#10 – John David Booty – While memories of Matt Leinart dominating the competition are still fresh in the minds of Trojan fans, it doesn’t seem like that long ago that he was an unproven talent, asked to fill the shoes of a Heisman Trophy winner. This season, John David Booty will find himself in the exact same situation. The scary part for Trojan opponents is that Booty looks to be much further along than Leinart was. Even though he missed most of spring practice after having surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back, Booty should step right back behind center during the fall. A supreme talent, he has the arm to make every throw, the athleticism to move in the pocket and the poise of a three-year starter. Although he played exclusively in mop-up time last season, he showed flashes of brilliance and the promise that should make Trojan fans happy. A 64% completion rating in 42 attempts last year shows that he can put the ball wherever he wants, but it’s his arm strength that has coaches and teammates buzzing.
#6 – Mark Sanchez – The quarterback job was supposed to be seamlessly handed from Matt Leinart to John David Booty, but Mark Sanchez’s performance during spring practice has put something of a wrinkle in that plan. Booty still might earn the starting nod, but Sanchez proved that the gap between them isn’t as wide as some may have thought. Sanchez has a cannon for an arm and is a brilliant leader. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether or not his skills translate to the speed and skill of the college game. After redshirting last season, Mark Sanchez will see action in more than a few games this year.
#16 – Michael McDonald – The third-string quarterback in 2005, Michael McDonald is a valuable asset to the Trojans. In his first action at USC, McDonald entered the Arkansas game last season and completed his only pass attempt for a four-yard touchdown. Thinking of stepping away from the team, the Trojan coaches talked him back in after this season’s spring practice. He will again serve as the third-string quarterback in 2006.
#14 – Garrett Green – Garrett Green was one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the state as a senior, with great skills both running and throwing. Green is also a fantastic leader, guiding his team to consecutive CIF titles and compiling a record of 38-2 as a starting quarterback. As a senior, Green completed 88 of 141 passes for 1,527 yards and 14 touchdowns, and added 945 yards and eight touchdowns on 92 carries. Green will look to take over the number three quarterback spot and learn from John David Booty and Mark Sanchez.
#23 – Chauncey Washington – Chauncey Washington hasn’t seen the field in two years and is already becoming a fan favorite due to his determination in the classroom. Academically ineligible for the past two seasons, Washington spent the spring shoring up his standing in the classroom and finished the semester in great shape. When fall practice begins, Washington looks to be the starter at running back. People will describe his running style as comparable to LenDale White’s bruising style, but Washington is more of a free spirit with the ball in his hand. That’s not to say that White couldn’t express himself, but it’s not fair to try and pigeonhole Washington into a specific style. His talent is beyond that. At any time, Washington can bounce it outside, hit a hole inside, put a move on a cornerback or bowl over a linebacker. He is the definition of a complete back and Trojan fans will realize that once they see him with the ball in his hands.
#27 – Michael Coleman – After entering USC a semester early, Michael Coleman fought through a nagging hip injury all last season, determined to see the field as much as possible. Overall, he rushed for 95 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries. As long as his hip is healthy, Coleman should be in the thick of things at the tailback position and will see his share of carries this season. He has a solid frame and a thunderous running style that make him an asset in short-yardage situations.
#22 – Desmond Reed – A brutal knee injury suffered against Notre Dame last year will more than likely keep Desmond Reed out of action in 2006. A fantastic talent and emotional catalyst, Reed would have infused a healthy dose of competition in the battle for the starting running back spot. At this point, it looks like Trojan fans will have to settle for hoping to see Reed back on the field in cardinal and gold in two years. Although, few things would match the elation felt by seeing Reed take the field at any point this season.
#34 – Hershel Dennis – Another setback in a long line of hard-luck happenings occurred this spring as Hershel Dennis, looking to regain the form that made him a starter in 2003, re-tore ligaments in his left knee and was forced to miss the rest of the spring session. The injury and surgery will force him to miss the entirety of the 2006 season. Dennis has the talent to put up All-American numbers at tailback, but must petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility in order to have a chance to show it on the field. He would have had an immediate and undeniable impact on the Trojan offense this season and this injury is a tough thing to watch Dennis fight through.
#13 – Stafon Johnson – In his four years at Dorsey High School, Stafon Johnson set the Los Angeles City rushing record, with 5,777 yards and 58 touchdowns. Johnson is the best running back in California and is absolutely everything you could want in a tailback. He is strong enough to run between the tackles, fast enough to get outside, and quick enough to make anyone miss. During his senior year, Johnson became the first Dorsey football player to run for over 2,000 yards in a season. With the wide-open state of the Trojan offensive backfield, Stafon Johnson will be a serious threat to take over the starting job in 2006.
