Weekly Risers

The third week of spring practice was filled with big plays by some of the usual standouts, as well as some surprise players stepping up. Look inside to see which players improved their stock the most during the third week of spring ball.

Matt Barkley   -  6-2, 230  -  Quarterback
Analysis:  Matt Barkley has shown a lot of growth and maturity in his second spring as a Trojan. The sophomore signal-caller is in better shape, has displayed better mobility and has been tremendously accurate in the deep passing game. While Lane Kiffin insisted that every position is open, Barkley is clearly the top quarterback on the roster, and is really starting to emerge as a team leader on the offensive side of the ball. While the running game stalled during Saturday's 93-play scrimmage, Barkley was the star of the show, completing 21-of-30 pass attempts for 291 yards and five touchdowns.

Jawanza Starling  -  6-1, 190  -  Safety
Analysis:  It has been a very busy time of the year for USC sophomore Jawanza Starling. The talented defensive back from Tallahassee, Florida is competing for the starting job at free safety, while splitting time between the football field and baseball diamond. Starling's baseball schedule has only forced him to miss one football practice - and he has made the most of his time on the field. "Jawanza is playing really, really well and really sticking out for us," Lane Kiffin said. With Drew McAllister sidelined, Starling is the frontrunner to be the starting free safety in 2010 and has a very bright future ahead of him.

Jordan Cameron  -  6-5, 237  -  Tight End
Analysis:  The athletic senior moved from wide receiver to tight end and has been a weapon in the passing game this spring. With Blake Ayles, David Ausberry and Rhett Ellison all missing portions of practice with various ailments, Cameron has received plenty of reps with the first-team offense and has been very productive. The 6-5, 237-pound tight end had a touchdown in the first scrimmage of the spring, and really made a statement on Saturday, catching five passes for 72 yards and another score. Cameron needs to improve on his blocking but he has already shown that he could have a role as a pass catching tight end in 2010.

Nick Perry  -  6-3, 250  -  Defensive End
Analysis:  Defensive end Nick Perry is quietly becoming one of the most talented players on the entire USC roster. As a redshirt freshman in 2009, he racked up a team-best 8 sacks while playing multiple positions along the defensive line. This coming season, Perry will likely start at defensive end and should benefit greatly from the arrival of defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron. The 6-3, 250-pound lineman had a slow start to the week and didn't start Saturday's scrimmage, but he responded with arguably the best day of any defensive player - finishing with 5 tackles, 3 sacks and a tackles for loss.

Kyle Prater  -  6-5, 215  -  Wide Receiver
Analysis:   Freshman wide receiver Kyle Prater has shown plenty of potential on the practice field and is making his case to be the No.2 wide receiver behind Ronald Johnson in 2010. The highly touted early enrollee was slowed by a hamstring injury at the beginning of spring ball, but now close to 100 percent, he is becoming more productive with each practice. Prater showcased his playmaking ability this Saturday by pulling in a one-handed catch and racing down the sideline for a 40-yard touchdown. The 6-foot-5 freshman finished the scrimmage with two catches for 53 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

*Discuss more on the SCPlaybook.com message boards

If you haven't subscribed to SCPlaybook.com yet, give us a chance. Check out all the premium content and recruiting information you have been missing with a 7-Day Free Trial!

USCFootball.com Top Stories