USC Football: Incoming Freshmen Most Likely to Start This Season

Kyle Kensing@kensing45Contributor IJune 26, 2014

Feb 5, 2014; Gardena, CA, USA; Junipero Serra high school cornerback Adoree Jackson signs with the University of Southern California during national signing day at Junipero Serra High School. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Take a roster thinned by NCAA-mandated scholarship reductions and early departures to the NFL, add the Pac-12's top-ranked recruiting class, and the result is an opportunity for newcomers to make an immediate impact. 

Such is the equation for USC, which has a talented crop of reinforcements coming at the most opportune time. 


OL Toa Lobendahn 

Early enrollment gave 4-star offensive lineman Toa Lobendahn a chance to dive right in, and the La Habra, California, product made the most of it. 

"There’s a big learning curve that I had to go over," Lobendahn told Michael Lev of the Orange County Register. "Without it, I'd be really behind in the fall."

Lobendahn worked his way into the offensive line's first string by the end of spring practices. 

Head coach Steve Sarkisian was forced to do some reshuffling along the line in part because Aundrey Walker was recuperating from the ankle injury he suffered last November against UCLA. 

When the Trojans are at full strength, Lobendahn faces competition to remain in that starting spot. But his strong spring puts him in position to crack the front five's first string. 


OL Damien Mama

Among Lobendahn's competition come preseason camp is fellow freshman Damien Mama. The ballyhooed 4-star guard from Southern California prep powerhouse St. John Bosco will spend one season with the Trojans before embarking on a two-year Mormon mission, but that one season could be a big one for the biggest member of the offensive line. 

Mama checks in at 6'4", 370 pounds, per 247Sports, and he effectively uses his size to pave holes in the run game. Given the talent USC has at running back, Mama's services could prove quite useful. 


ATH Adoree' Jackson 

One of two 5-star commits in USC's 2014 class, Adoree' Jackson should have ample opportunity to prove his lofty billing. 

There's a lighthearted internal struggle playing out at Heritage Hall about which coach gets to work with the supremely talented Jackson.

"As soon as he walks in the door I'm going to, like, grab him and pull him in my office," defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox told Rahshaun Haylock of

Wilcox wanting Jackson for his secondary is understandable. As a defensive back for Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, California, Jackson intercepted 17 passes in three seasons, per

But as a wide receiver, Jackson hauled in seven touchdowns in 2013 and five in 2012. USC has had good fortune with past Serra High wideouts—the names Robert Woods and Marqise Lee might ring a bell.

Add his explosive speed as a returner, and it's likely Jackson will make a splash in all three phases.


ATH John "JuJu" Smith

Like Jackson, John "JuJu" Smith is a 5-star recruit. Also like Jackson, Smith is a dynamic playmaker capable of having an impact on both sides of the ball.

Smith shined as a safety and wide receiver for Long Beach Poly in Southern California and could see action at both positions in his debut season at USC. 

With Su'a Cravens and Leon McQuay III holding down the safety spots, Smith's most likely to make the starting lineup on the offensive end. The Trojans need playmakers to complement Nelson Agholor in the receiving game, and the versatile Smith is a candidate. 


Recruiting rankings and information culled from composite scores.