USC Trojans: Brandon Carswell

USC spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
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2011 overall record: 10-2
2011 conference record: 7-2 (1st, South)
Returning starters: Offense: 9; defense: 8; kicker/punter: 2

Top returners
QB Matt Barkley, S T.J. McDonald, OL Khaled Holmes, WR Robert Woods, WR Marqise Lee, RB Curtis McNeal, DL Devon Kennard, DL Wes Horton, CB Nickell Robey, LB Dion Bailey, LB Hayes Pullard, K Andre Heidari

Key losses
OL Matt Kalil, DL Nick Perry, FB Rhett Ellison, DL DaJohn Harris, DL Christian Tupou, LB Chris Galippo, RB Marc Tyler, WR Brandon Carswell, LS Chris Pousson

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Curtis McNeal* (1,005 yards)
Passing: Matt Barkley* (3,528 yards)
Receiving: Robert Woods* (1,292 yards)
Tackles: Dion Bailey*, Hayes Pullard* (81)
Sacks: Nick Perry (9.5)
Interceptions: T.J. McDonald* (3)

Spring answers

1. Marqise Lee is ready for prime time: It’s no secret that Lee is a talented player who put together a terrific freshman season, but he took that performance to an even higher level this spring when he was the best player on the field for the Trojans. We’re seeing a rare athlete in Lee, one whose acrobatic style is being compared to Lynn Swann.

2. The USC defense is worthy of mention: There is so much attention paid to Matt Barkley and his offensive weapons -- and deservedly so -- but this spring was a reminder that the Trojans defense is going to be pretty good too. The back seven will be a strength, as the starters return intact plus there is a nice supply of talented depth.

3. The future of the USC quarterback spot is in good hands: Spring was an extended audition for Max Wittek and Cody Kessler, as Barkley was limited in his reps. Both players had their moments as they look to settle into the No. 2 role and the inside track to be Barkley’s heir apparent. The Trojans also got a verbal commitment from Max Browne (No. 2 rated pocket passer in ESPN 150), who will enroll next spring.

Fall questions

1. Interior of the D-line: One of the keys of spring was replacing two senior starters from the middle of the line. George Uko stepped in at defensive tackle and had flashes of real solid play. After Uko, however, things are not so clear. There is no established backup for him and no set starter at nose tackle, as J.R. Tavai and Antwaun Woods continue to battle for the job.

2. Lack of depth at tailback: The Trojans have a returning 1,000-yard rusher in Curtis McNeal but not a lot of experience behind him. D.J. Morgan had 42 carries in 2011, Buck Allen redshirted last season and Nelson Agholor has yet to join the team. That’s the extent of the playing time for the 2012 USC reserve tailbacks.

3. Protecting the blind side: There wasn’t a ton of worry last year about left tackle with Matt Kalil but replacing him has not been easy. Kevin Graf got the first look, but then the coaches moved Aundrey Walker into the spot. Lane Kiffin said Walker was not consistent but he showed enough with the potential of the size benefits he brings that he will stay as the starter heading into fall camp.

USC free agent signings

April, 29, 2012
4/29/12
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VThe 2012 NFL draft is complete and several undrafted USC players have signed free agent contracts:

RB Marc Tyler (Green Bay Packers)

WR Brandon Carswell (Oakland Raiders)

DT Christian Tupou (San Diego Chargers)

LS Chris Pousson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

DT DaJohn Harris (Tennessee Titans)

LB Chris Galippo (Indianapolis Colts)

Recap of Trojans in NFL draft

April, 28, 2012
4/28/12
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After seeing Matt Kalil and Nick Perry go off the board quickly in the first round of the NFL draft, USC fans waited until fullback Rhett Ellison was chosen by the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth round (No. 128 overall) to see another former Trojans player selected.

That was it for former USC players in this draft and, although several players have and will be signing free agent contracts, the total of three overall picks reflects the fewest number of USC players selected in a draft since 2002.

Whether that reality is a comment on recruiting, a coaching transition or a program under sanctions, the fact is that there were nine players who were eligible to be drafted this year that came to USC ranked as one of the top five players at their position. Only one, Kalil, was selected in the draft.

