Spring Practice Report

All the news, notes and quotes from the first day of spring ball.

The first day of spring ball for the top ranked preseason team brought so much news that the notables from the Trojans' February throwing sessions seem more like a lame post script now.

First, the injury report. Lane Kiffin closed the session by listing players that were not cleared for spring ball. Aside from the players we've previously discussed (tight end Christian Thomas, defensive lineman DeVante Wilson and cornerback Torin Harris), a few came as a surprise in punter Kyle Negrete, early enrollee/offensive tackle Chad Wheeler and defensive tackle Christian Heyward. Wheeler had shoulder surgery in October and said a full recovery will take a minimum of six months.

Robert Woods remains limited this spring. It's clear after undergoing offseason ankle surgery that the Trojans' star receiver hasn't fully recuperated. It doesn't appear as though Kiffin is extremely worried about his progress, it seems to be more of a cautionary measure than anything.

A few position changes of note. Last week Kiffin announced that offensive lineman Cody Temple would move to defensive tackle, a position he played in high school. Tony Burnett will move from cornerback to safety after having a conversation with Monte Kiffin. The assistant head coach said he feels that Burnett is a more natural safety and there is plenty of depth at cornerback. Lastly, defensive end Greg Townsend will get looks at both end and tackle. Townsend said he's bigger than USC's current ends and believes his size and speed will enable his versatility on the line. He believes his position coach Ed Orgeron "knows what he's doing" and said he is approaching the change "with an open mind."

The consensus player of the day was receiver George Farmer, who looks like he's hopped back onto the old receiver bike without any apparent rust. His route running looked fluid, he displayed great speed and vision and of course, showed off those five-star hands.

The play of the day was an unexpected one. Barkley threw it about 10 yards deep and fullback Soma Vainuku made a diving catch that got gasps from onlookers. Barkley called it "Havili-esque." The play was one of many grabs from Vainuku, who looks to be filling those No. 1 shoes well. Last year he would not have made that same play but it's clear he has improved.

Troy's starting offensive line was no real surprise: Kevin Graf at left tackle, Marcus Martin at left guard, Khaled Holmes at center, John Martinez at right guard and Aundrey Walker at right tackle. The unit looked good for its first day back. When Walker was questioned whether he would get time on the left, he said he didn't know but "if that were to happen it will be." He said it wouldn't be difficult to go from one side to the other, as he knows both positions well.

Marqise Lee, George Farmer and De'Von Flournoy were the prominent receivers in the Trojans' three wideout sets. Lee looked good per usual and Flournoy showed off his athleticism, although he could have been more consistent. Victor Blackwell also had a good amount of catches; a standout play included a 40-yard grab from Mater Dei teammate Max Wittek on a fade route. An interesting player worth note is Devin Forte, also on the Trojans' track team. Forte got a lot of reps as well.

The quarterback competition looked basically even in the players' first day back. Kiffin said he expects to split reps among all three (although Jesse Scroggins was out today with a hip injury) until one guy stands out among the rest, whenever that may be.

A few players saw early injuries in tight ends Xavier Grimble and Junior Pomee and tailback Curtis McNeal. Grimble said he hurt his turf toe and should be out a couple of days. It was not clear what happened to Pomee or McNeal.

Early enrolle Scott Starr looked reminiscent of Clay Matthews with his long hair and donning Matthews' former No. 47 jersey. He played well considering it was his first day backing up middle linebacker Lamar Dawson.

And finally, the interception-tracker: Drew McAllister picked off Max Wittek, Isiah Wiley intercepted Barkley and walk on linebacker Augusto Alonso tipped one of the quarterbacks' passes that safety Jawanza Starling caught and ran back.

If Tuesday's practice is any indication, this spring is going to be a busy one.


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