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USC Spring Ball 2021: My Top Performers On Offense & Defense

April 28, 2021
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Spring Ball is generally a time to teach fundamentals, technique and set a tone for the program heading in to the three months before Fall Camp. But there are always standout performers on both sides of the ball.

I've listed my Top two guys on both sides of the ball and added an extra player to mention his impressive development into a team leader.

Earlier today we published an article on a few surprises and LB Kanai Mauga made that list and mine. And quite frankly, Michael Jackson III could be added to my list as well. Both Mauga and Jackson have had an exceptional Spring.

We can break this down into more detail after Spring Ball ends, but practice reports have been extremely detailed and no need for me to overcomplicate this. I’m just adding my simple takes. 

Here’s my list of Top USC Spring Ball 2021 Performers.

KANAI MAUGA:

Mauga was a kid who showed up at the USC Invite Only Camp four years ago and I had no idea who he was. I was so impressed with his camp performance, at the break I ran to find Chris Talamaivao (Viane’s father/Giant Skillz) to find out who this unknown kid playing with his hair on fire was.

He’s played his rear end off since his arrival and been a valuable asset at several different spots. He was used mostly as a pass rusher off the edge early on and found a home as an inside linebacker for Todd Orlando. He's been consistently one of the best performers each practice I've been to and we expect Kanai to have a breakout season in 2021 like Uchenna Nowosu in 2016.

USC Scoop
Kanai Mauga

 

TULI TUIPULOTU:

Tuipulotu was a kid I saw frequently in practice at Lawndale HS, but never actually saw him play until the 2020 Polynesian Bowl. Tuli, Kobe Pepe and Jamar Sekona all played in that prestigious event and Tuipulotu had one of the mosty impressive weeks of anyone there. In fact, I was asked on radio the day after the game what I thought of his performance that week.

“I think Tuli will be a far bigger impact player at USC than anyone thinks,” was my take.

I can’t lie and claim I thought his impact would be greatly felt as a true freshman, but it was and now he’s potentially one of the premier defensive linemen in the Pac-12 as a sophomore. At some point Tuli will be following his brother Marlon to the NFL.

USC Scoop
Tuli Tuipulotu

 

DRAKE LONDON:

It took one trip to Moorpark HS to see Drake London to realize why Keary Colbert, Gavin Morris, Clay Helton and staff were so high on him. London’s a unique athlete and at one time planned on playing football and hoops for the Trojans.

When it became clear he was one of the elite ballers in the nation after his freshman and sophomore football seasons, London decided to focus on football. London is 6-5 and 215 pounds, but he runs routes like a much smaller receiver.

He’s not limited in playing like your typical dude with tight end size, he can run past and around defenders. His bend is impressive enough to grab balls nearly scraping the turf, yet he’ll haul in passes well above most reaches. 

London is a future First-Round NFL Draft Pick. Based on his play the past two years, his grind, focus, his mental/physical toughness and what we’ve seen this Spring, many believe he’s the Top Wide Receiver in the Conference.

Enjoy 2021 USC Fans, because Drake London will be playing on Sundays in 2022.

John McGillen via USC Athletics
Drake London

 

KEAONTAY INGRAM:

​​Keaontay Ingram was a 4-Star running back USC heavily pursued in high school. The Carthage (TX) standout eventually signed and enrolled at Texas in June 2018. 

As a 2018 freshman, he ran for 708 yards on 142 tries (5.0 avg) with 3 TDs, caught 27 passes for 170 yards (6.3 avg) with 2 TDs. He led Texas in rushing as a 2019 sophomore, gaining 853 yards on 144 carries (5.9 avg) with 7 TDs and he also had 29 receptions for 242 yards (8.3 avg) with 3 scores while starting 13 games.

With the arrival of Bijan Robinson in 2020 and hamstring issues, Ingram was limited to playing in six games and finished the season rushing for 250 yards on 53 carries. That was significant dropoff in production from 2018 and 2019, but he would’ve still been a big part of the offense at Texas.

It was clear to everyone Robinson would be the featured back this season, but there was also a tremendous amount of toxicity in Austin that prompted several players, like Xavion Alford, to leave the Longhorn program.

It was USC’s great fortune to land the big, powerful, explosive and agile back. Ingram is also a big threat as a pass catcher and we’ve been impressed enough with what we’ve seen from him to add Ingram to this list.

“A running back makes this list?” you ask?

Yes, I may be the only one, but I believe the USC Offensive Line will have a solid 2021 season resulting in the run game being a threat once again for the Trojans. USC is also stocked with talented running backs.

John McGillen/USC Athletics
Keaontay Ingram

 

CHASE WILLIAMS:

USC began its pursuit of Strong Safety Chase Williams as a wide receiver and basically stopped recruiting him until they evaluated him as a defensive back. So he bacame a somewhat late addition to the 2018 recruiting class.

Williams enrolled in Spring 2018 and began his career as a safety and played some nickel. He also played some on special teams. He only played four games and redshirted. He played in 11 games his second season and by the Covid-19 shortened 2020 season, was a key member of the secondary. He even started for Talanoa Hufanga versus Washington St., recording four tackles and recovering a fumble.

This Spring we noticed a huge difference in how vocal a leader Williams had become and he’s been praised by Craig Naivar, Clay Helton and other coaches for his play this Spring and the leadership role he’s grown into. With the ACL injury to Max Williams and Isaiah Pola-Mao moving to Nickel, Williams will likely be one of the starting Safeties for the Trojans this season.

No player is more vocal or brings more energy to each practice than Chase Williams. So, he makes my list of Top Spring Perfromers for the Trojans based off that and his solid play.

USC Scoop
Chase Williams

 

***Practice No. 15 will be Saturday May 1 and USC SCOOP will be there. That will be the Final Practice for Spring 2021.

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USC Spring Ball 2021: My Top Performers On Offense & Defense

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