USC head coach Lane Kiffin released the team’s post-spring depth chart on Monday, and the most noteworthy element was the decision that Kiffin has yet to make: Who will be the starting quarterback?
After 15 spring practices, the Trojan backfield remains unsettled. Redshirt sophomores Max Wittek and Cody Kessler and freshman Max Browne are all listed as co-starters, meaning that, as expected, the race to replace Matt Barkley will continue well into fall camp.
Though it should come as no surprise that Kiffin is in no rush to choose his next starting signal caller, there were still many significant decisions reflected on the depth chart.
USC’s backfield features another trio of starters, with three running backs vying for the top spot: senior Silas Redd, redshirt sophomore Tre Madden and upstart freshman Justin Davis.
Redd was sidelined for most of the spring while recovering from knee surgery, while Madden has yet to participate in full-contact drills since tearing his ACL last spring. In their absence, Davis took his opportunity and ran with it.
An early enrollee, the Stockton, Calif. native was the most impressive back USC had, and Kiffin made it no secret that he would get a chance to start despite his young age.
Another position of interest was the third receiver spot, and the competition, again, appears to be ongoing. With junior Marqise Lee and sophomore Nelson Agholor listed as starters at each receiver spot, senior De’Von Flournoy and freshman Darreus Rogers are currently listed as their respective backups. Redshirt sophomore wideout Victor Blackwell is listed behind Rogers, meaning he may be a step behind as the team heads into fall, despite his stellar performance in Saturday’s spring game, where he caught seven passes for 155 yards and a touchdown.
The offensive line had perhaps the biggest surprise of any of the position battles, though, as senior right tackle Kevin Graf, a two-year starter, was listed as a co-starter with redshirt freshman Chad Wheeler. Wheeler arrived at USC with a three-star ranking, according to ESPN, yet had a strong enough spring to pressure the incumbent Graf and leapfrog fellow redshirt freshman Zach Banner, who was a four-star recruit in the class of 2012.
The USC defense features an interesting blend of youth and experience. Senior defensive end-turned-outside linebacker Devon Kennard returns to a starting role after missing all of last year because of a torn pectoral muscle. Joining him up front are a host of returning starters, including sophomore defensive end Leonard Williams, redshirt junior defensive tackle George Uko and senior defensive end Morgan Breslin. The starting nose tackle position remains up for grabs with redshirt sophomores Antwaun Woods and Cody Temple sharing the honor for the time being.
Redshirt junior Hayes Pullard returns as the starting Mike linebacker, with redshirt senior Will Andrew serving as his backup. Another battle is being held at the Will linebacker position, with junior Lamar Dawson and redshirt sophomore Anthony Sarao each listed at the top.
In the secondary, many question marks still remain. Only one of the four positions has a clear-cut starter for now, with redshirt junior Anthony Brown starting at one cornerback spot. The remaining three spots each list co-starters, suggesting that Kiffin is not yet through evaluating his mostly unproven defensive backs.
Senior Demetrius Wright and freshman Leon McQuay III are at the top of the free safety position, with redshirt junior Josh Shaw and freshman Su’a Cravens in a battle for the starting spot at strong safety. Cravens shined during the first half of spring but was forced to sit out in the second half because of a knee injury. Senior Torin Harris and sophomore Kevon Seymour are co-starters at the other cornerback position.
With many spots still up for grabs, the intrigue and speculation will certainly continue to ramp up as the beginning of fall camp nears.