How will USC football replace each departing player in 2020?

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

USC football has a handful of starters to replace in 2020 because of graduation and NFL entry. The task of replacing them begins now.

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On Monday, the deadline to declare for the NFL draft came and went with just one USC football player throwing their name into the early entry pot.

That means Austin Jackson will join a group of graduating seniors who will leave the Trojans with places to fill in 2020.

Here’s a look at who is graduating or leaving for the NFL and how they can be replaced:

John Houston

As USC’s defensive captain and leading tackler in 2019, John Houston leaves behind a big gap in the Trojan defense.

What’s being replaced?

  • Team captain
  • Career starts: 36
  • 104 tackles, 7 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, 1 FR, 3 PBU in 2019
  • 2019 All-Pac-12 honorable mention

Who can replace him?

Simply put, there’s a clear replacement for Houston in 2020: Jordan Iosefa, the linebacker who was supposed to be MLB B to Houston’s MLB A going into 2019. Unfortunately for Iosefa, injury kept him from contributing as a true senior. Fortunately for USC, an open redshirt year has given Iosefa a second chance at a final bow.

Of course, changes at defensive coordinator add some intrigue to Iosefa’s situation and the MIKE linebacker role. Iosefa was a favorite of fired DC Clancy Pendergast. How he’ll fit into the plans of USC’s new defensive coordinator remains to be seen.

If not Iosefa, USC does have a wealth of other linebackers who could contend for the starting role thanks to the Trojans’ loaded class of 2018. Palaie Gaoteote could finally live up to his five-star billing. Possibly more suited to the middle role, Solomon Tuliaupupu is set to return from his two-year injury odyssey and battle for a place himself.

Kana’i Mauga and Eli’Jah Winston are also names to watch, depending on where they land position-wise in the new defense. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Ralen Goforth is a dark horse prospect with the instinctive chops to rise to the top.