Many people believe USC has the talent this year to be a potential national title contender. But just who are the key players for the Trojans? Which players are the indispensable workhorses and playmakers that USC would not be able to live without?
That was the impetus behind the “30 Key Trojans.” As we head toward fall camp and then opening game, we will be counting down the 30 USC players that are most important to the Trojans’ success this season. This list is not the 30 most talented players or the 30 players that will put up the best stats, but instead the guys that could propel USC to a successful season.
Which players’ success is key for the Trojans’ season to be a success?
30. Ykili Ross - Freshman
The countdown starts with one of the incoming freshman that could produce impactful plays in all three facets of the game. It's fitting that Ykili Ross is wearing No. 30 this season. He wanted a different number, but the problem is that he is so versatile, the equipment staff had to find him a number that no other player had because Ross is liable to be on the field at any time -- offense, defense or special teams.
Ross is a unique player that the Trojan coaching staff will give a shot on both sides of the ball after he was an absolute stud for Riverside (Calif.) Poly last season. His stock soared as the 6-foot-2, 185-pound playmaker showed he was capable of being a national top 50 player at three different positions — receiver, cornerback and safety.
On offense, he caught 50 passes for 988 yards (19.8 avg) and 15 touchdowns in 2014. Teams avoided him as much as possible on defense last season, but he still managed 19 tackles, three interceptions — taking one back for a pick six — and two deflections on defense.
The four-star recruit even showed on special teams that he is the type of guy you have to figure a way to get the ball in his hands. He took two of the six kickoffs he returned to the house and averaged 46.2 yards per return. He also returned 12 punts for an average of 18.3 yards.
To cap his high school career, Ross participated in the Inland Empire-Orange County Classic all-star game where he produced a showstopping performance with two receiving touchdowns, an interception returned for a touchdown and he even recovered a kickoff.
“Ykili Ross is another two-way standout player — a guy who plays DB and also plays the WR spot. We’re going to take a look at him at both, but his athleticism is unbelievable. He’s got great height at about 6-foot-2. He has tremendous versatility.”
“Ross fits USC's scheme extremely well. He's the type of player, who physically, can play defensive back as a single high safety or he can move into the box. But with his great receiving skills, he can also play cornerback or nickel back in a pinch.
"Ross is sort of emblematic of what USC covets in secondary players because he is as versatile as a Swiss Army Knife. It's that versatility which will get him on the field, whether it be on defense or on special teams. He also has the work ethic and mindset to ignore how big the moment is." — Gerard Martinez, USCfootball.com
|30||Ykili Ross||21 pts||22 (Austin Geller)||Not listed (Twice)|