Figuring out the offensive line

With three starters gone, Neil Callaway has been busy this spring trying to find the right combination of players for the next generation of the USC offensive line.

USC offensive line coach Neil Callaway is a man of few words, at least when he is talking to the media. But with multiple positions open in his group. the Georgia native has been a popular person to talk to after spring practices. 

On Tuesday the first real offensive line shakeup of the spring occurred with Roy Hemsley moving from right tackle to left guard and Chris Brown moving from left guard to right tackle. However, this move was all part of the plan heading into spring ball.

"We're really trying to find the best combination right now," head coach Clay Helton said after practice. "We made that plan going into the spring. We wanted about halfway through be able to switch it and see where they feel the most comfortable at and who is producing the best at which position. We got through the first scrimmage now we will take the next six practices and hold form here, let Roy play left guard, let Chris play right tackle and see how they execute, find the perfect match."

Brown played in all 13 games last season for the Trojans and he even started the opener against Alabama. But Damien Mama quickly took over that left guard spot and Brown saw most of his work on special teams. Brown has also worked out at center, showing versatility that should help him as the coaching staff figures out the starting rotation.

"Chris has done well," Callaway said. "He's had a good spring, we played him at left guard and we moved him to right tackle right now, just kind of experimenting. How it winds up I'm not sure but I'm happy with the work he has done. Chris can play every spot."

Hemsley only saw action in two games last season, but the 6-foot-5, 310 pounder from Windward has been working exclusively with the first team offensive line this spring. Abraham

"Roy was working at right tackle now he is at left guard," Callaway said. "Roy still needs to improve and work on some little things and playing harder."

Callaway certainly keeps his cards close to the vest as he puts the pieces together on this offensive line.

"We've just got find the best five, you know what I'm saying, and that's what we are trying to do," Callaway said. "We have not got all of the answers yet, but we are gaining on it."

Callaway shared a few thoughts on some of the other members of the line.

On Jordan Austin: "Jordan making progress, we are working him right now at left guard and he still has work to do. He's a good guy and working hard."

On Chuma Edoga: "Chuma has made some progress, obviously he is very athletic. Chuma has to become more consistent and he's working towards that, but he's not where he needs to be by any means."

On Clayton Johnston: "He needs to get better."

On Frank Martin: "Made some improvement. We moved him to center. Obviously it's kind of foreign to him at first, but to be honest with you, under the conditions he's done a nice job."

On Cole Smith: "He's done a good job, getting a lot of reps, tough guy that really works hard. I'm tickled to death with Cole. He's very dependable. We'll just keep working and see."

On Viane Talamaivao: "Viane's had a good spring. Viane needs to work and master the little things, the detail stuff, to be an expert at everything he does. But he's had a good spring."

On Andrew Vorhees: "Really happy that he's here, first of all. I think he's gotten a lot better. Obviously it's a whole lot faster than what he's use to, but under the circumstances I think he's done a nice job."

Stay tuned to for more updates from spring football 2017.


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Ryan Abraham has been the publisher of since 1996. You can follow him on Twitter at @InsideTroy or email him at

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