The backbone of the Trojan passing arsenal is its wide receivers. Although relatively unchallenged in real game situations, this group could be quite exciting.
Turner (6-5, 220) has the most experience of this collection of highly talented players, but that isn't saying much at all. As a sophomore behind Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith, Turner hauled in 29 catches for 272 yards (9.4yards per catch average). This is the extent of the experience for the wide receivers.
He will be called upon this year to fill the shoes vacated by Jarrett and Smith. Turner has shown steady hands and workman-like qualities since inheriting the "go-to" position. While not a flashy receiver, he is steady and should be a dependable pass catcher.
Slotted to fill the "Split End" position, Ausberry is loaded with potential. At 6-4, 225, he is a very large target. Ausberry sat out his freshman year as a redshirt, but performed service team duties.
Ausberry believes this helped his development. Throughout Spring and Fall Camps, Ausberry has shown an ability to make "showtime" acrobatic catches in the middle of traffic. Look for Ausberry to shine and make exciting plays this year.
Arriving on campus amidst confusion and much fanfare, Hazelton (6'3", 210), has tremendous capabilities. While he is listed as the second receiver behind Turner, the Trojans rotate receivers frequently and go to three and four receiver sets often.
Hazelton should see a lot of time on the playing field. He has good size, speed and sure hands. Bothered a little during Fall Camp with a minor groin injury, Hazelton appears ready to be a force.
This 5-10, 175 standout receiver from Poly High in Long Beach, CA has tremendous speed and good hands. Also hampered by minor injuries in Fall Camp, Patterson should not be overlooked. Before going down with injuries at the end of Spring Ball and coming into Fall Camp, Patterson showed lightning quick speed and ability to find open spots on the field. If he is 100% healthy he will be a major contributor to this ball club. Patterson is like a shiftier Steve Smith with speed to burn after the catch.
A former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship this fall, Walker (6-2, 215) is a steady, hard-working senior who is familiar with the offensive scheme of the Trojans. Listed as the back-up to Ausberry, Walker has the ability to make blocks, run routes and will be able to contribute to this club when called upon. Walker appeared in all 13 games last year and will be a key contributor to the special teams unit.
Green is the surprise of Fall Camp. Originally recruited in 2006 as a quarterback from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, CA, he originally served as a back-up quarterback. Early in 2006, he moved to safety and worked primarily with the special teams.
This Fall Camp saw some injuries to the wide receiver position and Green was called upon again to change positions. A testament to his athletic abilities, he has played the position well during camp. Green is a capable receiver and will be able to perform duties if called upon this season.
Ronald Johnson (6-1, 190) arrived in Fall Camp as a highly touted freshman receiver from Muskegon, MI. This speedy receiver has sure hands and can break tackles in the open field.
Pete Carroll has given Johnson every opportunity to contribute during Fall Camp and Johnson has answered the call. Look for Johnson to return kicks and punts and be placed in the rotation when circumstances dictate.
Johnson is the last receiver off the field after practice, spending extra time each day on catching technique.
Another impressive freshman, Carswell (6-2, 175), from Milpitas, CA has performed admirably in Fall Camp. Carswell has been a star of the service team, but also has shown the ability to catch the ball and run good patterns. Carswell has also fielded kickoffs.
Wide Receiver Summary
This is a highly talented group of receivers who all add a different talent. If Turner is recovered from a stinger from this week's practice, he should be the receiver looked upon to carry the workload for this Trojan Offense.
Ausberry will be called upon in the "Mike Williams" role, catching, running after the catch and finding open holes in the defense. Hazelton will be called upon to carry a part of the load as well. Patterson and Johnson have the potential to make a mark this year, and will both be given the opportunity to do so early in the year, if healthy.
