USC football Spring Camp notes: Young talent showcased (4/6)

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 /

Youth was the focus of USC football’s “Spring Showcase” on Saturday thanks to big plays from Drake Jackson and Markese Stepp.

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USC football closed out the fourth week of Spring Camp on Saturday with the annual “Spring Showcase,” with young talent showing off for the crowd of Trojan fans on Cromwell Field.

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The practice, which was aired on Pac-12 Network, featured highlight plays from running back Markese Stepp and defensive end Drake Jackson, both of whom have become two of the standouts of Spring Camp as a whole.

Jackson delivered an interception which head coach Clay Helton termed “unbelievable.” It’s an accurate description for the way Jackson reached out and plucked Jack Sears’ pass out of the air one-handed. He secured the ball and rumbled for a pick six.

The moment was well-deserved by the early enrollee who has been compared to Leonard Williams by both Helton and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. He has been a bright figure throughout spring ball and on Saturday Helton credited him for doing more than a single highlight.

“He was playing in the backfield all day,” Helton said.

Where Jackson created the defensive highlight of the day, Stepp burst free for the biggest play on offense.

On a handoff to the right, the redshirt freshman took advantage of a huge hole and then sped through the defense for a score in the area of 60 yards.

It was a play which showed another side to Stepp’s game, which had already turned heads this spring thanks to his physicality in live tackling periods.

“You kind of see him as a bruiser, as a 230-pound man, but then all of the sudden you remember how fast a man he is,” Helton said.

Though there were highlights to whet the appetite of Trojan fans on hand and watching at home, it’s worth noting that Saturday’s practice was a slightly limited showcase. Helton admitted that they held back some because of the Pac-12 Network cameras on hand.

However, the head coach also insisted that the scheme is what it is.

“We can literally let everybody come in here and watch this, we really don’t care,” Helton said. “We want to be able to set our standard and play to that standard.”

If nothing else, fans got to see how Jackson and Stepp are certainly doing their part to set the standard going forward.