Under the Radar Report

SCPlaybook's Kevin Carden takes a look at five backups on the USC roster that are ready to step up and contribute in 2009. Look inside to see which players showed they were ready to emerge this spring.

CB T.J. Bryant

The talented cornerback from Tallahassee really came into his own during the spring. Bryant now has a year of experience under his belt and is ready to be a big contributor in 2009. During the spring, he came up with several big plays and really shined during the scrimmages. The sophomore recorded 17 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception and a fumble recovery in the Trojans' four scrimmages.

According to Carroll: "He's really been a factor. He's a very good football player, got a real good overall sense of the game and continues to make things happen on a regular basis. He's consistent in his coverage and he's a playmaker."

FB D.J. Shoemate

Shoemate really stood out this spring with his production at the fullback position. The versatile sophomore is a perfect fit in USC's offensive system. Much like Stanley Havili, he has the skills to contribute in the passing game as well as on the ground. The move to fullback has allowed Shoemate to get on the field early in his career.

According to Carroll: "Another guy off the top that had a very good spring was D.J. Shoemate. He had a great spring at fullback. The number of things that we can do with him because of his receiver background showed up. He's probably the most improved player on the team and really developed a role for himself."

TE Rhett Ellison

Rhett Ellison doesn't have the upside of Anthony McCoy or Blake Ayles but he is a very reliable tight end that could start at several schools across the country. With Ayles out and McCoy banged up, Ellison made the most of his opportunity this spring, making catch after catch. Look for the redshirt sophomore to add depth and be used in the passing game.

According to Carroll: "Rhett's a really big time player. Anthony (McCoy) is the starter but he is going to play throughout, and those guys will play a lot together."

CB Marshall Jones

Marshall Jones moved from safety to cornerback and has really found a home at his new position. Jones was banged up a bit during spring, but when healthy he caught the eye of head coach Pete Carroll. He has good cover skills and isn't afraid to come up and make a play in run support. Jones will compete with T.J. Bryant and Brian Buacham to be the No.3 cornerback this season.

According to Carroll: "Marshall has been making plays here the second half of spring. He missed some time early but when he has been out here he has been very productive. That's huge for us. Marshall is kind of coming out of nowhere, coming over from the safety spot, but that helps us depth-wise. He has been physical and he's made big plays for us."

DE Mailk Jackson

With all the talented young defensive linemen on the roster, Malik Jackson sometimes doesn't get the attention he deserves, but make no mistake, he is a terrific looking pass rusher off the edge. Jackson has good burst off the ball and is one of the best pure rushers the Trojans have, along with Everson Griffen. The sophomore defensive end has great athleticism and should emerge as a real weapon coming off of the edge.

Just missed the list: Jordan Cameron, Jordan Campbell, Wes Horton and Uona Kaveinga.

D.J. Shoemate had a very impressive spring.

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at kevin@scplaybook.com

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