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USC Football

A Pair Of Takes: The Emerging Five

April 7, 2021
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I wish spring practice were open for the fans to attend so they can see what we're seeing.  And that's a bigger football team.  Not so much muscles bulging big, which they are, but more, just naturally big.--Kind of like those Pete Carroll-coached teams.  You can tell that more players pass the eyeball test—the younger ones in particular.  When you look around and see newbies like Xamarion Gordon and Anthony Beavers, you might think they were 2nd or 3rd-year players.  They're true freshmen.  They are also two of a handful of players who could emerge as significant contributors in 2021.

Josh and I have each chosen five guys who we feel could emerge onto the scene this fall.  And if football doesn't work out for these individuals, they can use our contrived title, The Emerging Five, and start a boy band.

Truth be told, there are several more players who should be on the list and we’ll talk about them too over the course of the next few weeks. 

Marc Kulkin--

John Jackson, III
Hey, you can't have a boy band with five guys and not have a Jackson as a member, right?  John Jackson III is a legacy, and his father was one of the best who ever suited for the Trojans.  JJ3 has been patient his first couple of years, playing behind Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns.  Those guys are gone, so now is the time for JJ to secure his spot in the rotation.  Based on his first few days of spring camp, he looks like he's ready to take the job.

Michael Jackson, Jr.
The early leader in the rookie room is Michael Jackson.  He already has a handful of highlight plays that USC social media is promoting, and he's only getting started.  Michael is one of those guys who takes pride in his craft.  He's dedicated.  If you're a WR in the room, watch how MikeJack prepares.  Because if you're thinking about beating him out for a spot, you're going to have to work twice as hard.  He doesn't appear to drop many balls, and toughness is not an issue so far.

Joshua Jackson, Jr.
Yes, I sense the same thing you're seeing, and no, these guys are not related to each other outside of the Trojan Family.  But, they are each making an impression; and perhaps none more than Josh.  Last year when Jackson arrived early at USC, he joined the program as a WR.  During the off-season, he went into the coaches and asked to switch to the other side of the ball and play defense.  It may have been the best decision made, right after choosing to attend the University of Southern California.  Since the move to cornerback, Jackson has flourished.  Now, Chris Steele is coming back to claim a spot, so the competition is about to get a lot more intense. "respectively."

Tuli Tuipulotu
The younger, more talkative Tuipulotu made his presence known last year while playing in the shadows of older brother Marlon.  But now, Tuli is ready to be his own man and create his own shine like his big brother, who is about to be drafted by the NFL.  If Tuli continues to develop at the pace he is, we'll see him in Cardinal & Gold this season and in 2022 before he goes off to the NFL.  He continues to make plays when he's lined up on the line of scrimmage, and once he learns how to play zone coverage, his value will shoot through the roof.  During the Coliseum practice on Tuesday, Tuipulotu came crashing down the line behind the LOS and dragged down the ball carrier that would have reminded many of a speed-rushing defensive end. 

Chase Williams
Sometimes you can tell when a player has turned the corner.  It could be the way they carry themselves on the field, or it might be the way they're leading vocally.  In Chase's case, he's showing both characteristics.  Talanoa Hufanga is deciding which new new tractor for the family farm after he hears his name called in the draft; Chase Williams is looking to fill the vacancy left behind.  It’s Williams job to lose.

Josh An--

1.Drake London

I know Drake London is already a household name in USC circles, but he’s got a chance to do something very special in his junior campaign. This is the first year he’s going to be able to focus exclusively on football, and that simply means his ceiling is through the roof. He’s working both on the inside and outside, if you’ve been keeping up with the social media clips, he’s looking every bit like the alpha receiver the Trojans will need for him to be next season. 

   2. Michael Jackson III

We’ll keep it Keary Colbert’s receiver room for this selection as well. Jackson III is one of USC’s early enrollees, and with the receiver room in flux, it looks like he’s made the most of his opportunities so far. Jackson III is a mature freshman who likely would’ve benefitted in the ranking circles from a senior season. Regardless, he’s on campus early and already opening some eyes.

3.  Tuli Tuipulotu

With older brother Marlon NFL bound and Nick Figueroa recovering from offseason surgery, Tuli is currently USC’s most productive returning defensive lineman. It’s early, but he’s got a chance to continue to solidify himself as a standout.

4. Anthony Beavers Jr.

When you’re talking about freshman, the most important early sign is that they look the part physically. Beavers Jr. was an early enrolled and from early pictures, it looks like he has benefitted greatly from Robert Stiner’s offseason program.

5.  Kana’i Mauga

One of the signs a player is emerging on the team is media availability and Kana’i was the first linebacker made available to us last week. Mauga closed strong toward the end of last season and I’m looking forward to seeing him group into one of USC’s starting linebackers with a full offseason next year.

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A Pair Of Takes: The Emerging Five

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