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Thursday, July 3, 2014
Five things to watch at The Opening

By Garry Paskwietz

Five things for USC fans to watch for at The Opening:

Ricky Town
USC commit Ricky Town is looking to erase any doubts that he belongs among the elite QBs in his class.
1. Quarterbacks: There will be a lot of eyes on both Ricky Town and Sam Darnold at this event, but for very different reasons. Town is the USC verbal, the one who Steve Sarkisian focused on right away when he got the job, but Town’s star has fallen a little bit in the recruiting world this spring. That may not mean anything in the long run but perception is important at an event like this and you know that Town would love nothing more than to come out and put on a performance that removes any doubt that he belongs among the elite quarterbacks in the country. Darnold recently received a USC offer after a spring that saw him go from unranked player (missed most of junior year due to injury) to one of the hottest names on the camp circuit. There would be no better way to justify the recent hype than a strong showing in this setting.

2. Outside linebackers: The big names on the USC wish list will be there, from John Houston Jr. to Osa Masina and Porter Gustin. All three have offers, although it's unclear which position Gustin will eventually play at the college level. Houston and Masina both seem tailor-made for the outside linebacker spot with tall, lean frames and long arms. It will be a great chance to see them in action together and, to top it off, Ben Humphreys will also be in attendance and he’s attracted a lot of attention from SC coaches so far, but no offer yet.

3. Cornerbacks: Speaking of  "big" names on the SC list, Iman “Biggie” Marshall leads the way for the cornerback group along with DeChaun Holiday and Isaiah Langley (who is expected to announce his college choice at the event). All three have USC offers and are considered tall corners with rumblings that Marshall and Holiday could even end up as safeties in college. For now, each will be challenged by a receiver group that is always filled with talent at The Opening.

4. Wide receivers: As mentioned, the receiver position is loaded again this year and that includes the top West Coast names that the Trojans have made offers to, including Christian Kirk, Equanimeous St. Brown, Desean Holmes and Cordell Broadus. Speedy Ryan Newsome from Texas joins that offer group while Trent Irwin is a local product without an offer but he could shine in this setting. It remains to be seen how many wide receivers the Trojans take this year (there is already a commitment from junior college receiver De’Quan Hampton) so it will be interesting to see if any of the receivers separate themselves from the others.

5. Rasheem Green vs. Chuma Edoga: There will be plenty of one-on-one battles spread throughout the week but this one intrigues me as much as any of them. Green is the physical man-child in the middle of the D-line but there are lingering questions about his polish and refinement. Udoga is already a commit to the Trojans and he's known as a tenacious blocker at offensive guard who is looking to lock on and finish defenders. Seeing these two go against each other should be a fantastic measuring stick for both players, and something for USC fans to enjoy as well.