USC Football Seantrel Henderson, Malik Jackson to Transfer: Who's Next?
USC reserve defensive end Malik Jackson has confirmed that he intends to transfer to Tennessee, becoming the second Trojan upperclassman to leave the program in the wake of NCAA sanctions imposed on the football team last month.
Due to the severity of the sanctions, which ban USC from competing in postseason play for the next two seasons, NCAA-instituted bylaws allow juniors and seniors to transfer to another Division I-A school outside of the Pac-10 without having to sit out a season.
Jordan Campbell, a junior linebacker, was the first player to transfer when he opted to leave USC for Louisville last month.
Jackson was a regular contributor for the Trojans, appearing in all 13 games in 2009 and recording 3.5 sacks.
According to Jackson, the sanctions did not play a role in his decision to leave. Rather, it was that Tennessee had contacted him last month, saying that they could really use his help.
That was enough for Jackson to jump ship, saying, "I just felt like I needed to be someplace else."
So is this the end of transfers for the Trojans, or are we seeing just the tip of the iceberg?
Here are some of the players most likely to follow Campbell and Jackson in the search for a better playing situation.
Mitch Mustain, QB
No player has drawn more speculation about potentially transferring than Mitch Mustain, the quarterback whose run in college football has taken him from being one of the highest-rated players coming out of high school to the starting quarterback at Arkansas and now to the bench at USC.
With Mustain, it's not really a matter of will he transfer, but when he will transfer.
Matt Barkley is the clear-cut starter at quarterback for the Trojans, and the only way Mustain will find his way onto the field outside of mop-up duty is if Barkley gets injured.
Simply put, Mustain has nothing to lose when you consider the starting gigs he could compete for elsewhere.
Travon Patterson, WR
Patterson is a player that has struggled with injuries throughout his career and could be a minor injury away from falling down the depth chart with freshmen Kyle Prater, Robert Woods, and Markeith Ambles on their way in.
Because of that trio of five-star recruits, the receiver position might be one of the most vulnerable to transfers.
It's no secret that USC's passing game struggled to meet the school's normal standards, and that could mean a changing of the guard, especially with Lane Kiffen at the helm.
Prater, Woods, and Ambles are his guys.
Patterson, Brice Butler, and Ronald Johnson aren't.
Brice Butler, WR
Brice Butler is only a sophomore, so if he was to transfer it would mean sitting out a year, but he's included on the list because fellow B/R recruiting analyst Bryan Kelly has the inside track on Butler, and there's a good chance he could be one of the next players to jump ship.
He's slotted in as a potential starter next season, but as I said previously, the whole receiving corps is up in the air, and not too much faith can be put into depth chart projections right now.
Since he'd have to sit out a season anyway, Butler could consider a move to another Pac-10 team.
He was recruited by almost the entire conference, so the move could be a swift one for Butler.
C.J. Gable, RB
C.J. Gable is expected to be the primary backup to Allen Bradford at tailback, but with Dillon Baxter's arrival and Gable's disappointing numbers from 2009, it could only be a matter of time before he finds himself third on the depth chart.
Kiffin doesn't use the running back by committee approach the way former head coach Pete Carroll did, which could further limit the potential for playing time for reserve backs such as Gable.
With Bradford getting the lion's share and Baxter on his heels, Gable is a prime candidate to transfer.
LSU was high on him out of high school and is rumored to remain interested.
Ronald Johnson, WR
Johnson has been a consistent and reliable target for the Trojans for the last three years, but a collarbone injury cost him five games last season.
As a result, his 34 receptions for 378 yards stood as a very disappointing total.
Every upperclassman receiver will be pushed hard for playing time as the new batch of hungry, talented players arrive on campus. Kyle Prater and Robert Woods are already turning heads, and it's only a matter of time before they take the starting slots.
For a senior like Johnson, it might just be better to move along now rather than get bumped down the depth chart a few months from now.
Marc Tyler, RB
Unlike C.J. Gable, Marc Tyler is buried deep on the depth chart and has little to no shot of getting on the field outside of special teams work.
In case you've forgotten, though, Tyler was one of the highest-rated running backs from the 2007 recruiting class and was heavily recruited by Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon, South Carolina, and UCLA.
That interest might still be there even though Tyler hasn't lived up to the hype to this point.
If any of those schools offers Tyler a legitimate chance to compete for playing time, he'd likely be on the first plane out of town.
David Ausberry, WR
David Ausberry has been in and out of the starting lineup for the Trojans since his freshman season, but lack of consistency and injures have derailed all of his attempts to become a mainstay of the starting lineup.
The latest reports indicate that he might have to make a switch to the tight end position to get onto the field, but that just doesn't seem like a good fit.
Ausberry falls into the category of having nothing to lose by transferring. He's a physical player who would find a better role on a ton of different programs.
At USC, he'll finish out his college career in obscurity.
Blake Ayles, TE
Blake Ayles is another of USC's former five-star recruits that hasn't panned out to this point. He was one of the top prospects of the 2008 recruiting class but has managed just 13 receptions for 128 yards in his first two seasons with the Trojans.
He's behind Jordan Cameron on the depth chart and could be pushed for playing time by Rhett Ellison and potentially David Ausberry. That situation doesn't bode well for snaps next season, and with no guarantee he'd be the starter in 2011, Ayles is a legitimate danger to transfer.
Miami, Notre Dame, and Ohio State all recruited him, and those options might still be available.
Drew McAllister, S
There might not be anyone on this list who's buried deeper on the depth chart than Drew McAllister, the junior safety that would need a miracle to get onto the field.
USC is very, very deep at both safety positions, and with Bryan Moore and Patrick Hall expected to be the primary backups to Torrin Harris, it's difficult to figure out how McAllister fits in, if he even does at all.
He didn't receive much interest from schools outside of the Pac-10 though, and that could make it difficult for McAllister to find a new location and greener grass.
In his case, it might be better to just stay put and enjoy the quality of his education at least.
Seantrel Henderson, OT
Did you really think we'd do a list of USC transfers and leave Seantrel Henderson off the list?
Come on, you know better than that.
USC's top recruit from their 2010 class, and one of the top overall prospects in the country, has been at the center of constant speculation ever since the NCAA announced its sanctions.
The latest news is that Miami is the favorite to land him, and it's becoming more and more clear that the five-star offensive tackle from Minnesota will never don a Trojans jersey.
Joe Schad of ESPN's tweeted on Tuesday that USC will release Henderson from his letter of intent , so the end of this saga might be nearing sooner than we expected.