USC football has three players on Athlon’s preseason All-American third and fourth team.
USC football still needs to improve its national standing before it can expect to place players on preseason All-American first teams, but some talented Trojans have still warranted a place on Athlon’s preseason All-American squad.
The annual preseason release from Athlon features three USC players, though none made their way onto the first or second teams.
Instead, Alijah Vera-Tucker landed on the third-team offense while Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jay Tufele took spots on the four-team offense and defense respectively.
USC football’s All-American candidates have a way to climb.
In addition to Athlon’s preseason All-American squad, Vera-Tucker, Tufele and St. Brown have all featured on recent preseason watch lists.
The offensive and defensive linemen are both candidates for the Outland Trophy as the top interior lineman in college football. The wide receiver is on the Biletnikoff Award watch list looking for the best receiver in the game along with teammate Tyler Vaughns.
Vaughns is one of a couple of Trojans who could have a gripe with not being featured on the All-American squad. Though he has played in the shadow of Michael Pittman along with St. Brown, Vaughns could be in line for a season with mega-production.
On defense, the biggest snub stands out. Talanoa Hufanga was the best player on the field for USC at any given time in 2019, though injury limited his overall impact as a sophomore.
It’s somewhat understandable for him to be left off, given the abbreviated nature of his first two seasons with the Trojans. However, the safety finished off last season with 18 tackles and 14 tackles against Iowa. He added two tackles for loss in each of those outings. That’s All-American level production.
There’s also an argument for Kedon Slovis, who missed out on the All-American squad in favor of first-teamer Trevor Lawrence, second-teamer Justin Fields, third-teamer Sam Howell and fourth-teamer Sam Ehlinger.
Those first two are no-brainers, but Howell is of a similar profile to Slovis as a second-year passer coming off an impressive debut season. The difference is Slovis played in two fewer games and averaged more yards, was almost 10 percent more accurate and posted a better passer rating.
Of course, it’s up to each of these Trojans to prove they deserve more when the real All-American squads are voted on at the end of the 2020 season.