Kind of a quiet night Thursday for the players-only throwing session but that doesn't mean nothing happened. Actually, a lot did.
*** Jordan Simmons, a 6-foot-4, 350-pound oft-injured but full-of-potential redshirt junior who has never been healthy or completely in shape, worked out with the D-linemen and lined up at nose tackle in 11 on 11. The move from offense makes sense with two senior nose tackles, Antwaun Woods and Cody Temple, set to leave after this season. The move could give USC a big, strong veteran to line up at nose when the Trojans line up against Alabama in the 2016 opener.
*** Starting offensive left tackle Chad Wheeler, after knee surgery last season, was back with no knee brace or supportive sleeve, and stepped in to start in 11 on 11 with Toa Lobendahn, who started at LT after Wheeler's injury, sliding down to left guard with Damien Mama not here. Not only was Wheeler able to jump in, he's looking like his top half is catching up with his bottom half where he's always had a solid base with his legs. His upper body is looking bigger and more developed than we've ever seen the 6-foot-7 redshirt junior who's played at 280 pounds the last couple of years.
*** Senior tailback Tre Madden showed no lingering effects from his broken foot catching the ball on deep and short routes, running it and going in motion running full speed the way we remember him. Haven't seen him like this in a year and a half. Very encouraging to watch the 225-pounder get deep and catch the ball and do it again and again.
*** Even without incoming freshman Osa Masina, scheduled to arrive later in the month and with Jabari Ruffin not yet quite ready to go and with Hayes Pullard and J.R. Tavai hoping to catch on in the NFL, the linebacker corps is bigger, stronger, faster, deeper, more athletic and more talented with Anthony Sarao, Lamar Dawson, Scott Felix, Michael Hutchings, Cameron Smith, Uchenna Nwosu, John Houston and Don Hill, not to mention a trio at least of talented walkons.
*** How nice to have five quarterbacks out there, with two you could win with -- Cody Kessler and Max Browne -- and three freshmen along with WR/QB combo redshirt freshman Jalen Greene. That's a luxury USC didn't have in running this many plays every session.
*** But the best part of what we're seeing here every night has to be the battle between the secondary and the wide receivers and tight ends. The back and forth here is the kind of competition great teams must have. It builds so many things -- confidence, physicality, the ability to do things at top speed without having to stop and think about them. It's crucial for so much young talent to have it push one another as hard as these kids are doing that.
Quick take on 6th summer throwing session Thursday
The only "new" incoming freshman here and in just a cameo appearance after finishing up his track season was Alemany speedster Dominic Davis who watched the proceedings . . . Incoming freshmen Deontay Burnett and Caleb Wilson just keep catching everything thrown their way . . . Chris Hawkins shared the safety spots with Leon McQuay and freshman Ykili Ross . . . tonight's Pick Six interception came from freshman MLB Smith, who has a knack for knowing where the ball is and jumping the route. This night he did it to Kessler . . . Looked like 63 players here with O-lineman Damien Mama absent . . . a total of 18 players, including all three freshman QBs, most of the wide receivers and TEs, stayed for extra work after the 75-minute throwing session although Kessler encouraged them not to stay too late or run too much since there would be a great deal of running in the early conditioning workout Friday morning.CHECK THIS OUT: For more details and play-by-play on Thursday's workout, check out THURSDAY SUMMER THROWING SESSION 6 GHOST NOTES.
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