USC Trojans: Jordan Payton

Pac-12 lunch links: Players on mend

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
11:30
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There was madness in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic, universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.

Pac-12 spring preview: South Division

February, 22, 2013
2/22/13
8:03
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Here are some keys and storylines to watch this spring in the South Division. Yesterday Ted looked at the North Division.

ARIZONA WILDCATS

Start date: March 3

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. New battery: The Wildcats are looking to replace a top-notch quarterback-center combo in Matt Scott and Kyle Quinn. The rock-solid duo helped produce one of the top offenses in the league. Jesse Scroggins and B.J. Denker are among those in the mix to run the offense and several returning offensive linemen are versatile enough to move around. Chris Putton and redshirt freshman Beau Boyster could be in the mix at center.
  2. Many happy return(er)s: Arizona returns a big chunk of its offensive production -- including running back Ka'Deem Carey and receiver Austin Hill. Both should be on all sorts of preseason teams and awards watch lists. But behind the big names, there's also David Richards, Johnny Jackson, Tyler Slavin and Garic Wharton back in the mix.
  3. No learning curve: Last spring, the talk was about Rich Rodriguez calling out his team for its lack of physical conditioning. The fact that the majority of the team understands what is expected -- and they don't need to spend the whole spring learning new systems, should be a huge help. Consider that the Wildcats return their entire defense from a group that was, at times, shaky, but will certainly benefit from another full season of playing in the 3-3-5 scheme.
ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS

Start date: March 19

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. Plugging the middle: One of the few losses to ASU's roster is middle linebacker Brandon Magee -- a leader on and off the field and an all-around heck of a player. Carlos Mendoza looks to be a good fit -- though he's likely to miss spring while continuing to recover from a shoulder injury suffered against Illinois. Folks might remember his two interceptions before going down for the year.
  2. Catching on: Unlike last spring, the Sun Devils have their quarterback. And he's a good one. Now, they need to find folks he can throw to. JC transfers De'Marieya Nelson (H-back, 6-3, 230) and Jaelen Strong (WR, 6-4, 205) are both big bodies who could step in and contribute immediately.
  3. Wait and see: The kicker here is a lot of these players who are expected to compete won't arrive until the fall. So in the meantime, a lot of the younger players and redshirts will get a ton of reps in the system. And speaking of kicker, don't underestimate how much of an impact Josh Hubner made at punter. Iowan Matt Haack, who arrives in the fall, is a rugby-style kicker who can kick with either foot. That's just cool.
COLORADO BUFFALOES

Start date: March 7

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. Meet your QB: Whomever it will be. There are five on the roster and a sixth coming in. Safe to say, quarterback play was extremely inconsistent last season for the Buffs. With an entirely new coaching staff coming in and installing the pistol, this could be one of the more interesting and wide-open position battles in the league.
  2. Curious defense: One needs only to review Colorado's national rankings last year to realize they struggled. As one Buffs insider mentioned to me, they were ranked No. 1 in a lot of categories. Unfortunately, that "1" was followed by two more numbers. Only three defensive ends have playing experience. However a secondary that lacked experience in 2012 has a lot more looking into 2013.
  3. Receiver options: The Buffs welcome back Paul Richardson, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. Colorado's premier offensive playmaker will be a nice veteran presence to whomever wins the quarterback job. Grayshirt Jeff Thomas also is back. An improved passing attack should help give the quarterback some confidence and open up the running game.
UCLA BRUINS

Start date: April 2

Spring game: April 27

What to watch:
  1. Life after Franklin: The Bruins say goodbye to the best statistical back in school history -- leaving a huge void in the backfield. Johnathan Franklin was a great presence for young quarterback Brett Hundley, but now someone has to step up to fill that role, either solo or along with a committee. Look for Jordon James, Steven Manfro and Damien Thigpen to all get looks.
  2. New No. 1: The Y-receiver, aka hybrid tight end, was filled wonderfully by Joseph Fauria -- Hundley's favorite red zone target. Darius Bell and Ian Taubler both had looks last year, but Fauria too will be tough to replace. Shaq Evans, Devin Fuller, Jordan Payton and Devin Lucien round out a pretty good receiving corps.
  3. Secondary solutions: The Bruins must replace two corners and a safety -- Sheldon Price, Aaron Hester, Andrew Abbott -- and there isn't a ton of starting experience. Randall Goforth has five starts, but veterans such as Brandon Sermons and Anthony Jefferson have more special-teams experience than actual secondary play. Keep an eye on the secondary too when the Bruins start fall camp to see if any freshmen jump into the mix immediately.
USC TROJANS

Start date: TBD

Spring game: April 13
  1. New defensive scheme: The Trojans will move to a 5-2 defensive scheme under Clancy Pendergast, and the spring drills will be the first opportunity to see the defense in action. The Trojans will have an experienced front seven, but four new starters are expected in the secondary.
  2. Replacing Barkley: Max Wittek got the first extended audition in the battle to take over for Matt Barkley, but he didn’t do enough in two late-season starts to claim the job. Cody Kessler and freshman spring enrollee Max Browne also will be looking to take the reins at one of the glamour positions in college football.
  3. Lane Kiffin on the hot seat: The Trojans are coming off a disappointing season, and the fans are howling in protest, but so far his boss Pat Haden has maintained full support for his coach. Now is the time for Kiffin to show why that support is warranted. -- Garry Paskwietz, WeAreSC
UTAH UTES

