening the first 11-on-11 period with a long touchdown to walk-on Zach Wilson. He threw the ball accurately and with gusto throughout the day.

Practice tidbits

  • Quarterbacks spent some time dunning a drill which involved diving on loose footballs. Fortunately, through two spring practices they haven’t had to do much of that with largely consistent snaps from centers Brett Neilon and Justin Dedich.
  • Drake Jack, a walk-on defensive back from De La Salle, delighted his teammates, on defensive at least, by intercepting Kedon Slovis during 7-on-7 play. On the next play, Isaac Taylor-Stuart nearly found himself an interception, but he lost the ball going to the ground. He started push ups in penance right there and then.
  • Outside linebacker Juliano Falaniko appeared to get some reps at inside linebacker, suggesting another possible position change this spring.
  • Clayton Bradley took first team reps at left tackle in place of Austin Jackson.
  • Christian Rector left practice early, leaving Drake Jackson to step into the first team opposite Connor Murphy.

News and notes

  • Fired again?… New running backs coach Mike Jinks was brought to USC by Kliff Kingsbury. So when Kingsbury left the Trojans for the NFL, Jinks was in quite an awkward position. Worst of all, he was literally in the process of moving his family to Los Angeles when it happened. They were getting off the plane when his son saw the news and asked him, “Dad, Kliff’s going to Arizona. Did we just get fired again?” He said he couldn’t look his wife in the eyes for about three days: “It was an interesting couple of days there.”
  • Just as good as NFL… Why did Jinks ultimately stick with the Trojans? He had discussions with Kingsbury to follow him to the Cardinals but he decided that USC was the opportunity for him. “I’m not trying to be disrespectful to anybody but this job is just as good as any NFL job,” he said. Getting to know Helton over three weeks of recruiting for the Trojans also gave him the right sense to stay.
  • The view from above… Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell spends part of practice up on the deck of Dedeaux field calling in plays with a headset. It wasn’t his idea, he says, but it gives him and players a good simulation of game conditions. The players don’t have the safety net of looking around for help every rep while the coaches get the chance to settle into the mechanic of the playcalling.
  • Pulling hair… Harrell admitted the tempo of practice so far has had him pulling his hair out because “I’m used to seeing three years in, instead of two days in. But considering it’s two days, these guys are doing great things.”
  • Somebody lied… Adjusting to life in California hasn’t been difficult for Harrell, but he did have some things to say about the mythical Los Angeles weather. “One thing, they lied to me. They said it rained like 10 times a year and it’s rained 15 since I’ve been here,” he joked. “Besides being lied to on that, it’s been pretty nice when the sun’s out. You know, what y’all call rain is a drizzle in Texas.”