The USC Trojans Spring Game is here, and the final position breakdown for the 2021 recruitment class is here.
The defensive backs’ position has the most depth of any other position on the team, and it’s probably one of the most important positions.
The cornerback position, led by junior Chris Steele, is six players deep on the Spring roster.
The safety position, led by redshirt senior Isaiah Pola-Mao, is 11 players deep.
USC cornerbacks coach Donte Williams spoke to the media Thursday about the position and where they are in Spring practices.
“I’m pleased where our group is headed as a whole,” he said. “I’m looking forward to some of the guys coming this summer just to add more depth to what we have, and I’m fortunate that a lot of these guys that were out for different reasons are starting to come back.”
Steele also spoke to the media Thursday about his goals for the season.
“I actually have a few goals set for this season: I want to be a first-team unanimous All-American — so I want every panel across the board, across the country to recognize me as one of the top corners in the country this year, and it’s also my goal to leave after this season as a high draft prospect,” he said. “I’ve been working really hard this offseason, working on my mental [game] more than anything in order to accomplish that goal. … The main thing I’ve been working on is being lighter on my feet and my hands. I feel like I’ve always had pretty good feet, but I’ve been a little overly physical with my hands at times. That’s been my main focus along with just making plays on the ball.”
There are two cornerbacks and five safety recruits coming to USC, with four safety recruits on the Spring roster.
The cornerback position has Prophet Brown and Ceyair Wright coming in during the summer, while the safety position has Xamarion Gordon, Xavion Alford, Calen Bullock, Anthony Beavers Jr. on the Spring roster with Jaylin Smith joining in the summer.
Let’s break down the players.
Prophet Brown is a four-star recruit from Elk Grove, California ranked just outside the top-10 in the cornerback position and in the top-15 in the state for the 2021 class.
He played running back, wide receiver, and cornerback in high school, and he is making the permanent transition to cornerback at USC.
247Sports’ Brandon Huffman evaluated him last year and compared him to Raheem Mostert, saying he is “explosive on film, hits top gear quickly, and gets to the second level with burst.” This is obviously in regards to him playing running back.
He may need some guidance at getting used to the position, but looking at his film shows he has some potential.
It’s important to note that he ran a personal record sub-11 100-meter as a sophomore, according to Huffman.
Ceyair Wright is a four-star recruit out of Loyola in LA and is ranked just outside the top-5 in the position and inside the top-10 in California for the class.
247Sports’ Greg Biggins evaluated him last year and compared him to Xavier Rhodes, saying he has a “long, athletic frame with very good top-end speed.” He also said he has “long arms, good ball awareness, and build for press coverage.”
Wright is also fast — he ran on the state-winning 4-by-400-meter relay team as a junior and ran a 100-meter dash in 10.84, according to Biggins.
Xamarion Gordon is a four-star recruit out of Warren in Downey ranked just outside the top-20 among safeties and just outside the top-25 in California for the class.
Despite opting out of playing his senior season, he still made the 2020 PrepStar All-American team.
247Sports’ Greg Biggins evaluated him last year and compared him to Deone Bucannon. He said Gordon is “versatile and rangy with the ability to play multiple positions in college” and that he “has the frame to easily bulk up to an outside linebacker in college.”
Despite Warren not having a great record during his junior year, he helped them appear in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.
Xavion Alford is a redshirt freshman transfer from Texas who only played in four games as a reserve safety. He was a four-star recruit out of Pearland, Texas, and ranked in the top-10 among safeties in the 2020 class.
He will be competing against tough teammates for a chance on the field.
Calen Bullock is a four-star recruit out of John Muir in Pasadena ranked in the top-10 among the athlete position and inside the top-20 in the state for the 2021 class.
He made the 2020 PrepStar Dream Team and SoCal News Group Fab 15 second team as a senior.
247Sports’ Greg Biggins evaluated him last year and compared him to Marcus Williams, saying he’s a “talented two-way player who could end up at corner, safety, or receiver in college but projects best in the secondary.” He also said Bullock “has high-level body control and uses his length and jumping ability to make plays over opposing receivers and corners.”
Anthony Beavers is a four-star recruit out of Narbonne in Harbor City ranked in the top-10 among the athlete position and inside the top-20 in the state.
247Sports’ Greg Biggins evaluated him twice — in 2018 and last year. In last year’s, Biggins compared him to Keishawn Bierria and said Beavers is a “versatile defensive player who could end up at safety or linebacker” and is a “very smart, high IQ player who always seems to be in the right position.”
Jaylin Smith is a four-star recruit out of Bishop Alemany in Mission Hills ranked in the top-20 among the athlete position and in the top-30 in the state.
247Sports’ Greg Biggins evaluated him last year and compared him to Brock Vereen, saying Smith is an “undersized safety who has incredible instincts, toughness and is always around the ball.” Biggins also said Smith “isn’t afraid to come up in run support and is a very sure tackler.”
The rest of the cornerbacks on the Spring roster are redshirt freshman Joshua Jackson Jr. — who is transitioning from wide receiver — redshirt sophomore Adonis Otey, juniors Jayden Williams and Dorian Hewett, and redshirt junior Isaac Taylor-Stuart.
The safeties on the Spring roster are redshirt freshman Tommy Maurice, redshirt juniors Chase Williams and Jordan McMillan, junior Briton Allen, and redshirt senior Greg Johnson — who had starts at nickelback last year.
Redshirt sophomore safety Max Williams — who also had starts at nickelback last season — was looking to be a big piece for the defense, but he tore his ACL in practice on April 6.
Donte Williams spoke on how Joshua Jackson Jr. has been adapting to his new position.
“One thing I will say about him that I didn’t know — I didn’t know if he would come up and hit someone, I didn’t know if he would come up and strike somebody, and he’s definitely shown that he’ll do that over these courses of practice,” he said. “For Spring ball right now, the majority of our practices have been live, so he’s definitely shown the physicality I didn’t know he had.”
Williams also said competition for the other starting cornerback spot is still up for grabs.
The Trojans play their spring game on Saturday, April 17 at 1 p.m. on the American Airlines Field inside of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network and on AM 790 KABC.
The following game will be on Saturday, September 4 at home against San Jose State.
Photo Credit: Spatms | Wikimedia Commons