USC Football 2011: 5 Most Important Players from Senior Class
Rick McMahan highlighted the top 5 incoming freshman that can/will have an impact on the 2011 season; but what about the senior class?
There are only 13 seniors on the roster, and with so few of them, their experience and leadership will be counted on in the upcoming season.
The senior class consists of the 2007 recruiting year and some from 2008, when USC ranked 2nd and 9th, respectively.
The following five seniors will have to, and are expected to, step up and lead in order for USC to get back to its dominating ways.
5. WR Brandon Carswell
Carswell (6'1 190lbs RS Senior) came very close to transferring last season due to the free agency rule set by the NCAA, but he was convinced to stay by head coach Lane Kiffin. As the team's only senior wide receiver on scholarship, his smarts and savvy will be counted on.
Carswell has 3 career starts with 22 receptions, 233 yards and one touchdown.
He is not the flashiest, but he does all of the little things right that do not go unnoticed by the coaching staff. His ability to stay and block in the passing game as well more importantly in the running game make him very valuable. He will get a chance to start this year, and he complements the offense very well.
With an inexperienced offensive line, any help the team can get from the receivers' blocking is a much needed boost. Aside from Carswell, there isn’t anyone yet that can bring what he does to the team.
4. RB Marc Tyler
Tyler (5'11 230lbs RS Senior) has had recent problems off the field, including weight issues last season and improper public conduct this spring. Last year, Tyler was able to go from bottom of the depth chart to the top, and he led the team in rushing (913 yards) and total touchdowns with 10.
To his name, Tyler has eight career starts with 1,183 rushing yards on 212 carries (5.6 average), 11 rushing touchdowns to go with 18 receptions, 137 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.
Tyler is the only big-bodied upperclassmen and, aside from true freshman Javorious “Buck” Allen (6'1 210lbs), is the only power running back on the team. Tyler will be counted on heavily in goal line formation and short yardage situations when needing to pound the ball up the middle.
3. TE Rhett Ellison
During the spring, coach Kiffin named off the players who looked like they were NFL-ready. That list included Ellison (6'5 250lbs RS Senior). One of the hardest working and smartest players, Ellison has gone from special teamer backup as an underclassman to starter as an upperclassman.
Ellison has started 19 career games and has 31 catches for 338 yards and four touchdowns.
He is a great blocker and a very diverse player, even able to play fullback. And with a true freshman penciled in as the starting fullback (Soma Vainuku), if something were to happen, Ellison can and will step in. His presence on and off the field is of a great leader, and he's a team player willing to put it all out there for the good of the team.
2. DT Christian Tupou
After starting most of his sophomore and junior seasons, Tupou (6'2 300lbs RS Senior) looked poised to be paired with fellow star Jurrell Casey for his senior season and cause havoc in the middle of the defensive line.
This did not come to be as Tupou tore ligaments in his left knee during the 2010 spring game, forcing him to redshirt. However, Tupou did not miss a single practice or game, cheering on his teammates while he worked hard to recover. This earned him USC’s Courage Award and USC’s Co-Lifter of the Year Award.
To his name, he has 21 career starts with 37 tackles, seven for a loss and 1.5 sacks, as well as a 2009 All-Pac-10 honorable mention, USC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Year Award and the Bob Chandler Award, given to an underclassman based on his athletic ability, academic scholarship as well as character on and off the field.
With the departure of Casey to the NFL draft, the uncertainty of fellow senior DL Armond Armstead's health and only one other upperclassman defensive tackle in Da’John Harris, the importance of Tupou is very high. His experience and talent will be heavily relied on.
1. MLB Chris Galippo
Though he was a highly recruited player, Galippo (6'2 250lbs RS Senior) has not been able to shed the injury bug, with back injuries bothering him since his freshman year. He redshirted his freshman season due to a herniated disc in his back and missed the 2011 spring game while recovering from another back problem.
Galippo has started 20 games and compiled 119 tackles, 12 for a loss, 2.5 sacks and five interceptions. He was named 2010 All-Pac-10 honorable mention and won USC’s Special Teams Player of the Year Award. In 2009 he was a Butkus Award semifinalist and a 2009 All-Pac-10 honorable mention.
With the coaching staffs decision to move junior hybrid Devon Kennard back to defensive end from middle linebacker, Galippo will be the starter. He is not the fastest, but his smarts and uncanny ability to be around the ball make him an important piece in the Monte Kiffin defense. If he is to get injured again a true freshman Lamar Dawson (highlighted in Rick’s article) will be next in line most likely.
USC is very bottom-heavy with the majority of the roster being underclassmen who will play a big role now and in the future.
But a team always has to rely on its seniors for experience and leadership. Though with only 13 seniors what they bring will be important.
The senior list also includes, LB Shane Horton, S Marshall Jones, CB T.J. Bryant, LB Ross Cumming, OL Martin Coleman, DL Armond Armstead and DT Da’John Harris.
The five mentioned though will be the most important in helping USC have a successful season.