USC Football: What Does Loss of Heyward, Thomas and Wilson Mean for Program?

Rick McMahanSenior Writer IMarch 2, 2013

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USC released it's spring practice roster yesterday and defensive tackle Christian Heyward, defensive end DeVante Wilson and tight end Christian Thomas are missing from the list.

Further elaboration on the issue comes from the Orange County Register's Rich Hammond, who say's that the trio are gone from the program for "undisclosed reasons."

That information is also offered in a tweet from the L.A. Times' Gary Klein and a post from L.A. Daily News' Scott Wolf.

According to an article by Chris Huston of CBC, USC has confirmed this although a Twitter search for Christian Thomas still shows a USC logo prominently featured on his Twitter page.

So what does this mean for Lane Kiffin in what certainly is a "make or break" year for his coaching tenure with the cardinal and gold?

Well, for a program already shackled with scholarship limitations due to NCAA sanctions, it means an already shaky depth chart will take a big time hit.

Individually as players though, USC won't be missing a lot of production.

Of the three, probably Christian Heyward will be missed the most as the defensive interior line has the least amount of depth.

Heyward, who would have been a redshirt sophomore, had three tackles and a fumble recovery in 2012, but was looked upon has having very good potential going forward.

With only five defensive tackles still on the roster, the loss of Heyward will hurt both depth-wise and on the practice field.

As for Christian Thomas, his loss won't be felt for what he has accomplished on the field because due to injuries, that hasn't been much.

In 2010 and 2011 as a defensive end, Thomas accumulated nine total tackles but was switched to tight end for 2013 and was expected to provide depth at the position after USC lost Junior Pomee due to legal problems.

However, Thomas is a very good athlete and speculation on just how good he could be if he stayed healthy always was part of the conversation when people assessed his abilities.

Now we will never know.

The last on the list is defensive end DeVante Wilson who sat out last year due a knee injury and will never play a meaningful down for the Trojans.

In the final analysis, the loss of these three scholarship players will hurt the Trojans in how Lane Kiffin and his staff approaches the way they prepare for the 2013 season.

Practices—already under tremendous scrutiny due to the scholarship reductions—will have to be monitored even more closely now and the defensive interior linemen will not be able go all out with reckless abandon.

Overall, less scholarship players dilutes the product both depth-wise and on the practice field.

It will hurt in ways that the casual fan may not be privy to but will keep the coaching staff up late at night worrying about.

In a year where Lane Kiffin already has a ton on his plate, the loss of these players means he will have to shove a bit aside to make room for more.

And in a year where Kiffin has to win in order to keep his job, the task got even tougher.