Early bird gets the worm

USC players took the field early on Thursday for one of the last voluntary players-only throwing sessions of the summer...

The early birds got the worm Thursday morning on Cromwell Field.

USC players-only throwing sessions usually begin around the 7 a.m. - 7:15 a.m. mark, but not Thursday. Strength and conditioning coaches were off the field and balls were being thrown by 6:30 a.m.

As you'd expect, Max Wittek, Cody Kessler, and Max Browne all were present, taking reps. What might come as a bit of a surprise, however, are the number of reps walk-on Chris Wilson is getting through these workouts. In fact, he even threw in the two-minute drill to wrap up the throwing session - which lasted until a few minutes after 8 a.m.

At about 7:15 a.m, a familiar face rolled up in his shiny red motorized cart: Steven Mitchell. As you know, the freshman underwent surgery a few weeks ago to repair a torn ACL suffered during summer workouts. Mitchell said today he's doing well, in fact, he stepped off his cart to walk to the middle of the field to chat with his teammates during the workout. He obviously favored his surgically repaired right knee, but looks in good spirits and well on his way to recovery.

A few members of the SCPlaybook.com community were asking about the status of Scott Starr? Perfect timing, as Starr has reappeared at workouts. On Thursday morning he was rolling with the fourth-string team at outside linebacker - rushing off the edge. During the two-minute drill he even tallied a sack, taking down Browne.

Starr wasn't the only one collecting sacks during the workout. No surprise here, Morgan Breslin got one on Kessler, freshman Quinton Powell got Browne and walk-on Wilson twice, safety Dion Bailey also took down a few quarterbacks when blitzing. Remember, no pads, advantage defensive line.

The secondary is looking better than it did when spring practices wrapped up. Bailey is looking comfortable again at safety, making strong breaks on the ball and coming closer to interceptions every session. Thursday, he and sophomore receiver Nelson Agholor went up for a jump ball. Too close to call who won, but it was an aggressive play by Bailey, so at this point, call it a win for the defense. Freshman Chris Hawkins also had a nice pass breakup to end the workout for the day, on a Wilson pass intended for Victor Blackwell - Hawkins made an athletic move to swat it down.

Other notables from Thursday's throwing session include a scramble during Wittek's two-minute drill, which resulted in a touchdown thanks to a solid block by freshman tailback Buck Allen...sophomore tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick continues to standout through summer workouts...fullback Jahleel Pinner has been displaying an ability to catch short yardage passes over the last two workouts.

A handful of guys stayed after the workout to get in some extra reps, including Agholor, Bailey, Browne, Leon McQuay, Wilson, and Justin Davis.

The Trojans have one week of voluntary workouts remaining before the start of fall camp.

Kristen Rodgers contributed video to this report.

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