The Trojan key stars and vital prospects for the teams overall success were mentioned in the second week of preseason watch lists. These players, both in the trenches and in the linebacking corp, were honored on Monday.
Keep an eye on both Leonard Williams and Hayes Pullard, who have been mentioned in almost every significant defensive watch list to this point and could be in for even stronger campaigns under Justin Wilcox's free-flowing defensive scheme. The Trojans strength up the middle could directly result in controlling both lines of scrimmage.
The Butkus Award is given annually to the best linebacker in college football. The Trojans have two of the 51 players listed on the award's watch list, which looks to follow in the footsteps of last years winner C.J. Mosley (Alabama). The SEC leads the list with nine selections, followed by the Pac-12 with eight overall selections.
Hayes Pullard -Senior LB, anchor of the Trojans defense
J.R. Tavai -Senior LB, emerged on the scene once Ed Orgeron took over
The inclusion of Tavai on this list speaks to the DE's ability to make plays in the backfield. Once he acquired the starting job against Arizona, Tavai began wreaking havoc notching nine tackles and 0.5 sacks in the Trojans 38-31 victory. Tavai finished the year with 56 tackles (7th on the team) earning All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention.
2014 High School Watch List
USC five-star target John Houston Jr. (Gardena Serra)
The five-star prospect can cover the field sideline-to-sideline thanks to some incredible football instincts. Houston's very adept at slipping blockers with subtle swim moves and great vision displayed at the line of scrimmage. Last season, Houston finished with 137 total tackles (55 solo) and could be in for another outstanding high school campaign.
ROTARY LOMBARDI AWARD
Eligibility for the award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense or defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, or linebackers who set up no farther than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage. The candidates earned a place on the preliminary watch list by earning All-American honors, being named to their respective all-conference teams or receiving 2014 pre-season honors.
Hayes Pullard -Senior LB, led the Trojans in tackles in last season
Max Tuerk -Junior C, two-year starter and All-Pac-12 performer
Leonard Williams -Junior DL, All-American standout
WATCH LIST SEASON
July 14: Butkus Award / Rotary Lombardi Award
July 15: Biletnikoff Award Wed.
July 16: Davey O'Brien Award Thurs.
July 17: Doak Walker Award Fri.
July 18: Walter Camp Award