Taking a look at spring . . . the defense

Player by player, position by position, we take a look at the final 3 weeks for each defensive player here.

In our second installment getting get back to football this weekend, we look ahead to USC's three-week sprint to the end of spring. As Steve Sarkisian has said, the Trojans' two-tiered spring football sessions, before and after spring break, give them -- and us -- a two-for-one here.

The two-week, six-practice preliminaries are over. Starting Tuesday, USC gets back to the final nine. We've already taken a look at the special teams. Today it's the defense and we'll finish up with the offense for Monday.

Here's how we'd like to see the next three weeks play out for each of the defenders as USC figures out who is ready -- not to mention willing and able -- to step up and play. Not all the walkon guys are here if we don't think we know enough to say about them yet. Maybe after spring.

THE DEFENSE


THE LINEMEN

*** Joey Augello: One of the best practice players and toughest kids out there. Keep making 'em better, Joey. USC has been very fortunate to have walkons like you.

*** Kenny Bigelow: You've gotten your weight down to 285 and your knee mostly rehabbed, now do the individual technique work you need to get yourself flexible, explosive and ready to go this summer. USC needs you to step up.

*** Malik Dorton: You've gotten your weight up to 270. That was step one. Now you're making plays. That's what the D-line needs.

*** Jeff Miller: Another great practice player who could step in after coming back from injury. Keep that Texas pipeline coming.

*** Claude Pelon: Dial that motor up. Every play. Keep the picture of a teammate who moved on, Leonard Williams, on your locker and in your head.

*** Delvon Simmons: You're 6-foot-5 plus and have to play like it with that wingspan and ability to run to the ball and get in the play . . . every play.

*** Cody Temple: Stay healthy. Protect your feet and ankles. Keep the emphasis on technique. Play like the senior leader you can be.

*** Greg Townsend Jr.:Get healthy. You were getting close. You'd be a big bonus and one more piece to a D-line that can only improve if you do it as a group effort with everybody making it happen.

>p>*** Antwaun Woods: Get that elbow healthy and keep conditioning even if we're starting to think of you as a long-distance runner on the Cromwell track this spring. Then figure out how to make plays that affect the game the way a senior should.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

*** Su'a Cravens: Get the 10-15 pounds of weight back for starters. You can't look like a safety and play linebacker. Be the leader you can be for this team as you and your coaches figure out exactly when and where to use your special playmaking talents on the ball.

*** Scott Felix: Take the tough experiences of 2014 and become a playmaker in space on the edge. Close down the guy with the ball, don't just come close.

*** Don Hill: Show us what you've got. This is your chance. Lots of people are waiting to see what you bring to the game since you look the part. Find a place for yourself.

*** Quinton Powell: Slowly but surely you're moving the scales up at 207 pounds last time we checked. Now keep your head in the game, keep showing your coaches what they can do with you if they turn you loose to make plays in space with your speed.

*** Jabari Ruffin: As you get yourself back rehabbing through the spring as a 246-pound Devon Kennard lookalike, do what Devon did in figuring out how to make plays and not just be in the area. Tackling and taking people down matters.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

*** Lamar Dawson: No advice for you in your final season other than stay healthy and do what you can do -- lead by example, run folks down and take them down when you get there. This defense has a place for you.

*** Joel Foy: Great practice player who can step in at any time. You make the rest of this team better and don't do badly for yourself.

*** Michael Hutchings: This is your chance. Take all those De La Salle fundamentals you brought with you and use this spring to make the move up the way it looks like you have so far.

***Cameron Smith: Usually we'd tell early entry freshmen to just get up to speed and take the time to figure it out but it looks like you're past that. Like Toa Lobendahn from last spring, you're skipping the freshman orientation and going right to getting your game on. No need to say more here.

*** Anthony Sarao: Stay on that scooter and let your surgically repaired foot heal. Stay in shape and be ready to go 100 percent ths summer. That's when it matters.

*** Nick Schlossberg: Another practice field MVP who makes this team better every day and could play if needed. Someone has been watching over USC here to have this quality of walkon talent.

*** Olajuwon Tucker: We're starting to notice you. Find out where you fit in a linebacking/special teams corps that is shaking itself out the next three weeks.

SECONDARY

*** Ryan Dillard: Hard to believe you're going to be a senior this summer. Keep up the leadership role as a student and secondary guy who can fill in anywhere and do the job. An inspiration to USC's walkons everywhere.

*** Chris Hawkins: You've got the talent and the toughness. And all the confidence in the world. Get those techniques down at safety and corner and make yourself the indispensable man back there.

*** Adoree Jackson: At first, we thought tackling might be the one issue coming out of high school, but the more we see you, blocking and tackling and being physical on both sides of the ball aren't a problem. You welcome the contact. Now figure out how to use your time -- and talent -- on all three sides of the ball. That's all.

*** Jalen Jones: We don't get a chance always to pick out the walkons, especially the 5-8, 155-pound guys but it's been hard not to see you as just another impact Serra alum. Keep it up.

*** Jonathan Lockett: This is your chance. You had to step in as a rookie and survived the challenge with your ball skills and ability to anticipate, but now you're getting the chance to do it as a returnee. Make the most of it.

*** Matt Lopes: Another of USC's oh-so-important walkon class who can play. Keep the toughness and smarts that make you invaluable as a safety who can make plays, hit people and keep the ball in front of him.

*** Leon McQuay III: This is your time maybe more than anyone's. Fitting into the system instead of freelancing and making plays hasn't been an easy transition, but it looks like you're doing just that -- and taking over as the talkative leader -- on the field anyway -- that USC needs here.

*** Davonte Nunnery: Again, when you're a walkon and you're noticed out there, when we have to look up your number because of something you've done, then you're doing just what this team needs you to. Davonte is one of those.

*** John Plattenburg: Tough kid. Stay tough. Don't be afraid to lead even though it's your first full year on campus. Your ability to do that will cement this secondary. And catch the football when it comes to you . . . which it will.

*** Kevon Seymour: Now that we hear you're a leader on the nutrition side while dropping the dreads in order to make the best possible impression for the folks at the next level, just keep on keeping on in your drive to become an absolute shut-down, lock-down corner. Having one on both sides makes it a lot easier to make this defense for this team work in this league work.

*** Lamont Simmons: You've already got the one thing no one can teach: You're a 6-2 corner with aggressive quicks. And looking like you've benefited from the redshirt in the fall -- maybe more than anyone. Just keep playing like you belong out there because it looks like you do.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


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