2005 Defensive Back preview

This secondary unit in 2005 could be as talented as any defensive backfield we have seen during the Pete Carroll era with a pair of hard hitting safeties and an athletic senior corner but the key to the overall success will be finding a solid corner to man the final spot in the group. Click below for an in-depth look:

The Trojans must replace two starting members of the secondary from last year, one expectedly and one unexpectedly, and it was the sudden loss of Eric Wright at corner which places the one question mark on the group. There is certainly a clear cut leader for the vacated spot as Terrell Thomas seems more than ready to step into the role and it will be good for whoever gets the job to know that they are surrounded by a lot of experience.

2005 Defensive Backs

Justin Wyatt (photo) is set at one starting corner position and he is a veteran with good cover skills, good change of direction and nice speed but it was his physical play in the Orange Bowl which opened a lot of eyes to how good he can be. Justin is also basically a coach on the field (he was the valedictorian of his high school class) and he carries that learning ability to the film room where he studies not only his responsibilities on the field but the concepts of how the overall defense works together. You can be sure he will be a mentor to whoever wins the starting spot opposite him.

So far Terrell Thomas has made the most of the opportunity presented to him by the departure of Wright as he took control of the starting job during spring and is showing no signs of giving it up. Terrell was pretty physical in spring and he has the size and ability to be a major playmaker at the spot. Terrell was fighting Eric Wright in fall camp for the starting job last year and was holding his own until a recurring shoulder injury held him back. If Terrell can stay healthy, there isn't any reason to think that he won't be a steady performer in this conference with a bright future.

There are several other options at corner as well. One of the priorities in the off-season was to bring in a junior college corner and Pete Carroll found one in Mozique McCurtis from Grossmont College. "Zeke" has an unusual body type for a corner but he combines his big frame with the necessary speed to succeed at the position against the bigger receivers in college football today. John Walker has a real opportunity to make an impact in his senior year as he has finally settled on a position after alternating between corner and wide receiver last season. Walker was hurt during spring ball with a wrist injury which cost him valuable practice time but he is healthy during summer drills and ready to contribute. A pair of true freshmen could easily end up in the mix as Kevin Thomas and Cary Harris both bring good skills to the table. Thomas is rangy with long arms while Harris is known for his speed. During spring drills we saw several walk-ons get playing time and guys like Jerry Williams, Alex Gomez and Jim Abbott showed that they can compete if needed.

There may not be a pair of bigger hitters playing safety anywhere in the country than the ones roaming the field for USC. Darnell Bing has long been known for his physical prowess which has allowed him to succeed at a certain level so far in his career but with his obvious skills the expectations from Trojan fans are great and this is the year Darnell is expected to take his game to an even higher level. His coaches say Darnell has a greater understanding of what he is doing on the field and that should translate into more big plays from the soft-spoken junior. The key to the success of secondary could be Scott Ware (photo) as he takes over for Jason Leach at free safety. Ware is a hard-nosed hitter who put on a show this spring with big hits on an almost daily basis. His performance in the Cal game last season was a tackling clinic and it was the only real opportunity we had to see him for meaningful playing time all year. Now the starting job is his and he is ready to take advantage of the opportunity.

The future looks to be in good hands at the safety spot as well with Josh Pinkard and Kevin Ellison serving the primary back-up roles. Pinkard is a tough hitter in his own right and he can play either strong or free. The emergence in spring of Ellison, a freshman who graduated early from high school in order to take part in spring drills, will allow Pinkard to work primarily at free safety while Ellison backs up Bing at strong. Kevin is a very smart football player who understands the game and the coaches feel comfortable with him after seeing how fast he picked things up in spring.

Twin brothers Ryan and Brandon Ting are also available and they have shown to be dependable players who can be counted on for special teams duties and reserve roles when needed. The brothers are good athletes who can both switch to corner for nickel back situations in addition to their duties at safety. Will Harris is an incoming freshman who has a tremendous frame and a lot of natural athletic ability.

Overview

With Bing and Ware roaming the secondary it gives Pete Carroll a pair of aggressive players to carry out his mission of going after the ball and, assuming Thomas can step into the starting spot opposite Wyatt, this should be an extremely fast and physical group with a good mix of younger players waiting in the wings.

Defensive Back roster

#4 Kevin Ellison 6-0, 220 FR
#7 Cary Harris 6-0, 180 FR
#9 Mozique McCurtis 6-1, 225 SO
#15 Kevin Thomas 6-1, 175 FR
#16 Chase McWhorter 5-8, 190 SO
#18 John Walker 6-0, 200 SR
#20 Darnell Bing 6-2, 220 JR
#22 Jim Abbott 5-10, 175 FR
#24 Justin Wyatt 5-10, 185 SR
#26 Will Harris 6-2, 200 FR
#28 Terrell Thomas 6-1, 195 SO
#29 Scott Ware 6-2, 215 SR
#30 Jerry Williams 5-10, 170 JR
#31 Jamel Williams 5-10, 170 JR
#36 Josh Pinkard 6-1, 200 SO
#38 Brandon Ting 5-10, 180 JR
#39 Ryan Ting 5-10, 180 JR
#46 Alex Gomez 5-10, 180 SR

Projected Depth Chart to start fall camp

CB – Wyatt, Walker
CB – Thomas. McCurtis
SS – Bing, Ellison
FS – Ware, Pinkard

Returning Stat leaders

Bing 63 tackles (40 solo), 8 TFL, 7 pass break-ups
Wyatt 40 tackles (34 solo), 4.5 TFL, 7 pass break-ups
Ware 16 tackles (9 solo)
Pinkard 9 tackles (6 solo)
* Bing is the leading returning tackler on the defense

2005 USC Position Previews

Thursday, July 7th - Linebacker
Monday, July 11th - Defensive Line
Thursday, July 14th - Defensive Back
Monday, July 18th - Special Teams
Thursday, July 21st - Offensive Line
Monday, July 25th - Wide Receiver
Thursday, July 28th - Tight End
Monday, August 1st - Running Back
Thursday, August 4th - Quarterback


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