Two USC football stars on Outland Trophy watch list for 2020

USC football lineman Jay Tufele. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
USC football lineman Jay Tufele. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

USC football’s Jay Tufele and Alijah Vera-Tucker are on the Outland Trophy watch list for 2020.

Who is the best interior lineman in college football? USC football hopes either Jay Tufele or Alijah Vera-Tucker can take up that mantel in 2020 after each was named to the Outland Trophy watch list.

The Football Writers Association of America released the annual preseason watch list on Tuesday. Tufele and Vera-Tucker were among the 85 names listed.

The two redshirt juniors were among 11 representatives from the Pac-12.

USC football has high hopes for Jay Tufele and Alijah Vera-Tucker.

Tufele was an All-Pac-12 first-team selection in 2019 after posting 41 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Phil Steele even named him to his All-American honorable mention list.

Within USC there was agreement about his impact. For the second straight year, he was named USC’s Defensive Lineman of the Year.

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Back in 2018, Tufele came alive in five starts. The Athletic included him on their Freshman All-American first team.

Since his arrival as a highly-touted four-star lineman from Utah, Tufele has boasted massive potential. Putting it all together with a consistently dominant 2020 season would result in national recognition as well as a major boost to his NFL Draft potential.

Vera-Tucker is in a similar situation.

Though he was limited to an All-Pac-12 second-team nod, Pro Football Focus included him on their All-American third team. The recognition was well-earned as Vera-Tucker was arguably USC’s best linemen in 2019. He was certainly the most consistent. His reliably strong performances warranted USC’s Offensive Lineman of the Year Award.

The 2020 campaign will be Vera-Tucker’s third as a regular contributor and his second as a full-time starter.

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However, his role may change when the Trojans actually take the field. Spring Camp opened with the lineman expected to try his hand at left tackle to help replace Austin Jackson. That may be the biggest barrier to Vera-Tucker contending for the Outland Trophy. It’s reserved for linemen in the interior.

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