That mark should certainly change next year when Trojans are likely to dominate the draft boards, particularly with seniors such as Matt Barkley, T.J. McDonald and Khaled Holmes.

The good news is that USC continues to lead the nation when it comes to total number of draftees (476) and first round selections (77).

Kalil became the 22nd offensive lineman to be drafted in the first round from USC since 1968, an average of one every other year. He is the third member of his family to be selected in the draft -- father Frank by the Bills and brother Ryan by the Panthers -- while he is also the third USC offensive tackle to be a first-round choice of the Vikings (Ron Yary, 1968 and Steve Riley, 1974).

Ellison certainly has some NFL connections of his own as his father, Riki, was a fifth-round pick of the San Francisco 49’ers and won two Super Bowls during his playing career.

Kalil and Ellison were one of three sets of college teammates who were chosen by the Vikings in the draft (Harrison Smith and Robert Blanton from Notre Dame and Jarius Wright and Greg Childs from Arkansas).

Perry will have some USC familiarity when he heads to Green Bay as he will be lined up opposite Clay Matthews, who was a senior in 2008 when Perry redshirted for the Trojans.

Perry was known as a defensive end in high school and college, but the Packers are planning to use him as an outside linebacker to apply some much needed pass rush help for the defense.

There were also several early free agent signings for USC players on Saturday:

RB Marc Tyler -- Green Bay Packers

WR Brandon Carswell -- Oakland Raiders

LB Chris Galippo -- Indianapolis Colts

WeAreSC Roundtable 

April, 26, 2012
4/26/12
8:30
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Rhett EllisonAP Photo/Mark J. TerrillIt doesn't matter where an NFL team decides to put him -- the WeAreSC panel sees good things at the next level for fullback/tight end Rhett Ellison.

“This year’s draft class for USC has Matt Kalil and Nick Perry going early but a lot of uncertainty after that. Give your thoughts on three draft eligible players -- outside of Kalil and Perry -- who will have the best chance of sticking with a team, either through the draft or free agency.”

Garry Paskwietz

WeAreSC Roundtable 

March, 29, 2012
3/29/12
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Brian BauchamGarry Paskwietz/WeAreSC.comSenior cornerback Brian Baucham has turned heads this spring with big plays, going from a little-used afterthought to a potential player in USC's cornerback rotation.
“Give your top 5 surprises of spring ball”

Garry Paskwietz

1) Brian Baucham -- To say that any contribution from Baucham was unexpected would be an understatement. Baucham has been off the radar for years due to injuries and academics and there was no indication that he was ready to make a strong return, but that’s exactly what’s happened. He’s been consistently making plays ever since he came back during the first week of spring.

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USC seniors to watch in all-star games 

January, 20, 2012
1/20/12
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USC DefenseJayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireUSC defensive tackle DaJohn Harris has turned heads this week at East-West Shrine Bowl practices, moving himself up into second-round consideration in April's NFL draft.

Four USC seniors will wear the Cardinal and Gold on their helmets one last time on Saturday in their last attempt to showcase their skills on the field before April’s NFL draft.

East-West Shrine Game -- 1 p.m. Saturday, Orlando, Fla.

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Storylines from Wednesday practice 

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
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It looked a bit like an all-star game during Wednesday's practice, as different jersey colors littered the field. The offense wore its usual red and the defense was in white, but with scout team players wearing both black and powder blue, quarterbacks in yellow, and several seniors -- Brandon Carswell, Christian Tupou and Martin Coleman -- wearing their high school uniforms, the color palette was striking. Carswell said the idea was brought forward by Rhett Ellison, who got it from his father. The seniors all planned to wear their high school jerseys, but some were unable to have them taken out of storage. Ellison was one of those, but he and Tupou took athletic tape and decorated their USC helmets with the wing pattern worn by their high schools.

On the injury front, Devon Kennard and J.R. Tavai sat out Wednesday's practice. DaJohn Harris and Robert Woods were limited. Curtis McNeal came out of practice and Lane Kiffin said they would check his knee.

Kiffin was quick to dismiss any thought of a letdown in the season finale after a big win over Oregon. Kiffin said the team has approached every game in the same way this season, and he doesn't expect that to change this weekend.

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