Fourth year senior, Fred Davis (6-4, 250) is the elder statesman of this impressive tight end group. Davis has been a consistent tight end for the Trojans for the last two years going 13 catches for 145 yards (11.2 avg.) with two touchdowns in 2005 and 38 receptions for 352 yards (9.3 avg.) with three touchdowns in 2006. Look for Davis to increase these numbers in 2007.
A big 6-4, 255, Thompson has been with the program and understands blocking assignments and where to be for receptions. He is a consistent, hard working athlete who can contribute when called upon.
At 6-5, 255 McCoy is a large target when set in motion or in the opponent's secondary. The sophomore tight end has impressed during summer workouts and Fall Camp. A muscular, imposing athlete, look for McCoy to challenge for playing time this fall.
Another hard working big man, Miller (6-5, 250) also displays the ability to block and be downfield when needed. Not a speed burner, but he is another hardworking athlete who will be there when his number is called.
Probably an unsung star in a class of freshmen superstars, Ellison (6-5, 235) has shown flashes of brilliance when given the opportunity this Fall. Ellison is a talented freshman who is slightly undersized at 235 lbs., but you would not know it to see him on the field. Ellison could contribute, but will probably be more of a factor in his sophomore or junior year.
Tight End Summary
Davis has the years of experience to be a go-to tight end. McCoy (along with Davis) has the size and ability to make the position more of a weapon.
Like with the wide receivers, the full backs are a highly talented, if not unproven group of athletes coming into the 2007 season. Havili (6-1,225) is a redshirt freshman and has shown great abilities in Fall Camp. Havili is a tough blocker and speedy receiver with sure hands. Look for him to carry the burden of full back duties this year.
This 6-2, 240 juco walk-on redshirt sophomore (Saddleback College, CA) has turned heads in Fall Camp. Enough to leapfrog incumbent Jody Adewale in the depth chart. Goodman played tight end at Saddleback, but was more than happy to work as a full back for the Trojans. His skills and abilities is a welcome addition to the rotation.
Adewale (6-0,230) is a "feel good story" and the very definition of what it means to be a Trojan. Adewale redshirted his freshman year and struggled to remain on the football team while studying and supporting his family.
Adewale decided to quit the team in the spring to pursue a graduate study program, to work and support his family. He was asked to rejoin the team over the summer and decided to return. Adewale is in his fifth year and is a steady, reliable back for this group of full backs.
Another of the super freshman class of 2007, Campbell (6-0, 225) has shown the talent and ability to be a contributor to this football team. He suffered a shoulder injury at the beginning of Fall Camp, but still displayed brilliance in playing the position. If healed, he can play a role this year as a back-up full back.
Recruited as a safety out of Long Beach Poly, CA, Rowe (6-0, 205), this redshirt freshman was asked to switch to fullback to shore up the full back position. While injuries plagued the running back position during Fall Camp, Rowe got repetitions at both full back and tailback during an intra-squad scrimmage. Rowe will be a valuable back-up to the full back position.
Full Back Summary
Full back - a question mark last season because injuries wiped out the first four starters in the rotation, significant improvement should be seen this year. While in many systems, including USC's, the fullback may be used primarily as a blocking back or running back, the Trojans will line the full back up as a receiver and may also be utilized as an outlet receiver.
With this talented group, the full back may called on more as a receiver this year. Havili has shined as the first full back this Fall, and should contribute significantly. Goodman has shown a knack for the position and the ever giving Adewale will contribute his knowledge and abilities to this group.
The Wild Card
Freshman tailback Joe McKnight has shown the talent to line up as receiver for the Trojans. He will line up in various positions, including receiver as the season progresses. Look for both McKnight and Ronald Johnson to line up in various positions on the field. The two may also return kicks and punts during the season.
Much has been said about the "embarrassment of riches" at the tailback position at USC, overloaded with talented All-American backs. A less vaunted receivers group is also stacked with All-Americans and super talent. The big question mark, is that virtually none of these receivers have spent significant time on the field in college games. The talent is there; proving their abilities at the college level is the task at hand for these talented athletes.