USC Football: Players Who Will Rise Up Trojans' Depth Chart in Spring Practice
After the season the USC Trojans had last year, nearly every roster spot is available as they prepare to enter spring practice.
There will be a quarterback controversy, battles for positioning in the secondary and plenty of talented running backs looking for more touches. This doesn't even include a plethora of wide receivers who need to step up, a handful of 2013 recruits who enrolled early and a few key players who will be trying out a new position this year.
If you thought last season was interesting, spring practice should keep you entertained during this lengthy offseason.
Here are some of the USC Trojans who will make an impact during spring practice and turn the depth chart upside down.
Kenny Bigelow, DE
The strength of the USC defense is going to be upfront.
With Leonard Williams and George Uko anchoring the unit, it won't be surprising to see the Trojans once again finish towards the top of the Pac-12 in sacks this year.
With the addition of 2013 recruit Kenny Bigelow, new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast has even more to work with. This is a kid who has the size to step on the field immediately and make an impact.
At 6'3" and nearly 300 pounds, Bigelow carries his weight well and is surprisingly quick off the line. Due to his quick feet and pass-rushing skills, the five-star recruit will provide depth at the defensive end position in the new 3-4 defense.
Bigelow was arguably the best recruit for the Trojans in 2013 and he will soon prove why other teams across the country were drooling over his skill set.
Victor Blackwell, WR
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Oh where, oh where did Victor Blackwell go? Oh where, oh where could he be?
Once a top recruit of the 2011 class, he redshirted his freshman season. Last season, in his first true year of eligibility, he finished the year with only one reception, which happened to come in the first game of the season.
Well, I'm not ready to give up on him just yet.
He is easily one of the fastest players on the USC roster, and he has the ability to become a deep threat and help stretch the field. He adjusts to the ball well when it is in the air and is dangerous anytime he gets the ball in his hands.
USC needs receivers to step up to help take some of the pressure off Marqise Lee.
Blackwell should finally start to play the way USC fans had expected when he committed to the program a couple of years ago.
Jabari Ruffin, LB
Now that the redshirt has been removed from linebacker Jabari Ruffin, it is time for him to show why he was such a highly recruited player in the 2012 class.
Competing for playing time behind Devon Kennard for the outside linebacker position, he has a chance to really solidify himself as the backup heading into the fall.
Ruffin should fit perfectly in the 3-4 defense with his ability to rush the passer and deliver a punishing blow on the ball carrier. He covers a lot of ground with his athletic ability and also has the strength to shed blocks and get in on the action.
His overall combination of size, speed and ball skills makes Ruffin a recruit to keep an eye on this spring.
He's certainly not going to earn a starting position, but he should still see valuable playing time and will get a much-needed head start on 2013 recruit Quinton Powell, who will enroll in the fall.
Tre Madden, RB
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The running-back depth for USC is looking a lot better than it did a year ago.
Of course, the Trojans must avoid the injury bug that hit the backfield mighty hard last year. One of those injuries happened to Tre Madden, who missed the entire year with an injured knee after he was supposed to be such a valuable contributor to this USC offense.
Expect the redshirt sophomore to be healthy heading into the spring. He is a running back who can quickly make Trojans fans fall in love.
Recruited as an outside linebacker in college, Madden was switched to the offensive side of the ball due to his above-average speed and great size at 220 pounds. He can run between the tackles, kick it to the outside and can be effective in catching the ball out of the backfield as well.
You usually don't see a back this big who can run as fast as he can. Madden is the X-Factor in the USC backfield and has a chance to become something special—if he can avoid a setback from last year’s injury.
Su'a Cravens, S
Su'a Cravens has a lot of things going for him this spring.
One, he is arguably the best recruit of the Trojans' 2013 recruiting class and has already enrolled on campus.
Another thing that will put eyeballs on the five-star recruit is that Dion Bailey is going to be sidelined during the practices, as he is still recovering from shoulder surgery. Bailey is expected to switch to the safety position this year after playing linebacker in 2012.
Cravens is a physical player, who could immediately help a Trojans defense that struggled in stopping the run last year. He is also effective in blitz packages and can breakdown plays quickly with his high awareness and football IQ.
He is one of the more complete recruits of the 2013 class.
The USC secondary took a major hit with the losses of T.J. McDonald, Jawanza Starling and Nickell Robey, leaving only one starter from last year in the backfield.
Cravens will add depth to the unit and prove that he deserves playing time right away as one of the best players coming fresh out of high school.