In this edition of the Ten of Troy, USCFootball.com's staff looks at the top 10 performers during the first week of spring practices. Please note that the rankings do not directly reflect the opinions of the Trojans football coaching staff.
Created by Gerard
Martinez | USCFootball.com
1. Juju Smith-Schuster | Junior | Wide Receiver | Long Beach (Calif.)
Smith-Schuster entered spring football as USC's No. 1 pro prospect and he has not disappointed despite the lessened importance of practice. Smith-Schuster doesn't know the difference between preparing for Notre Dame and the first week of spring ball. His energy, competitiveness and passion for the game is contagious. No one has more fun on the field than Smith-Schuster, yet no one works harder. He is clearly the quarterback's No. 1 target in team scrimmaging, but Smith-Schuster is also purposely dialing it back in seven-on-seven drills to make sure the young receivers get reps. The only other player that has flashed the same kind of dominance Smith-Schuster plays with every rep is Porter Gustin.
2. Leon McQuay III | Senior | Safety | Tampa (Fla.)
We temper our enthusiasm as spring football All-Americans sometimes disappear during the fall. Names like Herschel Dennis, Ryan Ting and Travon Patterson come to mind. However, Leon McQuay III's start to spring has been exciting and welcome. The former Armwood High School five-star safety had two interceptions in the first full pad practice and appears a step faster this spring. Reunited with Clancy Pendergast as defensive coordinator, this could be a bit of a rebirth for McQuay III. He has all of the physical skills to be an impact player at USC, but his field vision and feel for the game have to continue to improve.
3. Porter Gustin | Sophomore | Linebacker | Salem Hills (Utah)
Porter Gustin played well as a true freshman last season, but with that experience, he is looking even more confident and hungry this spring. In the first day of full pads, Gustin bullied USC's offensive tackles in team drills. On one specific play in team scrimmaging, he ran through the offensive line for a sack. While the quarterback was safe with a no contact jersey on, quarterback coach Tyson Helton felt the wrath of Gustin, who knocked Helton to the ground on the play. Gustin still has to work on varying his pass rushing techniques, but as scary as it will sound for USC opponents, he is also bigger, stronger and faster than a year ago.
4. Max Browne | R-Junior | Quarterback | Sammamish (Wash.)
Make no mistake about it, this is Max Browne's team. While the quarterback competition has been far from settled, Browne leads every drill, takes command of the huddle and has been very consistent with his passes this spring. After a week of football, none of the quarterbacks on the roster have really dazzled. Outside an occasional throw down field, Browne has led the way in checking down his passes and playing it conservatively. Browne has a bigger arm than Cody Kessler, as does Sam Darnold, so we wait in anticipation for the offense to push the ball down field more for a better sense of what each player is really capable of. Three practices in, we just don't have the reps to make that determination. What we do know is that Browne looks the part as a leader and has the offense running fairly smoothly snap to snap just a few practices in.
5. Uchenna Nwosu | Junior | Linebacker | Harbor City (Calif.)
Uchenna Nwosu was one of those project recruits USC signed in Steve Sarkisian's first cycle as head coach. Flying under the radar at Narbonne, Nwosu came to USC at about 210 pounds and raw. Nwosu now runs about 235 pounds despite his freshman listing. He has played inside and outside linebacker over the past two seasons, and because the personnel usage has not changed much with USC's new defensive scheme, Nwosu is a wildcard for the Trojans. He has the size to play inside, but this spring, his speed and agility have shown through in drills making him a potential SAM linebacker for USC come the fall.
6. Darreus Rogers | Senior | Wide Receiver | Carson (Calif.)
At times last season, Darreus Rogers looked to be a great option for Cody Kessler on third downs opposite of Juju Smith-Schuster. Unfortunately for USC, those times became few and far between as the season progressed. Rogers is playing the part this spring as another big, strong possession wideout opposite of Smith-Schuster. His blocking is improving in the run game and Rogers has made some circus catches in one-on-one drills that leave those in attendance wanting more. Rogers knows the offense and doesn't need the mental reps, but it would be nice for him to be the focal point in at least a couple of practices to build his dependability with the quarterbacks. On short and intermediate routes, Rogers offers many of the same attributes that make Juju Smith-Schuster a difficult player to defend.
7. Rasheem Green | Sophomore | Defensive End | Gardena (Calif.)
Rasheem Green started the 2015 season out slowly as he returned from ACL surgery his senior year in high school, but the true sophomore is coming into his own this spring. With four defensive lineman with starting experience existing from USC, Green is stepping up and proving to be the best pass rusher on the interior defensive line. It's a young group full of underclassmen, so unfortunately, Green is learning on the job while leading the class. That shows up in team run (nine-on-nine) more than any other practice period.
8. Isaiah Langley | Sophomore | Cornerback | Pleasanton (Calif.)
Of the players who appear to be making the biggest leaps from fall to spring, Isaiah Langley is at the top of the list after the first week of practice. Langley has still had his off reps getting beat, but overall, he has improved an incredible amount since last August. Fundamentally, Langley is more sound and he plays with much more confidence. Langley is the type of player that really steps up when it counts and has a couple of interceptions this spring to show for it. The fact that he played as a true freshman after a pretty rough fall camp in itself is impressive. With no Adoree' Jackson in the lineup this spring, Langley is capitalizing on his increased reps.
9. Zach Banner | R-Senior | Offensive Tackle | Lakewood (Wash.)
This is a contract year for Zach Banner and he knows it. Banner is all business this spring and he is working hard to correct any deficiencies in his pass protection. It's apparent that new offensive line coach Neil Callaway wants to protect his group by keeping things simple by attacking. With Banner back at right tackle, he is an anchor in the run game and Callaway is building around that. Banner is a great leader, and as we saw at the end of last season, the Trojans found a go-to facet of their offense running behind the 6-foot-9, 360-pound offensive tackle.
10. Chris Brown | R-Sophomore | Guard | Los Angeles (Calif.)
Zach Banner and Uchenna Nwsou both make the list as players who have gained valuable experience playing multiple positions the past two seasons at SC. Chris Brown is in that same category, as he has jumped around all over on the offensive line. Starting the first practice at left guard, Brown has actually gobbled up reps from Damien Mama. Is that for evaluation or is it Brown impressing the coaching staff in the film room? Brown's performance in spring just reiterates the girth of talent USC has on the interior offensive line. The Trojans have both depth and a quality front five using varying combinations of players at center or guard.