USC Trojans: DeVante Wilson

LOS ANGELES -- The USC Trojans opened up the 2013 spring ball practice session with a spirited workout, which is typical for the first day of spring.

“I thought things looked good today,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “That is usually the case in spring, guys are fired up to get out here and start going to work. I also liked what I saw from our coaches, especially since some of them have only been with us for a short time. They were really ready to go.”

One of the new items to watch for the Trojans this spring is the 5-2 defense which is run by new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. Kiffin said that getting the new defense set is the top priority of spring and the highlight play of the day was an example of how the defense can shine. Jabari Ruffin -- who was lined up at defensive end -- had an interception of a Cody Kessler pass after dropping back into coverage and leaping in the air to make the play.

Kessler is part of what is expected to be an intense quarterback competition along with Max Wittek and Max Browne. Kiffin said Kessler was on schedule to be named MVP of the day until the interception and he also liked what he saw from his true freshman.

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LOS ANGELES -- It was another practice session on Dedeaux Field today as the Trojans hit the part of fall camp that Lane Kiffin called "the grind".

"It's this way for every team around the country," Kiffin said. "Guys are banged up. There is a mental and physical toll. Mental from learning the playbook, physical from coming out here and playing football. We don't get to work with them during the summer so no matter how much they do, it isn't playing football. You just can't simulate the physical part in the summer and it's different when the pads come on."

Kiffin confirmed that freshman defensive end DeVante Wilson tore his left ACL in practice yesterday, will need surgery and is out for the season.

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Flournoy continues to shine

August, 14, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- The Trojans practiced on Dedeaux Field today, primarily on the outfield grass, as Lane Kiffin said the team had torn up the grass on Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field so far in camp.

Kiffin said two things really jumped out at him today; the number of explosive plays given up by the defense over the top and the number of fumbles from the offense.

“We had really been doing well in terms of not giving up big plays,” Kiffin said. “It was really the best we had been looking in that area since we got here but today the offense did a good job in that area. On the other side, we had been protecting the ball fairly well but the defense was able to get three fumbles today -- they did a good job of stripping the ball.”

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USC week one newcomer impact 

August, 12, 2012
As the Trojans wrap up the opening week of fall camp practices we take a look at the newcomers to the USC roster:

FB Jahleel Pinner: Good-sized guy. Pinner alternated between tailback and fullback in high school, so his size fluctuated, but he has added some good bulk now that he is set at fullback. Nice skills with the ball in his hands.

TB Silas Redd: It hasn’t taken Redd long to show that he will have an impact this year. He runs hard, has shown a good work ethic and he took his first carry in the Coliseum scrimmage for a 43-yard gain.

WeAreSC Recruiting Mailbag 

June, 22, 2012
Torrodney PrevotTom Hauck for ESPN.comUSC seems to fit Torrodney Prevot's criteria in picking a school, but the Trojans have an uphill battle to get a commitment from the Texas defensive end.
WeAreSC publisher Garry Paskwietz answers reader questions in his mailbag every Friday. Have a USC recruiting question of your own? Submit it here.

jamison mitchell (Dayton, Ohio): Just wanted to know if Lane Kiffin and staff have an better chance of landing some defensive linemen? I mean USC is in serious need of depth there if they wanna stay fresh with teams like Oregon and Bama, especially with the playoffs coming in 2014. #FightOn2012

Defensive line and defensive back will be two of the priorities for the remaining spots in the class and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Trojans add two more bodies on the line. It’s important to recognize the talent of the two line commits in Kenny Bigelow and Kylie Fitts, but the coaches definitely don’t want to stop there. Eddie Vanderdoes is a big in-state name, but the Oregon Ducks appear to be in the driver's seat. Don’t be surprised if Ed Orgeron pulls in a big man from the Southeast as he has made several offers to defensive linemen from that region.

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Saturday practice report

March, 10, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- Just like Pete Carroll couldn’t control his fondness for the defense, Lane Kiffin hasn’t been shy about siding with the offense during his coaching tenure. But through three spring practices, it’s the other side of the ball that has caught Kiffin’s eye.

