With college football on the horizon, several awards have released watch lists to recognize players expected to perform at a high level during the season. Although USC experienced a somewhat down year in 2010 with an 8-5 finish, the roster is still filled with players who are garnering national recognition.
Junior quarterback Matt Barkley was named to the Walter Camp Award (top player), the Maxwell Award (top player) and the O’Brien Award (top quarterback) watch lists. Barkley threw for 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season, completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 2,791 yards.
Senior tight end Rhett Ellison figures to vie for the Mackey Award (top tight end). Despite a strong crop of young talent at tight end, Ellison will start and provide veteran leadership at the position. He has 19 career starts under his belt, and caught 21 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns in 2010.
Despite missing 2011 spring practice with a back injury, senior linebacker Chris Galippo was named to the Butkus Award (top linebacker) watch list. The line backing corps struggled to find consistency in 2010, but Galippo came on strong to end the season. In five starts at middle linebacker, he recorded 29 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.
Junior center Khaled Holmes and junior offensive tackle Matt Kalil are in the running for the Outland Trophy (top interior lineman). Kalil also found himself on the Playboy 2011 pre-season All-American first team and the watch list for the Lombardi Award (top linemen/linebackers). Both returning starters figure to anchor a thin offensive line for the team in the coming year.
Junior safety T.J. McDonald leads the Trojans in preseason accolades. He was named to the Nagurski Trophy (top defensive player), the Bednarik Award (top defensive player), the Thorpe Award (top defensive back) and the Lott Trophy (top defensive impact player) watch lists. He was also added to the Athlon 2011 pre-season All-American first team. McDonald finished last season with 89 tackles, one sack and three interceptions.
Junior defensive end Nick Perry, who finished with 25 tackles (7.5 for a loss), four sacks and two forced fumbles last season, will compete for the Lombardi Award (top linemen/linebackers) award.
Sophomore wide receiver Robert Woods is a strong candidate for both the Maxwell Award and the Biletnikoff Award (top wide receiver). As a true freshman, he nabbed 65 passes for 792 yards and six touchdowns. Woods also turned in prolific performances on special teams.