WR George Farmer – Stop me if you've heard this one before: a highly-touted receiver from Gardena Serra is set to crack the starting lineup for USC from opening day. While Woods accomplished that feat in 2010 wit his precise route running and work ethic, Farmer can do it with sheer physical talent.
Drawing comparisons to Dallas Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant, expect Farmer to compete with redshirt freshman Kyle Prater for the vacancy created by Ronald Johnson's graduation. Of course, Woods is so versatile, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the high school teammates and Prater all on the field at the same time, especially with the uncertainty at the fullback spot.
DB Isiah Wiley – The Trojan pass defense was an unmitigated disaster last season, allowing 259 yards per game, but it's not like the coaches had many options. At corner, T.J. Bryant missed the start of the season with a fractured cheek and the end with a shoulder injury, same as Torin Harris. Brian Baucham also dealt with various ailments.
Wiley was originally set to participate in spring practice, but was unable to enroll in January, which would have allowed him to count against last year's recruiting class as an early enrollee. Still, with experience and good size – 6-foot-1, 185 pounds – Wiley could be the answer at corner to replace Shareece Wright.
OT Aundrey Walker – He's not coming from Ohio State pipeline Cleveland Glenville to redshirt, that much is a given. Walker is a big, physical presence coming to a front five that struggled to maintain consistency and attitude all season long. With Tyron Smith off to the NFL early, Walker could end up as that rarest of commodities, a true freshman starter on the line.
LB Tre Madden – USC needs an outside linebacker capable of making plays to replace Malcolm Smith and the Mission Viejo star looks like the answer. A versatile athlete that doubled as Wildcat quarterback, Madden can run with slot receivers or tight ends.
K Andre Heidari – For all the improvements assistant coach John Baxter delivered on special teams in his first campaign, placekicking is the one area even his skills couldn't improve. There was the crucial miss against Washington and the lack of a reliable kicker clearly impacted Lane Kiffin's playcalling throughout the course of the year. Heidari showed great distance in camps and all-star games and was essentially penciled in as starter as soon as he enrolled in January.
Kevin Carden's Picks:
George Farmer – The Serra High School standout is one of the most physically gifted players in the 2011 class with a unique combination of size, speed and strength. Farmer will be reunited with his former high school teammate, Robert Woods, and both could contribute in the passing game and on special teams – just like the good ol' days.
And what does Lane Kiffin think?
"I'd like to think that George Farmer would come in and contribute. He has all the intangibles to be a great player, but you never know," Lane Kiffin said. "Height, weight, speed and character, he's off the charts. So I would think he would be the front line guy of all those guys."
Lamar Dawson – The four-star linebacker from Kentucky got Signing day started with a bang for the Men of Troy, and Dawson will be given the opportunity to immediately compete for playing time when he arrives on campus in the fall. At 6-2, 230 pounds, Dawson is known for his instincts and physical play at the middle linebacker spot. As Scout's Scott Kennedy said, "He plays fast without playing reckless."
Cyrus Hobbi – Offensive line was a major need for the Trojans in the 2011 class, and the USC staff brought in a solid mixture of JUCO players and talented high school prospects. While David Garness and Jeremy Galten have the experience to add some depth right away, Cyrus Hobbi is a player that could see significant playing time as the season progresses.
The 6-3, 285-pound lineman plays with great technique and was very well coached at Saguaro High School, so he has the potential to contribute at guard or center as a freshman.
Anthony Sarao – The one-time Stanford commit gave USC's class a major boost when he switched to the Trojans. Sarao is a very productive linebacker that received rave reviews for his play during the Army All-American Bowl week in San Antonio, Texas. The 6-1, 220-pound linebacker plays with a nasty streak and is always around the ball. Look for New Jersey native to push for playing time early at the weakside linebacker spot and contribute on special teams.
Special Teamers: While USC fans can't wait to see the skill players and hard hitting linebackers, it could be the kicker and punter that have the biggest impact in 2011. John Baxter will likely call on Andre Heidari and Kris Albarado to start from day one of their USC careers.
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