There are now less than seven weeks until USC football officially kicks off the 2015 season against Arkansas State on Sept. 5 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The players have a few more team runs and player-run practices before taking a short break to prepare physically and mentally for the grind that is the season, starting with fall camp on Aug. 8.
While there’s a short break for the players, the USC fans just want this offseason break to be over and for the games to begin. With that in mind, we’re trying to ease the burden of the offseason with the countdown of the “30 Key Trojans” to get the fans prepared for the upcoming season.
This countdown features 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.
Which players’ success is key for the Trojans’ season to be a success?
25. Osa Masina - Freshman
We break into the top 25 with our second freshman, Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton linebacker Osa Masina. Listed at 6-foot-4, 245-pounds, Masina is a monster. Physically, he already looks the part of a seasoned veteran and the unique skill set that he brings makes him a special talent.
He’s already shown in the player-run practices that he’s fully capable of going from one side of the field to the other with a quickness. He has excellent lateral mobility and much the way Leonard Williams had an innate ability to never get caught up in the trash, Masina does an excellent job of navigating traffic to get to the ball.
Unafraid of contact, Masina has shown the ability to take on and shed blocks to get to the ball carrier. He also is an intelligent and unselfish player that knows when to take on the block to force a ball carrier back to his teammates, such as he was doing in the photo at top. But his athleticism often allowed him, in high school, to force the ball carrier one way, disengage from the defender and then make the play himself.
The transition doesn’t look like it will be a difficult one for Masina. He already appears to be fitting in with his teammates well socially and it’s unlikely that the coaching staff will be able to keep him on the bench. He will earn some playing time at linebacker, but he’s so versatile that we may not know exactly what position until fall camp.
Masina is slated to play behind Anthony Sarao, who the coaching staff seem pretty confident in at WILL linebacker. But like many of the top freshmen we see being able to make an immediate impact, Masina could play any one of the four linebacker positions on the field.
He's big, agile, aware and fast. You don't see a lot of 6-foot-4 linebackers change direction out of a backpedal like Masina. He's not quite Su'a Cravens in terms of spacial awareness, but like Cravens, Masina also spent time on the offensive side of the ball in high school, which allows him to be completely at ease transforming himself from enforcer to offensive skill player when he sees the ball in the air.
His senior season, Masina had 98 tackles with 10 sacks, an interception, two fumbles forced, two fumbles recovered and a safety while rushing for 596 yards on 94 carries (6.3 avg) with eight touchdowns. Two of his 11 receptions also went for scores as he finished with 168 yards (15.3 avg).
ON HIS COMMITMENT TO USC:
“Osa Masina is a fantastic linebacker prospect. He’s a guy who can really play inside or come off the edge to rush the passer. He’s really athletic on offense as well, so we might take a look at him on the offensive side of the ball. He’s a very versatile athlete.”
“Osa Masina has the ability to make an early impact for the Trojans due to his blend of size, instincts and athleticism. The true freshman has the ideal frame to be an every down player for USC down the road, but could have an early impact on special teams and in passing situations.
Masina has the athleticism to come off the edge or to drop into coverage. The speed of the game will take some adjusting to, but by midseason, Osa has a chance to be a premiere freshman out West.
The best is yet to come for the former five-star. Give him another year or two in the weight room and Masina will be a top tier player at USC, in the Pac-12 and potentially on the national scene as well." — Doug Kimmel, former Scout Mountain West Regional Analyst
From the Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio:
And check out these Osa Masina highlights from his senior season:
|25||Osa Masina||39 pts||15 (Gerard Martinez)||Not listed (Keely Eure)|
|26||Darreus Rogers||36||19 (Shotgun Spratling)||Not listed (Dan Weber)|
|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)|