Start date: March 19

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. Erickson impact: The biggest question was what sort of role Dennis Erickson would play in the offense once he arrived. We'll know sooner than later. He already has talked about putting an identity on the Utah offense. That starts in spring when routines are established and expectations are set. And with Erickson on board to give the offense a push, the expectations will be much higher.
  2. Wilson maturing: That leads us to the presumptive starting quarterback -- Travis Wilson -- who jumped in midseason after Jordan Wynn got hurt and Jon Hays struggled to produce. Wilson went from OK to pretty good in just a few weeks. A nice jump considering his experience level. With an entire offseason knowing he'll be the starter -- and with Erickson and Brian Johnson molding him -- it will be interesting to see what progress he makes this spring.
  3. D-line makeover: The Utes lose some talent on the defensive line -- specifically All-American defensive tackle Star Lotulelei. Look for DE/LB Trevor Reilly to spend more time with his hand down. Tenny Palepoi, LT Tuipulotu and JC transfer Sese Ianu could all see time in the mix at defensive tackle.
DANA POINT, Calif. -- Here are some notes from the Nike AirStrike Dana Hills passing tournament which was held on Saturday at Dana Hills High School:

• Oaks Christian -- The Trojans are looking for linebackers and one who could end up getting more of a look is Cameron Judge. He has offers from several Pac-12 schools and the Trojans were interested in the spring evaluation period. He saw time at both linebacker and wide receiver today. The big guns for the Lions are a pair of juniors in quarterback Brandon Dawkins and receiver Chris Davis. Dawkins has good size, he reminded me of former Long Beach Poly and Stanford quarterback Chris Lewis at first glance. Dawkins recently picked up a Notre Dame offer. Davis has good quickness and runs crisp routes. One person in the Oaks Christian program said Davis will be better than recent signees Jordan Payton (UCLA) and Blair Holliday (Duke).

• Mission Viejo -- Max Redfield is a stud. He looks the part and then he goes out there and backs it up with good play on both sides of the ball. It’s been well-documented that schools are showing interest in Redfield at both safety and receiver and it’s easy to see why, as he’s real fluid at both. Redfield had one catch in the end zone that was a jump ball which he went up effortlessly in the air to get. He said his preference is safety, but Redfield has no problem playing receiver if that’s the way things work out. Max was wearing an Oregon sweatshirt at one point. When asked about it, he simply said “It’s just a shirt.”

Trojans going hard after Rogers 

January, 15, 2012
1/15/12
6:00
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Recruiting at the wide receiver position has been interesting for the Trojans in the class of 2012. An early commitment from Jordan Payton (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) was taken back when Payton and USC decided to go in different directions. Jaydon Mickens (Los Angeles/Dorsey) also bounced in and out of the Trojans class. But that hasn't been the case with Darreus Rogers (Carson, Calif./Carson), who committed to the Trojans one year ago and has remained the top in-state target for Lane Kiffin and staff since then.

Rogers was one of several official visitors at USC this weekend, and while he will take official visits to Arizona State and Oregon the following two weeks, the Trojans staff may have done enough to sway an important person when it comes to his final decision.

"I had a very lovely time," said Rogers' mother, Charlotte Polk. "It was great -- very informative. That is a great school and it's close to home."

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It was a big day for the Pac-12, as programs throughout the conference received a good look at some future players during the West’s 24-12 victory over the East in the Army All-American Bowl.

For the USC Trojans, the big news came in the form of a verbal commitment from cornerback Kevon Seymour (Pasadena, Calif./Muir). The Trojans had been in a battle with Oregon, California, Washington and UCLA for the talented two-way athlete, but USC solidified its lead over the past few weeks and landed a player with the size and speed capable of making an impact early in his USC career. Seymour was in on a few tackles during the game and was flagged for pass interference on a deep ball.

The Trojans received a big blow when it came to the defensive line, however. Defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy (Monrovia, Calif./Monrovia) committed to the California Golden Bears -- one of three California commits on the day -- putting USC in a very difficult position to land arguably the top defensive lineman in the state. McCarthy will officially visit USC in the coming weeks and the Trojans will still have a chance to sign him, but California has to be considered the heavy favorite at this point. USC will also face an uphill battle for defensive end Tyriq McCord (Tampa, Fla./Jefferson), who committed to Miami during the game. McCord is scheduled to visit USC on Jan. 20, but pulling him away from home could be difficult.

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What to watch this weekend 

December, 8, 2011
12/08/11
8:13
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Will ASU or UCLA fill coaching vacancies?
We asked this exact question last week. Fast forward seven days and still neither school has named a new head coach. On Wednesday, it looked like a done deal that June Jones was headed to Arizona State. Reportedly, Jones even had his coaching staff pulled off the road and told to pack their bags for Tempe.

However, the deal fell through in the last hour and where the Sun Devils go from here is anybody’s guess.

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