The Ten of Troy: Spring Edition

In this edition of the Ten of Troy, we look at the 10 players creating the most buzz among USC fans heading into spring football 2015.

Created by Gerard Martinez | Hover over photos for analysis

1. Adoree Jackson | Sophomore | Cornerback | Gardena (Calif.)

Gerard Martinez -- Sophomore cornerback, wide receiver and kick returner Adoree Jackson was a dynamic play makers for USC all over the field last season. His ability to contribute to both sides of the football even caught he eye of many recruits in the 2015 class. Jackson is the face of change at USC as Steve Sarkisian attempts to move the program from under the dark cloud of NCAA sanctions. But how will USC use Jackson this year? Will he supplement the offense with less depth at wide out, or Will Jackson continue to hone his skills as a cornerback? Trojan fans are eager to see how Adoree develops and how that development impacts this year’s team.



2. Su'a Cravens | Junior | Linebacker | Temecula (Calif.)

Gerard Martinez -- Moving from safety to SAM linebacker at the end of fall camp last year, Cravens now has the whole off season to focus on one position. Physically, he no longer has to starve himself to stay under 230-pounds, which draws greater intrigue into how that impacts his game going forward. As a hybrid linebacker-safety last season, Cravens had 68 tackles, 17 for losses and five sacks with nine pass deflections. He also led the team with three interceptions. A year younger than his junior class, Cravens still has a lot of upside to his game.



3. Cody Kessler | Senior | Quarterback | Bakersfield (Calif.)

Dan Weber -- He's amazingly accurate, productive, competitive and a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate -- although there are lots of them right now in college football. But is this the season the three-year starter -- and USC passing record-breaker -- from Bakersfield takes the next step with this USC team he clearly leads and carries his productivity over to the tougher opponents USC's past gameplans have shied away from in the past? Cody's challenge is to develop his Nelson Agholor-like rapport with receivers Juju Smith, Adoree Jackson, Steven Mitchell, Bryce Dixon and a host of others. Cody is a perfect example of a player whose team will determine his Heisman worthiness.



4. Juju Smith | Soph. | Wide Receiver | Long Beach (Calif.)

Ryan Abraham -- Still just 18 years old, Juju Smith is already one of the most dynamic players on the team. Even though this will be his first Trojan spring football session, he is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver and Cody Kessler's top target. Smith, sporting a new orange hairdo, stepped up this off season by leading his teammates through winter workout sessions. If a receiver dropped a catchable ball, the freshman would act as the lead disciplinarian making sure everyone took these workouts seriously.



5. Max Browne | Soph. | Quarterback | Sammamish (Wash.)

Dan Weber -- He's bigger, stronger, more mature, can make all the throws and is ready to step in and run this Trojans team after his two seasons at USC -- and do so when and if needed. No longer a "backup," Max says he likes the sound of "alternate starter." Ohio State showed what that looks like for a quarterback. It means, Max says, that USC would "not lose a beat," he says, with him on the field. USC fans understand, or should, that he's the player who was the nation's No. 1 pro-style QB prospect just three years ago. And he's much improved from then.



6. Steven Mitchell | Soph. | Wide Receiver | Mission Hills (Calif.)

Dan Weber -- "God had a plan for me," Mitchell says of the season-ending surgery the summer before his first USC season, which slowed his second year wide receiver last fall as he worked his way back. Well, he's all the way back and despite bulking up to 190 pounds, faster than ever, says the explosive, quick-footed Mitchell. He figures he'll run "a high 4.3," in the 40 and is being paired in combo routes with JuJu Smith forcing teams to decide who to double.



7. Isaac Whitney | Junior | Wide Receiver | Riverside (Calif.)

Gerard Martinez -- A healthy Steve Mitchell could be a huge boost to the offense, but Riverside City College transfer Isaac Whitney steps on campus expected to be an early contributor at wide out this season. With two years of eligibility remaining, Whitney has the physical tools to make an impact right away at the D-I level. However, with only four touchdown receptions at the junior college level, questions remain as to just how much of a play making threat Whitney can be. He won’t contribute as a kick returner like Nelson Agholor, but can he become the big receiver USC has lacked in the end zone for the past few years?



8. Claude Pelon | Senior | Defensive Tackle | Orlando (Fla.)

Ryan Abraham -- One of the biggest concerns for the Trojans in 2015 will be replacing Leonard Williams along the defensive line. The top candidate to do that is junior college transfer Claude Pelon. In his first action as a Trojan last season he played both tackle and end, accumulating 19 tackles, six for a loss with 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and he even blocked a field goal. Pelon won't be able to replace Williams all by himself, but he will play a key role for Chris Wilson's defensive line group. Pelon is a huge body that can play any one of three positions along the defensive line.



9. Max Tuerk | Senior | Center | Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.)

Dan Weber -- The first-team All-PAC-12 center who is being labeled by Steve Sarkisian as "the best center in the nation" may be a little long (at 6-foot-6 with even longer arms) for center but the leadership skills of USC's lone senior along with his versatility (he's played every position on the O-line) make him a perfect guy to call out the line blocking even if he's not a natural snapper. Still hearing there's a chance the O-line might move people around. If so, Tuerk makes it easy to do.



10. Lamar Dawson | Senior | Linebacker | Danville (Ky.)

Ryan Abraham -- The Trojans need to get bigger and deeper at the linebacker position, so the return of Jabari Ruffin and Lamar Dawson will be key for Justin Wilcox's defense. Both Ruffin and Dawson missed 2014 with knee injuries and both are expected to be healthy enough to contribute this spring. However, with the loss of Hayes Pullard at MIKE linebacker, Dawson’s return in the middle is that much more important. He’ll be pushed by in-coming freshman Cam Smith, so it’s time for Dawson to make due on his own high school hype.


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