Growing pains are a natural part of spring ball and USC is no doubt feeling them with the departure of quarterback Matt Barkley, center Khaled Holmes, cornerback Nickell Robey, and safety T.J. McDonald among others.
But softening the blow of losing those talented players is the promise the newest and youngest Trojans are showing. Seven players on the spring roster are freshmen early enrolless at Troy, including quarterback Max Browne, tailback Justin Davis, receiver Darreus Rogers, cornerbacks Chris Hawkins and Leon McQuay, safety Su'a Cravens, and defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow.
It's not hard to miss coach Ed Orgeron's voice echoing across the field yelling Bigelow's name and you can't overlook the fumbled snaps over the first two days by Browne -- but head coach Lane Kiffin says noticeable improvement has been made by this group in just two practices and the 2013 recruiting class is bound to make an early splash.
"These seven can come in here and make an impact already," Kiffin said after Thurdsay's practice. "[It] says a lot about them."
We've been very impressed with Justin [Davis] through two days," he continued. "Su'a [Cravens] continues to make plays out here and Chris Hawkins too. I'm really excited about all seven of the midyear guys but those guys have really stuck out."
Situation at center
Over the first two days of spring practice, usually at any given moment you can glance around the field and find an offensive lineman and a quarterback taking a lap.
That's for all the fumbled snaps.
Sophomore Max Tuerk, who split time at left tackle with Aundrey Walker, is now making the snaps. Tuerk spent a small amount of time practicing at center during bowl practices in December, but this is his first significant practice time at the position.
"He's very intelligent and very smart," Kiffin explained.
He's also rather tall for the position. "There have been some good ones before that have been tall," Kiffin said. "[Offensive line coach] Mike Summers actually had one before that was a first round pick that was 6-foot-5 so it's very good to see him transition in there."
Kiffin says the intent of the transition is to make it long term for Tuerk, "if it is it means he is doing really well," he said. "He's ideal to be in there as far as his intelligence level and command of the line. Hopefully it will work out."
NCAA puts deregulation of recruiting on hold
The NCAA announced Thursday it is putting two of 25 proposals on hold which were passed in January and are set to take effect on Aug. 1.
The proposals revolved around printed materials programs can send to recruits and the addition of what would be deemed "recruiting staffs" to programs -- essentially staff members who could text players an unlimited amount.
Kiffin reacted to the news following practice. "We hadn't really thought about making some moves like some other schools had and so we didn't want to hire people -- knowing this might happen," Kiffin said. "We will wait to see if it changes."
The head coach says he thinks there is some good and bad to the proposals. "Obviously it allows you to have more people recruiting," he said. "At the same time, you're going to consume the time of a lot of assistant coaches because there is going to be a race to outdo each other by how much you are on the phone all year long."
I think the student-athlete in high school is going to suffer, too," he continued.
Kiffin said if the proposal does end up being passed that he anticipates USC would be a school that would hire more staff. "We kind of laid out a plan if it to go that direction what we would do," he said. "Like anything we're always going to want to stay at the top of it and not let somebody else have an advantage."
Silas Redd won MVP of the day on offense…George Uko won MVP of the day on defense…Kiffin said he is leaning toward having fall practices in the afternoon…Both freshman defensive backs Su'a Cravens and Chris Hawkins had multiple pass-breakups on Thursday…Former USC safety T.J. McDonald was at practice…2013 signee Nico Falah was watching from the sideline…no pads on Thursday.