While the majority of the USC football team is taking care of conditioning and team player-run practices at Howard Jones Field, there is one group missing -- the specialists. But that doesn't mean we are going to leave them out of our countdown of the "30 Key Trojans."
We are counting down the 30 USC players 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.
That includes the specialists, who have rarely been seen this summer and who have a much less taxing regiment that they have to adhere to, but will play an essential role this upcoming season, so which of the specialists' success is key for the Trojans’ season to be a success starting with the Sept. 5 season opener against Arkansas State?
27. Matt Boermeester - Redshirt Sophomore
If you look at the USC headshots on the school's web site, Matt Boermeester looks like he has a huge secret that he's just absolutely giddy that no one else knows. There is not a single player with a bigger grin than Boermeester has. And why shouldn't the San Diego native being beaming?
When Boermeester graduated from Cathedral Catholic High School in 2012, he was essentially a washed up baseball player preparing to move on from his athletic background after hitting .235 in 33 games as a senior, according to Max Preps. He went to Saddleback College and only then did he take up the family legacy of kicking.
Peter Boermeester, Matt's father, kicked for UCLA from 1977-79, but Matt never played football. But with his father's assistance and inspiration, Matt took to kicking around the pigskin. Despite absolutely no game experience, the left-footer took to the kicking game quickly. At Saddleback Junior College in 2013, Boermeester hit 11 of his 13 field goal attempts with a long of 43 yards and was 43-of-48 on PATs.
That, combined with what they saw at the Chris Sailer kicking camps held at USC, was enough for the Trojans' coaching staff to offer Boermeester the initial blueshirt scholarship that sent all of the Pac-12 coaches and media members scrambling through the rulebook to see exactly what was going on.
Boermeester didn't play in 2014 with Andre Heidari and Alex Wood in front of him, but this year the job is open after Heidari's graduation. Wood and the 6-foot, 180-pound Boermeester battled back and forth throughout the spring, but it would seem the junior college transfer has a slight edge going into the fall, just by nature of being a scholarship players.
He also happens to have a booming leg that we've seen reach out beyond 50 yards with relative ease. He has no problem striking the ball from distance as is evidenced by the 52-yarder and 39-yarder he hit during the spring game. The question is keeping the ball between the uprights as his accuracy is still a work in progress. But if Boermeester is able to figure out some consistency, he could be a deadly long-distance weapon for USC.
If Boermeester struggles, the job could go to Alex Wood, who also showed his abilities in the spring game with 51- and 35-yarders. He served as the team's kickoff specialist for the final eight games last year, knocking 14 into the end zone for a touchback and had another 11 that pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line. Wood also was a perfect 12-for-12 on PATs when Heidari missed two games. The redshirt junior walk-on has showed is more than capable of filling in, if needed, so the Trojans shouldn't be in dire straights even if Boermeester doesn't win the job outright or has some midseason struggles.
“Matt has a natural 55-yard-range leg swing. His natural kick has that kind of distance. And just like a long driver in golf, it takes a big natural swing to do that even if it's his natural one. The longer the swing, the more it can get a bit off-center so that's really the issue -- staying in the middle.
"The good news is that since it's the left-legged Matt's natural swing, he can hit it from way out without having to try too hard. And then there's this. Alex Wood's leg strength, as evidenced from his kickoffs last season, has improved tremendously in his three years here.
So this position has a chance of coming through with a 1-2 punch even if they're both relatively inexperienced as the go-to field goal guys. They'll be working with a talented, veteran snapper-holder pair in Zach Smith and Conner Sullivan." — Dan Weber, USCfootball.com
|27||Matt Boermeester||35||18 (Dan Weber)||Not listed (Twice)|
|28||Chris Hawkins||34||21 (Twice)||Not listed (Twice)|
|29||Viane Talamaivao||23 pts||22 (Keely Eure)||Not listed (Three times)|
|30||Ykili Ross||21 pts||22 (Austin Geller)||Not listed (Twice)|