Defensive line spring preview

Now that the national championship season begins to fade into the distance it's time to move forward a take a look at the status of the Trojan team for the upcoming spring ball session. In this article, we'll focus on the defensive line:

It's a shame that Kenechi Udeze made the decision to test the NFL waters because if he had returned the Trojans would be looking at one of the all-time lines in college football history. Even with Udeze gone, however, there should be no tears shed for USC because they will return two of the most dominant players in the country with several other younger players who have seen some action and are ready to step into major roles.

Any discussion of the defensive line must start with Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson. Cody came back from his injured knee last knee and performed well enough to earn 3rd team All-American honors. His football savvy and toughness make him one of the most talented players around and he'll be a force during his senior year. Patterson was selected 1st team All Pac-10 and with Cody lined up next to him again we saw Mike put up impressive numbers from the nose guard spot.

Frostee Rucker looks to be the odds on favorite to earn the rush end spot vacated by Omar Nazel. Frostee was the starter at the end of the season when Omar was out with a hand injury and he should benefit from that experience. Lawrence Jackson really came on during the last half of fall camp and he will push to be the primary reserve behind Frostee.

At the other end spot, look for Van Brown and Chris Barrett to compete for Udeze's old job. If Barrett is healthy (shoulder concerns) it would stand to reason that he will have an athletic edge but Brown has a lot of physical skills as well. Alex Morrow spent a redshirt year on the service time and now will be his time to start stepping up to see if he can earn any time early in his career.

Among the reserves at tackle, one player who has Trojan fans excited for his future is Manuel Wright. We all know Manuel has the physical skills and that was certainly evident during his brief appearance in the Rose Bowl. He had a sack and tipped pass on back to back plays and should be a force to reckon with this spring. La Juan Ramsey has been a consistent back-up and could also see time at end if needed. One freshman who really impressed this year on the service team and in the weight room was Sedrick Ellis, look for him to start making his presence felt in spring ball. Travis Tofi and Ryan Watson will need to have a good spring in order to be considered for playing time.

Others arriving in the fall include Jeff Schweiger, Jimmy Miller and Lawrence Miles. Top Stories