USC Spring Camp will open on Wednesday without the likes of Talanoa Hufanga, Markese Stepp and others who are expected to be sidelined with injuries.
At times in 2019, the USC football team seemed like the walking wounded. They’ll start 2020 in a similar position.
The Trojans will open Spring Camp practices on Wednesday with 10 players unavailable because of injury and two more out while focusing on other sports. Another five will be limited while three are coming off of surgery but are expected to practice, according to USC’s Spring Camp Media Guide.
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That makes for a long injury report before practice has even begun.
USC will be missing some big hitters this spring. Literally and figuratively.
Safety Talanoa Hufanga is expected to sit out while recovering from shoulder surgery. Fortunately, his partner Isaiah Pola-Mao will be available this time around. Hufanga’s absence could open the door for others to stake a claim to a rotational spot in Todd Orlando’s aggressive defense.
Elsewhere on the defense, a handful of would-be starters will miss out on their chance to lock down jobs.
Outside linebackers Hunter Echols and Abdul-Malik McClain are expected to be out after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Inside linebacker Jordan Iosefa will continue to rehab the knee injury which kept him out in 2019.
Finally, cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart will sit out while recovering from a knee injury.
On offense, the Trojans depth at running back will be impacted by the absence of Markese Stepp, who is still hampered by an ankle injury, and walk-on Ben Easington, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last year.
With Kenan Christon focusing on track this spring, USC’s only scholarship running backs will be veterans Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr.
Christon isn’t the only player playing another sport. Wide receiver Drake London will stay with the basketball team as they enter the postseason this March.
The receiver position will be further impacted as Munir McClain is slated to miss practice this spring while continuing to rehab his season-ending knee injury from the fall.
Depth on the offensive line isn’t particularly strong to begin with and a wrist injury for Gino Quinones will put USC on thin ice at the center position.
Meanwhile, tight end Ethan Rae will be out with the same knee injury which kept him out in 2019.
The big news relates to quarterback JT Daniels, whose recovery from an ACL injury has come along nicely. Clay Helton confirmed on Trojans Live this week he will be available for some non-contact work this spring.
Limitations will also apply to wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jacob Lichtenstein, who are both recovering from surgery for a sports hernia.
St. Brown is already well-established as one of USC’s top offensive weapons, so it’s no great concern if he can’t compete fully in camp. However, Lichtenstein’s long injury record is a concern while the time missed will no doubt impact his chances of breaking into the lineup this season.
There may be a similar concern for Andrew Vorhees, who has been dogged by an ankle injury since 2019. He is expected to be limited this spring, which could prevent him from tossing his hat into the race to claim Austin Jackson’s vacant starting left tackle job.
Walk-on wide receiver Chris Caulk will also be limited with a knee injury.
Three Trojans underwent wrist surgery after the 2019 season, but the trio is expected to participate in Spring Camp: Safety Briton Allen, cornerback Adonis Otey and defensive lineman Trevor Trout.
Allen will have a big opportunity to compete with Hufanga out while Otey could also take advantage of Taylor-Stuart’s absence at cornerback.
Trout will be looking to complete a full Spring Camp after missing most of last year’s spring practices.
Even though he was knocked out of the Holiday Bowl with an elbow strain, quarterback Kedon Slovis should be full-go for the Trojans this spring.