USC Trojans football is getting closer and closer to the start of the season — and even closer to spring football in April.
The team’s practices have been open to the public all month long, and the players are looking ready as ever for the season.
The new recruits brought in by Donte Williams and company at tight end and offensive line will have to work hard to get on the field this season.
At tight end, the Trojans have two players coming in as freshmen — Michael Trigg and Lake McRee.
On the offensive line, three players will fight for some time on the field — Mason Murphy, Ty Buchanan, and Maximus Gibbs.
Let’s break down the players.
Michael Trigg is a 6-foot-3-inch four-star tight end from Tampa Bay, Florida ranked fourth in his position for the 2021 class.
247Sports’ Barton Simmons evaluated Trigg over a year ago and compared him to newly-signed Seattle Seahawk Gerald Everett, saying he’s a great pass catcher with good body control and can be dangerous after the catch. Simmons also said he’s a “hybrid type that may not fit every offense,” but the way that quarterback Kedon Slovis throws the ball, Trigg should be a good target.
Trigg is a two-sport athlete that received almost 50 offers in football and a handful more for basketball.
Lake McRee is a 6-foot-4-inch three-star tight end from Austin, Texas who is ranked just outside the top-20 in the recruiting class, and he is a member of the spring football roster.
As a sophomore in 2018, he had a great year catching 17 passes for almost 300 yards and two touchdowns, plus he helped his team to a 13-2 record as well as a Texas 6A Division 1 state semifinals appearance. He, unfortunately, missed his junior year after an ACL tear, but he returned to the field in 2020 and caught 19 passes for over 200 years and a touchdown.
The Trojans have seven tight ends on the roster — which does not include Trigg — and the jobs are pretty secure at the moment. Redshirt senior Erik Krommenhoek is the likely starter for 2021 after appearing in all 6 games last season. Redshirt seniors Josh Falo and Kohl Hollinquest, as well as redshirt sophomores Jude Wolfe, Ethan Rae, and Sean Mahoney, are on the spring roster as well competing for time on the field.
Offensive line competition at any school is intense, so it’s probably not going to be different at USC.
Mason Murphy is a three-star tackle from San Juan Capistrano who is ranked inside the top-30 in the position for the recruiting class. 247Sports lists him at 6-foot-5 weighing in at about 290 pounds.
He is a strong lineman that excelled in the running game during his junior season.
He received just nine offers but they were all from Division 1 schools — mostly in the Pac-12.
Ty Buchanan is a three-star versatile guard and tackle from Corpus Christi, Texas who is ranked in the top-40 in the position. 247Sports lists him at 6-foot-5 weighing in at about 280 pounds.
Buchanan has a large frame and was able to bully a lot of his opponents in the running game during his junior season.
The local kid, Maximus Gibbs, is a three-star guard from St. John Bosco in Bellflower who is ranked in the top-50 in the position. He is the biggest of the three with 247Sports listing him at 6-foot-6 and weighing in at about 330 pounds.
The offensive line is just looking for one spot to fill — the left tackle spot vacant with Alijah Vera-Tucker going to the NFL. The likely starters are redshirt senior Andrew Vorhees at left guard, redshirt senior Brett Neilon at center, redshirt senior Liam Jimmons at right guard, and redshirt senior Jalen McKenzie at right tackle — though that can change.
Two other linemen that have starting experience are redshirt junior Justin Dedich — who has played both center and guard — and redshirt freshman Courtland Ford — who has played left guard.
The spring roster has 20 offensive linemen — none of them true freshmen.
It’s definitely an uphill battle for the three recruits coming in — especially since they likely won’t be on campus until the summer.
Having a solid tight end for passing plays or for blocking on running plays is a big advantage and can be key for the Trojans going into a loaded schedule this season. Having a big offensive line to protect Slovis and provide gaps for the running backs is probably even more critical.
These recruits might not get their name called this season, but they seem to have the potential to be starters in the future.
The Trojans will play their spring game on Saturday, April 17 at 1 p.m. in the LA Memorial Coliseum before going back into preparation for their first regular-season game on September 4, hosting San Jose State.