The depth concern in 2014 could be at an all time high – unless numerous freshmen in USC's talented 2014 recruiting class are ready to play college football immediately.
The Trojan freshmen will arrive on campus in June, when they'll begin to immediately start to work with strength and conditioning coach Ivan Lewis. Lewis will be tasked with getting USC's newest players ready for the speed and grueling days ahead in fall camp.
The Trojans signed multiple players in 2014 who have the ability to play on both side of the ball including Adoree Jackson, Rahshead Johnson, Ajene Harris and Juju Smith. USC coach Steve Sarkisian mentioned during spring practices that all three players have the ability to play on both sides of the football, noting that indeed a few of them may have to do that.
Most likely to see time on both offense and defense? Jackson and Smith. Both will enter fall camp as five-star recruits with big expectations on their shoulders. Jackson will most likely compete right away for a starting role at cornerback, but could also play receiver. Smith will compete for a role in the Trojans secondary right away as well. Both players have a playmaking ability on offense; don't be surprised to see them thrown out there for a few plays. Much of how Jackson and Smith are used could depend on the injury status of other players going into fall.
Johnson and Harris will most likely end up strictly playing offense come fall camp.
There was a serious lack of depth at cornerback throughout the spring. The only two scholarship players consistently able to perform at the position were Kevon Seymour and Chris Hawkins. USC will add Jonathan Lockett, John Plattenburg and Lamont Simmons to the mix by fall camp. It appears Seymour will retain his starting role, leaving the spot opposite him up for grabs – if Josh Shaw is moved to safety.
Returning players who spent the spring injured, including Anthony Brown, Devian Shelton, and Ryan Henderson, have been unable to solve the cornerback problem for the Trojans in years past – it's an uphill battle for them to step up this coming fall. It's not out of the question – but this new crop of corners will certainly challenge for the open spot.
USC's offensive line remains another area concern as the Trojans enter summer workouts.
It's a young line with very little depth. The spring saw true freshman Toa Lobendahn and redshirt freshman Khaliel Rodgers take first team reps. The Trojans may need another freshmen to step up in August when they add three more including Chris Brown, Damien Mama, and Viane Talamaivao. According to Scout recruiting analysts, Talamaivao is the most college-ready player at the moment. Mama will most likely have to spend some time working on his body in order to be able to keep pace in Sarkisian's up-tempo offense. Brown is believed to have the smarts to also step in immediately in the fall and potentially make an impact in a position group that is notoriously the toughest for freshmen to learn.
The group will pick up three more players this summer when freshmen Malik Dorton, Uchenna Nwosu, and Olajuwon Tucker arrive on campus. It is unlikely the three players will make immediate impacts on the defensive line, unless it falls victim to injury. But all three will certainly provide competition throughout fall camp.
Junior Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick was the only scholarship tight end available in spring practices due to the nagging knee injury to Randall Telfer. The door is open for freshmen Bryce Dixon to arrive on campus and make an immediate impact at the position for the Trojans in August.