With all the talk about the depth USC has at running back the only talk of the receiving corps is about will they be able to replace Smith and Jarrett. Of course that is an important question but we need to look forward at what we have in the stable and not at what has already left the barn.
The expected #1 and #2 receivers are Patrick Turner and Vidal Hazleton but incoming freshman Ronald Johnson is making his own statement in fall camp and David Ausberry has matured since being on the service team and his presence along with Jamere Holland, Travon Patterson, and Brandon Carswell will turn questions into what could be another log jam of talent. Of course there are always some ifs, we have some guys dinged up in camp but unless it is a serious injury I expect every one of these receivers to either contribute right away or be ready to go when someone ahead of them goes down.
We have already noted that Patrick Turner will be in a leadership role. His leadership is the key to setting the tone, as he is the most experienced at the position.
From the August 8th LAT:
"It's cool to have a guy like Curtis Conway come back," said Turner, who caught 29 passes last season. "He'll tell us some tips."
Turner and sophomore Vidal Hazelton began training camp as starters.
Hazelton impressed early in training camp last year, but struggled with the complexities of the offense and caught only one pass during the season.
"It's a lot easier than last year," he said. "I can just go out and play more instead of, 'Oh, I'm a freshman. What do I have to do?' And being worried about doing the wrong thing.
"It's more fun now."
I think Hazelton still has a lot to prove. There is no doubt that he struggled last year but it is also clear that he improved his game this year. He has some serious competition behind him but if he continues to improve his spot as the #2 receiver could be secure. The whole family controversy in regards to his recruitment/commitment to USC might have distracted him a bit last year but now with that in the past, he has the chance to make his own mark in this high-powered Trojan offense.
Then there is David Ausberry. From yesterday's LAT:
Not that he minded last season's grueling and relatively anonymous work.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Ausberry relished preparing the Trojans' defense for opponents, especially the extensive work against first-team cornerbacks and safeties. For his effort, and his vast improvement, he received an award and an ovation at the team's postseason banquet.
Ausberry's dynamic performance through the first week of training camp also produced cheers from coaches and teammates.
He has been particularly effective inside the 20-yard-line.
"He's got great feet, he's got loose hips," USC receivers coach John Morton said. "Usually, big guys don't have that kind of athletic ability."
Ausberry had a diving reception along the sideline for 18 yards in the scrimmage.
No one said it would be easy getting settled into this offense, just ask Mitch Mustain, but these guys do not quit and they are extremely competitive. Ronald Johnson has lived up all that we thought he could be with 2 big kick returns for 50 and 52 yards and 9-yard touchdown catch from Aaron Corp.
I think these guys are going to be as fun to watch as the all those tailbacks we have. Once the offense gets up to speed we will see a lot out of these guys.