We are just over a month away from kickoff and more Pre-season honors are starting to be released. This time the Pac-12 released it’s pre-season All Pac-12 Team for the upcoming 2019 season. Four key players from USC made their appearance on conference the pre-season list.
Senior wide receiver Micheal Pittman Jr., sophomore wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, redshirt senior defensive end Christian Rector, and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jay Tufele were named to the pre-season All Pac-12 Team.
Pittman Jr. and Tufele made first team All Pac-12 while Brown and Rector were on the second team. Wide receiver Tyler Vaughns, linebacker Palaie Gaoteote, offensive lineman Austin Jackson, and safety Talanoa Hufanga were honorable mentions. All four players also received pre-season award honors last week. Pittman Jr. and Brown were named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list, Tufele was named to the Bednarik award watch list, while Rector appears on the Lott IMPACT trophy watch list.
Coming off a disappointing 5-7 season, Its not surprising to see that the Trojans only have four players receive all PAC-12 team honors. If USC can have that bounce back season and players can perform to capabilities, then you can expect more players to receive those All Team honors at the end of the season. Pittman Jr. and Brown were the team leaders in receiving yards. Those numbers could now grow in a pass happy offense. Tufele had a solid 2018 season with 23 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown. The redshirt sophomore will look to build from last season. Rector on the other hand will look to benefit from a new role on defense. Last season his sack numbers took a hit once linebacker Porter Gustin went down, going from 7.5 in 2017 to 4.5 in 2018.
Gaoteote, Vaughns, and Hufanga could potentially have breakout seasons. Vaughns will most likely be returning punts again on special teams, however on offense he could also benefit from Graham Harrell’s air raid offense which caters to getting the ball to playmakers in space.
Gaoteote filled in for an injured Cam Smith and had an outstanding debut against Washington State. The sophomore linebacker now could have a starting role to fully showcase his talent on defense. Hufanga seeped into the starting role after Isaiah Pola-Mao went down due to injury. Unfortunately, Hufanga suffered a broken collarbone during the Trojans victory over Oregon State. The health will be a question after the sophomore safety re-injured his collarbone during spring camp.
The media selected USC to finish second behind Utah in the Pac-12 South. The Trojans received two votes to win the Pac-12 conference. The Utes are also the favorite to win the Pac-12 over Oregon. USC will host both Utah and Oregon this season.