“Our defense is going to be better,” Kiffin said of what he will take away from the first week of spring ball. “Just watching them, they have a good look about themselves. They’re practicing as hard as they’ve practiced since we’ve been here. They’re holding each other accountable. I’m excited about their development.”

Kiffin heaped praise upon defensive end Wes Horton and cornerback Nickell Robey following Saturday’s practice. Both were responsible for turnovers, as Horton batted a pass in the air and came down with an interception, while Robey chased a ball carrier deep into the secondary and forced a fumble.

“I think Wes has pretty much dominated,” Kiffin said. “He looks faster and he’s doing a great job with his hands.”

Kiffin said the coaches have moved Horton to the right side of the line--a position vacated by Nick Perry -- in an attempt to produce more “explosive plays” from the quarterback’s blind side. Kiffin’s praise for Robey is nothing unusual, as he became an impact player during his first fall camp. Robey earned the MVP nod from Kiffin after day three.

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Tidbits from Tuesday practice 

March, 6, 2012
* Lane Kiffin called wide receiver George Farmer the MVP of day 1 of spring ball. It certainly came as no surprise to those watching. Early on in the day, I wrote next to Farmer's name in my notes: "Locked in." Kiffin said Farmer was playing with confidence and it showed. He made several nice catches, including one on a deep ball down the sideline where he went high over Isiah Wiley and came down with the ball while falling to the ground.

* Injury report: Kevin Greene (ankle), Josh Shaw (back), Nathan Guertler (hamstring), Jesse Scroggins (hip), Robert Woods (ankle), Torin Harris, Christian Heyward, Kyle Negrete, Christian Thomas, Chad Wheeler and DeVante Wilson. Greene and Woods took part in some of Tuesday's practice. Kiffin said Harris, Heyward, Negrete, Thomas, Wheeler and Wilson would all likely be out for all of spring. During practice, tight ends Xavier Grimble and Junior Pomee were injured and did not return to action.

* Not really any surprises with the starting lineups. Defensively, it was Wes Horton, George Uko, J.R. Tavai and Devon Kennard up front, Dion Bailey, Lamar Dawson and Hayes Pullard at linebacker, and Nickell Robey, T.J. McDonald, Jawanza Starling and Wiley in the secondary. Offensively, the line read Kevin Graf, Marcus Martin, Khaled Holmes, John Martinez and Aundrey Walker from left to right. Cyrus Hobbi took a few reps at left guard with the first team, and moved there for good when Martin left early for class. Matt Barkley started at quarterback.

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Spring ball scholarship math 

March, 5, 2012
Lane Kiffin has said all along that he has a plan to navigate the rough waters of NCAA sanctions, including roster limitations. Evidence continues to mount.

When quarterback Matt Barkley and safety T.J. McDonald announced they would be returning for their senior seasons, and USC coaches seemed adamant about taking a full allotment of 15 players in the most recent recruiting class, panic spread as it appeared the Trojans would be well above the NCAA-mandated limit of 75 scholarship players for each of the next three seasons. There were questions as to how the Trojans would be able to trim the roster to fit within that number. But as was the case on the field for the Trojans last year, things have had a way of working out with Kiffin at the helm.

The spring ball roster revealed that fullback Simi Vehikite is no longer part of the team and that, in addition to the losses of Brice Butler, Dillon Baxter, Kyle Prater, Armond Armstead and Patrick Hall, leaves the Trojans with just 64 scholarship players. The addition of 12 freshmen this fall would put USC at 76 total, meaning there must be one additional defection between now and the start of fall camp for the Trojans to head into the reductions at the magic number of 75.

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Updates from USC's Tuesday workout 

February, 14, 2012
The Trojans held the first winter sesson conditioning run with the coaches in attendance on Tuesday afternoon and then the team held a brief throwing session afterwards. Here are some tidbits from the day:

* Hayes Pullard and George Farmer had a big debate going as they walked off the field about who would win; Pullard's Los Angeles Crenshaw team which also featured Marcus Martin and De'Anthony Thomas , or Farmer's Gardena (Calif.) Serra team which included Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. To be honest, it’s a pretty good debate, as those were two great teams.

* As Ed Orgeron left the field he said “It’s great to be back out here on the grass”.

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