The USC football team is off this week as they prepare for the upcoming fall camp that will begin on Aug. 8, but that doesn’t mean the “30 Key Trojans” countdown stops. We continue to bring you the 30 players that will provide the barometer for the Trojans season.
Which players’ success is key for the Trojans’ season to be a success? If this or that player is successful, how much will that propel USC’s team success?
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.
20. John Plattenburg - Sophomore
We break into the top 20 with sophomore safety John Plattenburg, who enters the fall as the starting strong safety. While the other safety spot is up in the air with Leon McQuay III and Chris Hawkins listed as co-starters, Plattenburg seemed to have locked down his starting role with his strong play at the end of the 2014 season.
As a true freshman, Plattenburg didn’t play much early in the season, seeing action in only the blowout against Fresno State through the first three games, but after USC’s porous effort against Boston College, he started seeing the field. At Arizona, he and fellow freshman Jonathan Lockett saw significant time in the second half due to injuries. A week later, Plattenburg made a career-high eight tackles against Colorado.
By the end of the year, he had started six of the final seven games, splitting his starts between free safety and strong safety. While he had his fair share of mistakes in 2014, including getting burned by Jaelen Strong in his only play against Arizona State, mistakes are expected from freshmen. During the spring, he established himself as the next starter at strong safety after Gerald Bowman’s graduation.
Plattenburg came to USC as a four-star cornerback from Houston (Texas) Lamar after being at Corona (Calif.) Centennial the previous two seasons. He has the ability to cover receivers in the open field when needed, but sometimes raises out of his stance too early in his backpedal when matched up one-on-one. He does like to pop would-be receivers or ball carriers when given the chance. One area where he could show improvement this year is creating turnovers. Plattenburg had multiple opportunities for interceptions that slipped out of his hands late in the season.
“I would say my season goal is to be invaluable. Being able to do whatever the team needs me to do in order to get where we want to go. That’s a big thing for me. Of course I want to better myself in different aspects when we’re practicing and stuff like that, but I just want to be able to do whatever they ask me to do. Just being invaluable.” — John Plattenburg
“As a returning starter at safety, Platt is as close to becoming the 'invaluable' guy he hopes to be. No longer a rookie, he's one of those players who just feels like he's been around longer than a single season. Part of that comes from his toughness, physical and mental. The other part is his maturity, an unwillingness to let himself off just because he was a freshman.
"He was very demanding and unwavering as to what he expected of himself. And with his quicks and strength and expectations of his own ability to perform and produce, he expected a great deal of himself. This season, he'll get the chance to be all he expected himself to be. Is he a finished product? Not yet. But he's not far from it." — Dan Weber, USCfootball.com
|20||John Plattenburg||68 pts||15 (Keely Eure)||29 (Austin Geller)|
|21||Damien Mama||49 pts||18 (Gerard Martinez)||27 (DanWeber)|
|22||Connor Spears||44 pts||13 (Austin Geller)||Not listed (Twice)|
|23||Max Browne||43 pts||19 (Twice)||Not listed (Shotgun Spratling)|
|24||Leon McQuay III||40 pts||17 (Ryan Abraham)||Not listed (Twice)|
|25||Osa Masina||39 pts||15 (Gerard Martinez)||Not listed (Keely Eure)|
|26||Darreus Rogers||36 pts||19 (Shotgun Spratling)||Not listed (Dan Weber)|
|27||Matt Boermeester||35 pts||18 (Dan Weber)||Not listed (Twice)|
|28||Chris Hawkins||34 pts||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)|