USC football had three more players opt out of the 2020 season besides Jay Tufele, but the trio will at least be returning in 2021.
USC football may be celebrating the return of Alijah Vera-Tucker ahead of the 2020 season, but the Trojans will have to survive without a few more big men.
In addition to Jay Tufele, who declared for the NFL Draft, USC will be without defensive lineman Jacob Lichtenstein and offensive linemen Frank Martin and Bernard Schirmer for the coming campaign.
Lichtenstein, Martin and Schirmer are opting out of the 2020 season but each plans to return in 2021.
USC football’s offensive and defensive line will be impacted by opt-outs
The good news is Lichtenstein, Martin and Schirmer weren’t key figures for the coming slate of games. None of the three was projected as a starter.
However, their loss will still be felt because USC’s depth in the trenches was never great to begin with.
Lichtenstein’s absence paired with that of Tufele means wiggle room on the defensive line is minimal. So long as Brandon Pili and Marlon Tuipulotu stay healthy, things should be fine. However, the Trojans will need even more reliability from the likes of Caleb Tremblay, Connor Murphy and Nick Figueroa.
Then again, perhaps this is a huge opportunity for young linemen like Dejon Benton and Stanley Ta’ufo’ou or one of the freshman arrivals like Kobe Pepe, Jamar Sekona and Tuli Tuipulotu.
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Martin and Shirmer were unlikely to contend for starting roles, but they were expected to provide veteran depth. Without them, USC’s two-deep behind the starting five will feature more freshmen than is comfortable. In fact, eight of the Trojans 14 linemen have zero playing experience.