Spring Practice: Andrew Steps Up

With starters Chris Galippo and Devon Kennard sidelined, walk-on Will Andrew continues to make plays at middle linebacker.

Living The Dream
Freshman quarterback Max Wittek had gone through more than a week of spring practice without throwing an interception.

But during 7-on-7s Tuesday, Wittek's streak ended and another continued.

Linebacker Will Andrew stepped in front of Wittek's pass, the fourth consecutive day the redshirt sophomore recorded a pick.

That Andrew is even running with the first team seems more a product of circumstance, with incumbents Devon Kennard and Chris Galippo sidelined because of injury, not that the Huntington Beach Edison product is complaining.

"It's a dream come true. I'm just trying to take advantage of this opportunity," Andrew said.

Another walk-on, former fullback Adam Goodman, put Andrew in touch with USC coaches and let them know he was interested in joining the team.

Andrew appeared in three games last season, recording two tackles.

"Everything just kind of fell into place," he said.

Now Andrew finds himself as de-facto leader among the linebackers, sharing the field with redshirt sophomore Marquis Simmons and redshirt freshman Hayes Pullard, scholarship players with one career tackle combined.

"On the field, we got a bunch of new guys. I got a little experience, but it's some experience and I'm just trying to take advantage of it and be a leader out there and just get the guys going," Andrew said.

Regardless, the group is making plays right now, resulting in a signature sardonic quip from head coach Lane Kiffin.

"They don't look very good when they walk out here," Kiffin said of the linebackers.

Still, the depth would be much appreciated. Galippo, Kennard and seniors Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan played almost every snap last season, including special teams, because of limited numbers.

USC will also add three touted linebackers this fall, all of whom could contend for playing time.

"It's so far between now and then. They've got a long ways to go," Kiffin said. "Obviously that'd be a great situation to be in, as we've been here before where the depth allows you to rotate guys and play different guys at specialty spots, and also that trickles down to special teams. Hopefully we'll be able to do that with these guys and the guys coming in in the fall.

Said Andrew: "Collectively as a defense, we understand what happened last year and we really want to improve and take that next step forward. I think that's where we're going right now."

And while Andrew would gladly accept a scholarship, he knows that may not be possible given pending reductions imposed by the NCAA and under appeal.

"I don't know anything right now," Andrew said. "I'm just trying to take advantage of my opportunity here and keep getting better each and every day.

"It's been a dream of mine to come here to SC. To play football is just a bonus."

Hot Reads
-Running back D.J. Morgan returned to practice after tweaking his surgically repaired knee last Saturday and continued to impress.

"I think he's a pretty tough-minded kid, the way he finished the runs on the sideline," Kiffin said.

Morgan was also caught in the backfield and cut down by corner Nickell Robey in the backfield near the goalline, one of the morning's standout defensive plays.

-Linebacker Dion Bailey did not practice because of nerve damage in his right forearm resulting from a collision with corner Anthony Brown while making a tackle last Saturday. Bailey hopes to return to the field later this week.

-Wide receiver Robert Woods (hamstring) did not practice, while De'Von Flournoy (hip) exited early, leaving USC with just two scholarship receivers available in Markeith Ambles and Brandon Carswell.

-Kiffin praised Morgan, Carswell, tight end Rhett Ellison, safety T.J. McDonald and running back Curtis McNeal as the standouts of the first week of spring.

McNeal is not yet academically eligible after missing last season.

"We obviously hope that he gets his academic work (in order) so he can help us on offense but on special teams especially," Kiffin said.

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