Which players have elevated their stock this offseason? Look inside for the answers.
SCPLAYBOOK'S FIVE ON THE RISE
Look for the speedy redshirt freshman to work his way into the mix for playing time this coming season. Morgan, the fastest Trojan on the roster, showed plenty of potential while playing tailback for the service team in practice last season, earning him the Service Team Offensive Player of the Year Award.
Fully recovered from an ACL injury that he suffered in his senior season at Taft High School, Morgan has an aggressive, slashing style that makes him a deceptively physical back. Assistant coach Kennedy Pola likes running backs that hit the hole hard, much like Justin Fargas did in the past, and Morgan could develop into that type of player. And with a reported 4.37 forty time he is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball.
No player has shown more progress this offseason than DeVon Flournoy. The 6-0, 185-pound wide receiver appeared to have lost some confidence while redshirting in 2010, but he has emerged as a completely different player this offseason.
Flournoy has been the most productive wide receiver during the players-only throwing sessions, looking bigger and stronger – to go along with his improved route-running ability. With the departure of Ronald Johnson, the talented sophomore, who recently recorded a 4.47 forty time, has the opportunity to establish himself as one of the top three wide receivers on the team.
After failing to qualify in 2010, fullback Soma Vainuku is on campus and one of the most intriguing mid-year enrollees. The 6-2, 255-pound back from Eureka immediately caught the eye of observers this offseason because of his unique combination of size, speed and athleticism. Vainuku has looked very natural catching the ball out of the backfield during 7-on-7 drills and brings a lot of passion and energy to the field.
As the only scholarship fullback currently on the roster, Vainuku will be called on to make an impact early in his career.
Watch five minutes of a players-only throwing session and you will notice the swagger and aggressive style of Anthony Brown. The redshirt freshman cornerback brings some much-needed nastiness to a secondary that was a major weakness for the Trojans in 2010. Brown doesn't have ideal size, but he makes up for it with his passion and determination. He has been arguable the hardest working player on the team, and is routinely one of the last players to leave the practice field during offseason workouts.
The talented cornerback will still have to beat out Torin Harris, T.J. Bryant, Brian Baucham and others for playing time opposite of Nickell Robey, but he has shown a lot of growth since the end of the 2010 season.
One of the most promising young players on USC
's roster is defensive lineman George Uko. The big- bodied defensive tackle from Don Lugo High School earned USC's Service Team Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2010 because of his impressive play on the practice field as a redshirt freshman. Uko had the size and skills to contribute last season, but he will benefit greatly from his redshirt year, which allowed him to learn the system and improve his conditioning, while getting adjusted to the rigors of the college game.
At 6-4, 300 pounds, Uko already has an NFL frame and will add quality depth to the interior of the defensive line, which will miss Jurrell Casey.