The Trojans relatively clean bill of health had been quite promising through the first week of Fall Camp, but news broke late Sunday night when USC officially announced that projected starting outside linebacker Jabari Ruffin would be out for the season with a torn ligament in his knee.
Ruffin was injured after being tackled during an interception return during Sunday's morning session, but following tests in the afternoon it was made clear the redshirt sophomore would be out for the rest of the season.
On a defense already lacking depth, the loss of an outside linebacker leaves the Trojans with major questions. Along with the loss of defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow, which was suffered during summer conditioning, and the recent short-term injury suffered by Antwaun Woods, the Trojans are getting much thinner up front.
USC will now look to former defensive end starter J.R. Tavai and Scott Felix (formerly Starr) to make an immediate impact at the outside linebacker position. The Trojans do have plenty of younger options that could compete for the job, such as sophomore Quinton Powell or true-freshman Uchenna Nwosu, but the loss certainly leaves a lasting mark on this defense.
"This is very unfortunate news about Jabari, but I know he will rehab well and come back strong next year," head coach Steve Sarkisian said in a USC press release. "And, I know our team will step up in his absence."
Last season, while appearing in 13 games (all but Notre Dame) and even starting at Hawaii, Ruffin had 22 tackles, including an eight-yard sack, and a forced fumble on defense. USC returns to the practice field at 2:30 PM on Monday for the second week of Fall Camp practice. The season kicks off at home on August 30th against Fresno State.