The wide receiver corps at USC is made up of 5 juniors, 3 who have significant experience. Damian Williams has now one year under his belt in the USC system, after transferring from Arkansas where he played his rookie season. Split to the other side is Ronald Johnson who's 4.3 40 speed gives USC a serious deep threat.
Watch USC toggle between these two fantastic talents all season long. Having a deep threat is going to attract safety attention covering over the top, giving Williams more space for routes across the middle. And vice versa.
When Williams has the hot hand (which seems to be often), the safety is going to have to stay home, which will mean more single coverage on Johnson.
After Williams and Johnson, follow the speedy Travon Patterson who will be used on quick passes, end arounds, and sweeps all year long. If he gets into the open field, you can just wave goodbye.
Also competing for touches will be David Ausberry and Jordan Campbell, 6'4" 230 and 6'5" 220, respectively. They are monsters who can find the ball and come down with it, and both love to lower their shoulders and level linebackers and defensive backers alike.
Look for a steady stream of talent blowing in the saloon doors, but as in years past, Carroll will give a majority of the touches to his two starters, and they will not disappoint.
After his freshman season at Arkansas, in which Damian earned Freshman All-American third team and Freshman All-SEC honors, Damian left with Arkansas and Springdale HS teammate Mitch Mustain for the City of Angels and USC.
He sat the requisite year for a transfer, and made his presence known in his first game as a Trojan at Virginia on August 30th, with 7 catches for 91 yards.
Damian is a ball hog. In his first season at SC, he led the team with 58 catches and 869 yards. He runs fantastic routes, makes defenders miss, and breaks tackles when they don't.
His main intangible is his ability to see plays develop in front of him, and know where he needs to be in order to make a play. Whether that's stretching an out from a 5-yard gain to a 7-yarder, throwing blocks for sweeping tailbacks, or running perfectly timed and positioned routes—Damian's on the job.
There are very real chances for D.Williams to be an All-American come year's end.
Ronald Johnson is simply about as fast as they come. He is so explosive off the line, and his top speed is just another gear or two beyond most DBs.
Honestly, the biggest problem is making sure that you have a quarterback who can feed Johnson the ball deep. He's the type of receiver that you can throw deep to, and let him run under the ball.
RoJo got plenty of touches last year, but look this year for him to be one of the offense's main offensive weapons. This will be the year that opposing coaches learn that No. 8 is far more than just a speedy receiver.
He's a hard worker who has developed into a "must-cover" talent at all times.
A local boy, Travon was a standout receiver and track start at Long Beach Poly HS, known for fostering some of the speediest talent around (Desean Jackson, anyone?).
Travon has only caught 7 balls for the Trojans and still hasn't grabbed his first Touchdown, but something tells me that will happen early in 2009.
Watching him in the spring game, it's clear that Travon has the ability to line-up in nearly any formation. Patterson makes the quick passes to the sidelines, end arounds, and reverses so attractive, and I'm sure we'll see him trying to get to the corner often.
David Ausberry is a freak. He is big enough to be a small tight end at 6'4", 230 lbs., but has the speed and grace to play wide receiver. He's another one of the Trojans that everyone has been waiting to break out...it just hasn't happened yet.
Word around campus is that Ausberry had his best spring yet, and is poised to compete for plenty of playing time this fall. The guys ahead of David are all quality receivers, but he possesses such gifted size and strength that it will be hard to keep him out of games because of the incredible mismatches he creates.
He will pull linebackers and bigger safeties due to his size, but they better be quick because he runs efficient routes, jumps well, and is a beast to tackle.
Look for David catching balls from Aaron Corp right from the gate in Week 1.
Another wide receiver with tight end size, Jordan actually was recruited as someone to fill '07 TE standout Fred Davis' spot. Jordan is 6'5", 220 lbs and the leaping ability of a McDonald's High School All-America nominee, which Jordan also was coming out of Newbury Park High School. He also plays basketball on the USC Men's Basketball team.
The coaches say all you have to do is throw the ball up in the air near Jordan and he'll come down with it. He had limited action as a reserve last season, but earned his way into the 5th receiver slot on the depth chart. Stay tuned for more on this bright two-sport talent.
Oh, and an interesting trivia-ish sidenote: as the younger brother to ex-USC woman's basketball star Brynn Cameron, Jordan is the uncle of former Heisman Trophy winning QB Matt Leinart's baby.