USC Football: 7 Players We Are Most Excited to Watch in 2013
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In a year that will require the USC Trojans to make vast improvements over last season's disappointing 7-6 record in order for head coach Lane Kiffin to secure a return engagement, the men of Troy will look for individual as well as collective excellence to attain their goals.
The good news for fans of the program is that USC has amassed a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, and it is these key players that will be counted on to return the Trojans to college football's elite.
This slideshow will look at some of these players of whom much will be asked in 2013.
Exactly how successful the team will be is dependent on the performance of these players. If they play to their abilities, fans will not only witness football excellence but also the excitement of their gridiron exploits.
Now let's find out exactly who these Trojans fans will be so excited to see in 2013.
Rankings are based on the capabilities of the individual players, positions they play and how they are featured in their collective units.
No. 7: Su'a Cravens
photo from 247sports.com
Anyone who saw USC's summer practices had to be impressed with the influx of true freshman talent the Trojans brought in this year. And of those players, safety Su'a Cravens was as impressive as any.
Cravens should be good to go this summer. While he may not wrest a starting position immediately, expect this star in the making to find himself with a lot of playing time in 2013.
No. 6: Justin Davis
photo from 247sports.com
When Lane Kiffin released his post-spring practice depth chart, many people were surprised to see true freshman running back Justin Davis listed as a co-starter with senior Silas Redd.
Davis, also a Scout 5-star prospect, is a 6'1", 205-pound multi-skilled back who can run over a defender as easily as he can run around him.
As an early enrollment player, Davis, who hails from Lincoln High School in Stockton, CA, has earned his coaches' confidence and will get a very long look this summer.
Expect Davis to have a prominent role in the running back rotation. As he gains experience, the sky is the limit for him.
No. 5: Silas Redd
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After running back Silas Redd transferred to USC from Penn State for the 2012 season, he was expected to be the final piece missing from the Trojans' inevitable march to the NCAA national championship.
Though things didn't quite work out as expected for either Redd or USC, the fault could not be placed on the senior-to-be.
Redd led the Trojans in rushing with 905 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012, averaging 5.4 yards-per-carry despite missing a couple of games with injuries.
Now completely healthy, I expect Redd to attack 2013 with a vengeance knowing that this is his last year to make an impression on NFL scouts.
No. 4: Leonard Williams
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Though the Trojans largely disappointed in 2012, the same could not be said for true freshman defensive lineman Leonard Williams.
Williams was dominant from the moment he stepped on the field for USC, and his versatility as well as his athletic prowess impressed all who delighted in watching him create havoc in the opposing team's backfield.
Whether he played on the interior or at the end, Williams simply manhandled whomever was unlucky enough to line up opposite of him. This is abundantly clear when one considers the 64 tackles that went along with 13.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks among his gaudy statistics.
Now with a year of experience under his belt, there is no limit to what Williams can do in 2013.
No. 3: Morgan Breslin
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Who knew that an unheralded defensive end JUCO transfer would have such an impact for USC in 2012?
Well, Lane Kiffin and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron did, and when Breslin stepped on the field for the Trojans, he became the most dominant player USC had on that side of the ball.
All Breslin did was lead the team in tackles for loss with 19.5 and sacks with 13 to go along with 62 tackles.
Blessed with great physical ability and a motor that simply never stops, Breslin will anchor a defensive line that will be one of the best in the country.
Can he top those gaudy numbers of 2012 this year? It is entirely possible, and that is why he is one of the players we are most excited to watch in 2013.
No. 2: Nelson Agholor
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For the second straight year, USC will have one of the most explosive receiver tandems in the nation. But instead of Robert Woods forming one half of that dynamic duo, it will be true sophomore Nelson Agholor doing the honors.
Agholor—another of those vaunted Florida recruits that USC seems to attract every year—was outstanding as a true freshman last year with 19 receptions and two touchdowns to go along with a team best 17.9 yards per catch.
And if the early returns are any indication, he will be even better this year.
Picking up right where he left off, Agholor has been unstoppable both in the spring and now in early summer passing drills, where his dynamic abilities are certain to keep opposing defensive coordinators up late at night with worry.
Agholor will be counted on to keep defenses from double- and triple-teaming his teammate, all-everything wide receiver Marqise Lee. If Agholor keeps up his steady rate of improvement, he will do just that.
And those opposing defensive coordinators?
They should be afraid...very afraid indeed.
No. 1: Marqise Lee
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It should come as absolutely no surprise that receiver Marqise Lee resides at the top spot of this "most exciting Trojans" slideshow.
Anyone who has watched the junior-to-be over the last two years knows that, simply put, he is not only the most exciting Trojan but the most exciting college football player in the nation. Period.
After a 2012 season that saw Lee set a USC record for most passes caught in a season (118) to go along with 14 touchdowns and a ridiculous 1,721 yards receiving, Lee was named All-American—and rightly so.
Now entering his third (and likely final) season with USC, Lee is poised to build on a historic career with the Trojans. The only question is how effective the new quarterback will be in getting the rock to him.
Without a doubt, Marqise Lee is the Trojan we are most excited to see in 2013.
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The 2013 USC Trojans will not lack exciting players, as evidenced by the preceding players in this slideshow. Yet these players are not the only ones who will have fans on the edge of their seats this year.
Not included but definitely worth keeping an eye on are players such as running back Tre Madden (who is coming back from a knee injury), tight ends Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer and defensive end Devon Kennard (who is also coming back from an injury but who is poised for a big year).
Although this team is surrounded by many question marks—not the least of which is breaking in a new quarterback—there is still the potential for the Trojans to be very, very good this season.
If that is the case, look for a variety of Trojans to excite us, many of whom may come as a surprise when all is said and done.
Which is good, because USC fans love surprises—at least the good ones.