Kedon Slovis is out to prove a Heisman Trophy worthy campaign in 2020. He lost his most-targeted receiver from a season ago.
Yet, that shouldn’t matter this year.
Michael Pittman Jr. saw 133 total targets a year ago, eclipsing the 100-catch threshold with a final statistical line of 101 catches, 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns.
But, the Trojans return a duo, not just one player, two players who also saw over 100 targets their way and who could easily break that 100-catch barrier in 2020.
Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown make up easily one of the nation’s top receiver duos for 2020. Vaughns caught 74 passes for 912 yards and six scores while St. Brown had 77 catches for 1,042 yards and six touchdowns.
Vaughns was a contested-catch waiting to happen while St. Brown is a yards-after-catch threat no matter where he hauls it in.
Both have their strengths, and when push comes to shove, really no weaknesses as they can run precise routes, dominate man coverage and find holes in zone. They both stand at least 6-foot-1 (6’2 in Vaughns case) and can easily be the biggest receiver on the field when looking at the opposing secondary.
They’re both locks to be drafted in the 2020 NFL draft, and St. Brown has seen his name lofted around the first round even.
They’re in line to see easily more targets per game than they did last year, and that’s without even mentioning the depth behind them, which is a whole other impressive feat for USC this season.
Even without Kyle Ford in 2020, the Trojans have Drake London (who caught 39 balls for 567 yards and five scores last year) and potentially the best Pac-12 receiver (if practice reports amount to anything) in Bru McCoy. That also doesn’t mention TE Erik Krommenhoek and running backs Stephen Carr and Vavae Malepeai, each who scored a touchdown out of the backfield through the air last year.
True freshman Gary Bryant Jr and Joshua Jackson Jr are also interesting prospects to watch in 2020, and especially because their eligibility won’t be used up this season due to an NCAA rule that allows all players to play in 2020 without losing eligibility.
As far as their opponent in Week 1, the Arizona State Sun Devils allowed USC to throw for 477 yards last season on just 33 completions. They also allowed more than 200 passing yards in all but four games last year, and those were to teams who don’t necessarily pass the ball very well (Utah, UCLA, Cal — and, well, Kent State).
Vaughns caught four balls for 39 yards while St. Brown caught eight passes for 173 yards and a score. It’s likely one of those two, if not both, have similar days to St. Brown’s career-day against ASU last year.
The future is sky high for this group at pass-catcher, not just receiver, for the Trojans.
And fortunately for them, they have a Heisman-caliber quarterback slinging it to them for the next two seasons (at least).