Just some quick thoughts on what we're seeing at the summer throwing sessions -- and what it means.
*** Connor Spears changes the look of the offense. Having a tight end with the size and athleticism (6-6, 252) who can run dependable routes over and over again and catch the ball in a crowd matters. Having him here Monday changes the look of what this team can do -- especially with the unsettled personnel situation at the position.
*** Freshman Caleb Wilson may not be as far away as thought as a freshman tight end. He may top out at 220 pounds right now but the athletic 6-5 son of D-line coach Chris Wilson can really go up and get the ball and get open. Maybe the surprise of the summer.
*** Really liked the serious and smart way Iman Marshall approached his first day on the field. Also like the 6-2, 200-pound corner's combination of physical skills. He's big and strong up top allowing him to deliver a shot to a receiver in controlling him at the line of scrimmage but has the legs of a track guy who can turn and run with anybody. That's a combination you need -- and college football teams need -- to play the way you have to play today against the kind of offenses you're going to see -- especially in the Pac-12.
*** Combining Marshall with another freshman Ykili Ross and their arrival as first-line players will be determinative of where this defense can go -- allowing it to play press coverage, which USC clearly would like to do, and take chances and come from different places in front of the back line.
*** The freshman duo's ability to step up will also determine to some extent the amount of time USC can use Adoree Jackson on offense, where he'll be a threat every time he's on the field to take it all the way. Defenses will have to account for him every possession, allowing the likes of Juju Smith and Steven Mitchell single coverage much of the time.
*** Cody Kessler looks comfortable and in charge in his second year in this offense and third as a starter, as you might expect. We've said it before and will again: There are stretches here when the ball doesn't hit the ground unless one of Kessler's receivers does with every ball on target. He's been making some terrific throws on target.
*** Kenny Bigelow's ability to go hard for the full workout Monday was a good sign as was Antwaun Woods' interception and return to end practice. Having those guys back, rehabbed and able to play all the way will really matter here for the D-line. So far so good.
*** Tre Madden's shake-and-bake move on Scott Felix at the sideline a big highlight of the night, drawing hoots and hollers from his teammates who knew what it might mean if the big tailback is able to do that now.
*** Max Tuerk looks every bit the part of a senior All-American candidate and no longer the slim kid trying to grow into his position. Seems to have really filled out up top.
*** When you see the freshmen filtering in with the 6-5 guys (Porter Gustin, Rasheem Green, Kevin Scott, Christian Rector and the 6-6 guys, Noah Jefferson and Tyler Petite) getting together with the players already here who are 6-5 and better (Jordan Austin, Chris Brown, Max Browne, Damien Mama, Delvon Simmons and then the 6-6 guys in Roy Hemsley, Spears and Tuerk, Chad Wheeler (6-7) and Zach Banner (6-9), you have the tallest Trojan team we can recall.
*** But if their height gives USC a basketball team with 16 players 6-5 or bigger, how about the chances that this Trojan team might be favored to win a college football 4X100 relay with Jackson and Steven Mitchell being joined by two track speedsters in freshmen Ronald Jones and Dominic Davis, both 10.6 or better in the 100. The speed limit on this team has just been lifted.
Quick take on 3rd summer throwing session
Two more incoming freshmen here tonight although only DB Marshall was able to work out while D-lineman Green just observed . . . The freshmen, especially local guys like Marshall and Green, can come and work out in the players-run practices but not until they enroll can they participate in official team meetings and activities. Marshall doesn't graduate from Long Beach Poly until June 16 . . . Woods, with an INT and big circling return possibly for a Pick-Six although the offense may have let him score, had the fun highlight of the night . . . Chad Wheeler working with a supportive sock on his right calf, keeps jumping in there to start at left tackle in the 11 on 11 work . . . Lamar Dawson is moving well especially on his Pick-Six from out of nowhere against Kessler . . . Jackson, who was off to Oregon last night for the NCAA Track and Field Championships where he jumps Wednesday at 5:15, will get a week off when he returns, strength coach Ivan Lewis says . . . Just seven DBs here with Lamont Simmons having transferred out last Friday . . . a total of 70 Trojans made it for the 75-minute workout.CHECK THIS OUT: For more details and play-by-play on Monday's workout, check out MONDAY SUMMER THROWING SESSION 3 GHOST NOTES.
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