USC depth chart: Breaking down the Trojan secondary

USC football players. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
USC football players. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

The USC depth chart in the secondary returns almost in its entirety for 2020.

Despite the uncertainty, the 2020 season still looms large as an opportunity for the USC depth chart to prove itself as more than the last two campaigns have shown.

The Trojans fortunately still have a wide array of talent to call on across the roster. That’s especially true in the secondary.

Reign of Troy’s dive into the USC depth chart continues with the defensive backs…

USC depth chart in the secondary:

USC’s secondary was surprisingly solid in 2019 considering it was one of the great unknowns coming into the season.

Youth was a big part of the equation. Now that perceived weakness is set up as a strength since nearly everyone from last year’s depth chart returns.

Safety C.J. Pollard, who opted to transfer to Utah State, is the only departure from the group.

Cornerback:Olaijah Griffin ANDChris Steele ANDIsaac Taylor-StuartDorian HewettJayden WilliamsAdonis Otey

Starts in the two cornerback spots in 2019 were split between Olaijah Griffin, Isaac Taylor-Stuart and Chris Steele with 10, eight and six respectively. Dorian Hewett stepped in for one start as well because of injury.

In one sense, the return of so many players with starting experience should keep the cornerback depth chart fairly straight forward.


In another sense, locking down exactly who will start and who will land in a support role can be tricky. Griffin and Taylor-Stuart are the most veteran players in the unit, but Steele showed real command in his debut season. He could easily unseat the other two as the first name down on the depth chart.

Taylor-Stuart’s injury concerns could also play a role. He was set to miss Spring Camp after tearing knee ligaments in the bowl game against Iowa. Recently he posted a video from a recent workout session showing great progress in his rehab.

Hewett could make his own push for playing time after putting in a strong performance against Arizona.

Nickelback:Greg JohnsonMax Williams

The Trojans have an established nickelback in Greg Johnson returning, as well as a young prospect in Max Williams who could easily be deputized into a starting role.

Hewett might also be deployed in the nickelback spot, given his familiarity with both the cornerback and safety positions.

Free safety:Isaiah Pola-MaoChase WilliamsKaulana Makaula

Isaiah Pola-Mao is one of two returning starters at safety for the Trojans. After snagging four interceptions and logging 5.5 tackles for loss as a redshirt sophomore, he could be in for a big year in 2020.

CHECK OUT: Max Williams showed promise in redshirt year

Chase Williams has bounced around the secondary as a cornerback, nickelback and safety, but he is expected to remain in the latter spot for 2020. He will at least provide some experienced depth.

Kaulana Makaula’s versatility could be an asset as well, with the ability to provide another body at safety or nickelback.

Strong safety:Talanoa HufangaBriton AllenRaymond Scott

Talanoa Hufanga also returns to his starting role with big expectations for 2020. The junior is a potential All-American candidate whose injury history seems to be the only thing standing in the way of greatness.

MORE: USC has the blue-chippers for a title run

Behind Hufanga, the Trojans will have Briton Allen. Allen is another former cornerback who has settled in at safety with a physical nature suited to the position as well as solid coverage skills.

As for Raymond Scott, the former linebacker is a bit of a wildcard who may continue in a special teams role or impress his new coaches enough to warrant some playing time.

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