USC Football

Fall Camp Primer: The USC Wide Receivers

July 26, 2019
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There’s no other way to say it, USC has the best collection of talent on paper at the wide receiver position in the country--and it’s deep.  The depth of talent is so deep, even with the transfers of two four-star players in Trevon Sydney and Josh Imatorbhebhe, the Trojans won’t feel the effects. 

The team returns everyone else at wide receiver from last season and they brought in more talented freshmen Kyle Ford, Bru McCoy, Munir McClain and Drake London into the mix.

By our count, USC will have ten scholarship receivers on the roster and with the air raid offense set for take off, the aerial assault is locked and loaded for a display of shock and awe.  With the Trojans looking to bounce back from a forgettable 2018 season, the wide receivers will be the guys leading the charge with their size, size, and more size.

The senior leader of the group is 6-4 and 220 pound Michael Pittman he’ll not only be the group’s vocal leader, he’ll look to lead by example on the field as well.  Pittman was named to the 2019 preseason Biletnikoff Award watch list, which is awarded to the nations best receiver. He was also added to the Wuerffel Award watch list, which is presented to the student athlete for their community service. 

In 2018 Pittman tallied 41 receptions for 758 yards (18.5 avg) and six TDs, while starting 11 games. He only missed playing against Cal with a shoulder suffered at Oregon State.  Pittmanlet us know at Pac-12 Media Day that one of his personal goals was to be voted as a team captain, because that means he’s earned the respect of his teammates.

Tyler Vaughns is considered the smoothest route runner on the team and while the redshirt junior won’t wow you with speed and size, he’s an extremely athletic and productive pass catcher. Vaughns takes his job very seriously and holds himself accountable when mistakes happen, such as dropping a pass.  If Vaughns drops a pass during player run practices, he drops to do push ups as puishment. 

Vaughns is one of those swiss army-knife type of players who also handles the punt return duties for the Trojans.  In 2018 Vaughns appeared in all 12 games while starting 11. He was the second-leading receiver with 58 catches for 674 yards (11.6 avg) and six touchdowns, but he also added 19 punt returns totaling 199 yards (10.5 avg) and 1 touchdown.  And if that wasn’t enough, Vaughns was also 1-of-1 passing for a 36-yard touchdown  He was ranked 13th nationally in punt returns and first in the conference with a 10.5 average.

Any program in the country would love to have both Pittman & Vaughns lining up on the outside, but neither were USC’s leading receiver in 2018. That distinction belongs to sophomore Amon-Ra St. Brown.  St. Brown led the Trojans with a team-best 60 receptions for 750 yards (12.5 avg) with three touchdowns.  The 6-1 and 200 pound returning sophomore finds himself into some great company as he was just the fourth USC true freshman to lead the Trojans in receptions for a season. Only Mike Williams in 2002, Dwayne Jarrett in 2004 and Robert Woods in 2010 had bigger impacts as true freshmen at USC.

St. Brown has also caught the attention of the national pundits who have included him on the Biletnikoff Award watch list joing teammate Michael Pittman.  USC Scopp anticipates those numbers will incease in 2019.

Assuming Pittman, Vaughns, & St. Brown are the Trojans 2019 starting receivers, they won’t be the only guys on the field seeing the action.  Graham Harrell has a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal and will employ a lot of four wide-receiver sets in 2019.  The biggest benefactor with the switch to the air raid offense might be (RS) junior Velus Jones, who returned to the team after exploring his transfer options during the off season.  

Putting Jones in the slot with quick strike throws could finally see the 6-0, 200 pound speedster put in a position to be successful.  When Jones isn’t catching passes, he’ll be called upon to return kickoffs  where he ranks ninth on USC’s career kickoff return list (1,243 yards).

We spoke about the size of USC’s receivers at the beginning of this piece and the 6-4, 210 pound Devon Williams will look to make his mark in 2019.  When you look at the sophomore, you see a star in the making.   Williams is exceptionally fast for a guy his size, and can jump with the best of them, which should be a big part of the packages designed for Williams.  His incredibly long arms give him a huge catch radius, making him another threat in the red zone with Pittman. 

As a true freshman Williams appeared in all 12-games at receiver and on special teams.  He had four receptions for 87 yards (21.8 avg) and one touchdown. On special teams Williams also returned a blocked punt five yards for a touchdown against UCLA.  Williams will most likely start the 2019 season in a back up role, but looked upon to make a bigger impact this season. For that to happen he must become more consistent.

Williams will have a lot of competition, because 6-2 and 210 pound freshman John Jackson III has been opening eyes since spring and carried that over into summer workouts.  Jackson is a technician and a sure-handed receiver.  He’s a legacy...his dad was the original No.1 jersey at wide receiver and Jackson III will remind you of his dad when you watch him play.  Jackson is my dark horse to see some serious playing time in 2019.

We mentioned the 2019 class of wide receivers who’ve joined the roster this year, what we didn’t mention were their respective sizes.  Five-star Bru McCoy adds his 6-3, 215 pound frame to the Trojans.  How much action McCoy sees in 2019 will ultimately be decided by the NCAA after he submits a request for a waiver. McCoy transferred from Texas in June after originally enrolling at USC and transferring to Texas January.

A new red-shirt rule went into effect in 2018 allowing true freshman to play four games without burning a red shirt year. That’s what we’re anticipating in McCoy’s case depending how healthy he is by Fall Camp next week and if he’s granted as waiver from the NCAA. He’s sat out all but one player-run practice this summer and he’s hoping to shake an illness he’s been hampered by since enrolling last month.

Next up is 6-2 and 210 pound Kyle Ford.  Ford is still recovering from knee surgery in 2018 and just recently put cleats on for the first time since his injury.  Make no mistake about it, Ford is a monster, but he’ll need to get in game shape after missing his senior season at Orange Luthern high school.  It’s anticipated that Ford will red shirt in 2019. 

Drake London (6-5, 205) and Munir McClain (6-4, 210) round out the receiving corp and will look to impose their size and will on smaller defenders in 2019.  Both London and McClain will also benefit from the player-friendly red-shirt rule.  Look for London to join the Mens basketball team when the football season comes to an end, as he may very well be the best athlete on the deep and talented roster of receivers.

They say iron sharpens iron.  Well there’s no shortage of iron at the wide receiver position and the competition during fall camp will be intense...and the competition starts in one week!

 

 
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