Sam Darnold is obviously the biggest name on the USC roster, maybe even in the nation – but who are the targets he'll be throwing to? Here we will provide a quick look at the group of receivers and tight ends whom Darnold will rely on most, as well as who may turn some heads come the start of the season.
Projected: Michael Pittman, Jr. (#6)
Height/Weight: 6' 4”, 210 lbs
Michael Pittman, Jr. is expected to be the number one receiver lined up on the outside this season for the Trojans. Pittman is coming off a freshman season where he sat behind the likes of experienced vets Juju Smith-Schuster, Darreus Rogers, and Deontay Burnett.
While he only accumulated 82 yards receiving on 6 receptions, he has shown flashes and enough promise to warrant a starting spot on this squad.
Projected: Jalen Greene (#10)
Height/Weight: 6'1”, 200 lbs
Class: Junior (RS)
The player that looks to line up opposite Michael Pittman, Jr. is Jalen Greene. It will be very interesting to watch Greene develop as the season progresses. From Reign of Troy:
The coaches like Greene’s all-around ability, his reliability and knowledge of the offense, having played quarterback in the past. Make no mistake though, he’s also a capable athlete with strong pass catching ability.
It's this kind of versatility that can really open up USC's offense.
Projected: Deontay Burnett, Jr. (#80)
Height/Weight: 6'1”, 170 lbs
This was one of Sam Darnold's favorite targets during the 2016 season, as he amassed 56 receptions, 622 receiving yards, and 7 touchdowns. He returns having the most chemistry and history with Darnold, making it easy to see why he may this continued success during the 2017 season.
There will be a handful of receivers coming off the bench and, hopefully, making an impact on the field. One player of note who can make some noise this year is Tyler Vaughns (sophomore). Vaughns has turned some heads during the spring and could legitimately make enough plays to garner continued consideration to be put on the field more regularly. Along with Vaughns, Trojan fans can expect to see the likes of Joseph Lewis (freshman), Josh Imatorbhebhe (redshirt freshman), Randal Grimes (freshman), Steven Mitchell (redshirt senior), Trevor Sidney (redshirt freshman), and Velus Jones, Jr (redshirt freshman).
Projected Starter: Daniel Imatorbhebhe (#88)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 240 lbs
Class: Sophomore (RS)
Daniel Imatorbhebhe, in 2016, recorded 17 receptions for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns which, by all intents and purposes, was a breakout year. From Reign of Troy:
After a breakout season in 2016, Imatorbhebhe is set up to take on an even bigger role as an already established weapon in the USC passing game. The loss of Darreus Rogers and JuJu Smith-Schuster could lead to even more reliance on the big tight end.
Look for the sophomore tight end to make more noise in 2017.
Backup Tight Ends
Looking to gain some playing time behind Imatorbhebhe are the likes of Tyler Petite (Jr), Cary Angeline (RS Fr), Josh Falo (Fr), and Erik Krommenhoek (Fr). Most notable, though, is Petite - he lost the starting spot to Imatorbhebhe last season but may have an opportunity to get more playing time this year if Imatorbhebhe struggles at all.
All in all, it should be an exciting season on the offensive side of the ball at USC!