The offensive focus will be at the receiver position starting with Dwayne Jarrett. A well-sized, athletic wide out, Jarrett plays with outstanding balance, body control and consistently displays the ability to make acrobatic catches in a crowd. Effectively using the sidelines, he occasionally sneaks it downfield behind the defense. At the same time Jarrett presents himself as a sturdy receiver who makes the difficult reception in the middle of the field. A dominant force, Jarrett drops his share of catchable passes and all too often cradles the ball or lets the throw get inside him. He offers a good amount of upside potential and could make a big move up draft boards when he enters the 2007 draft, as most expect. Teammate Steve Smith is a reliable receiver and consistent football player who does the little things well. Possessing just ordinary size/speed numbers Smith is a late round pick and potential fourth receiver in the NFL. The next top offensive tackle from the USC program comes in the form of junior Sam Baker. An outstanding pass blocker, Baker uses terrific angles and body positioning to protect his quarterback. Consistently playing with a proper fundamentals, Baker is not a big-framed blocker and has difficulty finishing defenders off. Opinions will be mixed on Baker as to whether or not he possesses the size to handle the blind side tackle duties in the NFL yet based on film work he looks like first round material. Senior center Ryan Kalil is an intelligent blocker on the pivot who plays with nasty attitude. Fighting hard throughout the action, Kalil is explosive yet not a true dominator. Lacking bulk and having size limitations, he is likely late round material next April. Keep an eye on fullback Brandon Hancock who moves into the starting position this season. A solid athlete, Hancock is an effective lead blocker who also catches the ball well out of the backfield.
The Trojans offer a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball starting with junior end Lawrence Jackson. A terrific athlete with solid size and growth potential, Jackson displays outstanding speed off the edge or in pursuit from the backside. Making plays in every direction of the field, he is a disruptive force and will be a very early draft pick in the future. Counterpart Sedrick Ellis is an undersized but tenacious defender at nose tackle. Displaying an array of moves, Ellis is quick and chases hard to get involved in the action. In a nutshell Ellis is a poor man's version of Mike Patterson. A third junior to watch is weak side linebacker Keith Rivers. A terrific athlete who plays with great speed, Rivers is fast in every direction and covers a lot of area on the field. Showing tremendous sideline-to-sideline range Rivers also displays a good head for the ball and is very effective in coverage. Senior Oscar Lua is an explosive run defender at middle linebacker. While he shows ability in zone coverage Lua struggles in pass defense for the most part. Presently listed with the second team, his playing time will be limited this season and as a result Lua's draft stock will slip. Junior defensive back Josh Pinkard is another underclassmen with terrific upside. Pinkard has been effective at cornerback as well as safety and will be highly rated once he enters the draft.