Spring football is here ladies and gentlemen along with a new team and some new coaches. Spring ball is one of the best times for fans to scout up and coming starters as well as the favorite familiar faces that USC fans are excited to watch play college ball for another year. With a Pac 12 Championship under their belt, this season’s set of Trojans have the bar set high. Here are our players we can’t wait to watch this Spring.
Dina—Bubba Bolden, S
The 6’3”, 190-pound sophomore out of Bishop Gorman will get to compete for position playing time at safety in 2018.
A former four-star recruit and U.S. Army All-American, Bolden racked up 11 interceptions, 243 interception yards, and 112 tackles under the Friday night lights. He was a touted recruit boasting 22 offers, that chose the Trojans over Ohio State and Arizona State.
For USC in 2017, Bolden had some clutch moments for the Trojans on special teams. He played 13 games and had eight tackles, three coming against UCLA and two against Texas.
With veterans Marvell Tell III and Ykili Ross, and shiny new prospect Talanoa Hufanga joining the squad, Bolden will have to intercept some starting playing time, something he is more than capable of doing. Coming out of high school there was a lot of hype around the Las Vegas native, I can’t wait to see him in game time action at his chosen position.
Richard—Michael Pittman Jr., WR
The bevy of injures USC suffered last season saw a diminutive slot receiver in Deontay Burnett be thrust into a top receiver role. Once the injuries passed, the Trojans ended up with a receiving unit that had Burnett slide into his natural slot, freshman Tyler Vaughns lining up a the “Z” and sophomore Michael Pittman Jr. out wide as the “X”.
Minus Burnett, this formation should remain the same—meaning Pittman will be USC’s primary receiving option. With injuries hitting Pittman in camp and early in the season, he played in only six games where amassed 23 receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns. Standing at 6’4” and weighing 215 lbs. (let’s not forgot his NFL pedigree, too) Pittman has flashed serious playmaking ability which makes the former four-star recruit one of the more intriguing players to keep an eye during camp.
Pittman finished his season strong with one USC’s most memorable plays in 2017 in the season finale against UCLA and had a monster game in the Pac-12 Title game putting up seven catches for 146 yards and one touchdown. Whether it be JT Daniels or Matt Fink, a healthy Michael Pittman Jr. in camp will the transition to starting QB a bit smoother
Matthew—Matt Fink, QB
USC head coach Clay Helton will have a tough job figuring out who will to replace quarterback Sam Darnold. Incoming freshman JT Daniels won’t be on campus until the fall which means Matt Fink and Jack Sears will compete this spring. I’m excited to see Matt Fink out of the two.
Last season Fink snaps during garbage time and a few when Darnold had to sit down with an Injury during the Notre Dame game. In the game against Oregon State, Fink broke off a 50 yard run for a touchdown which had a lot of people raving about it for the whole week. He brings an athletic ability that offensive coordinator Tee Martin could utilize running a zone read. While he may not be the better passer of the two, He does know the playbook and can extend plays.
Fink will have a talented group of receivers around him and two solid running backs this spring. This will be his shot to have a leg up on the competition come Fall camp.
Josh—Porter Gustin, LB
The 2017 college football season did not go according to plan, at least not for the now-senior defensive end/linebacker. Heading into last year expectations were high after a really solid 2016 campaign but, ultimately, Gustin’s year was cut short due to injuries.
Standing at 6’5” and 265 pounds, Gustin is physical, athletic, and —when healthy,a rather productive player who will hopefully be able to make his presence felt. The need to replace Uchenna Nwosu (9.5 sacks) and Rasheem Green (9.5 sacks) will be the main reason why the Trojans hope Gustin steps up and reclaims the image of his former self. This defense will need every ounce of playmaking ability they can get from their leaders on defense - Gustin included.
There is a wealth of youth on both sides of the ball so expect to see some growing pains. Despite that, I am excited to see how Porter Gustin handles the role of being a leader for this USC squad.