#25 – C.J. Gable – C.J. Gable might be the most athletic player in this incoming class. With the ability to dominate a game on either side of the ball, Gable was ranked as both a top-10 running back as well as a top-five safety by Scout.com. A perfect blend of speed, strength and style, Gable rushed for 2,300 yards and 29 touchdowns, racked up another 360 yards and four touchdowns on receptions and intercepted seven passes on defense during his senior year. Gable is a tough, hard-charging runner, able to constantly bounce off or simply run away from the first tackler. He carries his toughness over to the defensive side of the ball as well, delivering punishing hits on receivers and runners alike. Gable will get numerous looks on both sides of the ball during Fall camp and finding him a permanent home will be an anticipated challenge for the Trojan coaching staff.
#38 – Emmanuel Moody – Emmanuel Moody is a smooth, shifty runner with a strong lower body and an arsenal of ridiculous moves. He doesn’t have the breakaway speed of other tailbacks, but Moody picks up plenty of extra yards with his agility, strength and vision. He is also very capable of slipping out of the backfield and can be a huge asset in the passing game. As a senior, Moody rushed for close to 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns. In the fall, he’ll throw himself headlong into the battle for the starting tailback position and could end up playing a role in the Trojans offense as early as this season.
#40 – Brandon Hancock – Brandon Hancock served as a backup fullback last season and looks to take the position for himself heading into the 2006 season. With speed that doesn’t seem possible for a man of his stature, Hancock is a powerful weapon as a lead blocker and an absolute menace for linebackers in the open field. He will help open holes for any running back who lines up behind him, but he will also be a valuable asset in the passing game. As a reserve last season, Hancock caught nine passes for 102 yards.
#37 – Ryan Powdrell – Lost in the shuffle at linebacker, Ryan Powdrell was moved to the offensive side of the ball during this year’s spring practice and managed to make a name for himself carrying the ball. When the season starts, he’ll be moved from tailback to fullback where he will back up Brandon Hancock.
#35 – Jody Adewale – Jody Adewale will provide depth at the fullback position this season. He may also be called upon for special teams duty.
#31 – Stanley Havili – At 6-2 and 215 pounds, Havili has deceptive speed and is able to pull away from defensive backs in the open field. His running style also makes it very hard for defenders to bring him down as he is able to stay low at the point of contact and rub off body contact and arm tackles from defenders. He is better when going north and south, but has the elusiveness of a smaller back when it comes to moving east and west.
#30 – Mike Brittingham – Mike Brittingham earned a scholarship last season and saw playing time in all 13 games. This season, he will again provide depth at the fullback position and on special teams.
#29 – John Griffin – John Griffin will provide depth at tailback this season.
#8 – Dwayne Jarrett – Dwayne Jarrett lining up at wide receiver is unfair to every defensive back in the Pac-10. If Mike Williams hadn’t recently made Trojan fans immune to spectacular performances and amazing numbers from the wide receiver position, Dwayne Jarrett would have a building on campus named after him. The numbers that he has put up in just two short seasons are beyond comprehension. With 62 catches this season (he had 91 last year) Jarrett will break the USC record for receptions in a career. With two touchdown grabs he will go ahead of Williams for the USC record and with four grabs, he will break the Pac-10 record. He has caught a pass in every game he has played and should be a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award this season. As a wide receiver, Jarrett can do absolutely everything. His height allows him to catch every jump ball; his speed lets him beat cornerbacks deep down the field and his toughness makes him able to grab anything over the middle of the field. The images of him going head-over-heels against Cal two years ago and making the one-handed touchdown catch against Washington last season are some that Trojan fans won’t soon forget. Jarrett’s maturation from his freshman year to sophomore was evident in his practice style and his demeanor both on and off the field. With another season of maturation, Jarrett could be on his way to improving upon his 91 catch, 1,274 yard, 16 touchdown season, and that just isn’t fair.
#2 – Steve Smith – Steve Smith had an outstanding start to the season last year before Dwayne Jarrett began taking games over. He opened the season with 185 receiving yards against Hawaii and followed that up with 129 against Arkansas. His only other 100-yard game came against Arizona and he closed the season out with seven consecutive games with fewer than 80 receiving yards. Smith might not be the tallest or the fastest wide receiver, but it would be tough to find a better number two receiver in the nation. His precise route running and ability to constantly find the open space in the defense make him an invaluable asset to the passing game. Also, lined up opposite Jarrett, Smith has the ability to go for a huge game if the defense lets him run free. He will keep defenses honest and is an asset in the passing game as well. And even with that tail off in the season’s final games, Smith still had a fantastic year, catching 60 passes for 957 yards and five touchdowns. It’s tough to say if Smith will surpass those numbers, due to the quarterback situation, but it’s easy to see that he will have a huge impact on the success of the Trojan offense.
#82 – Chris McFoy – For four years, Chris McFoy has been the consummate team player. McFoy caught 17 passes last season for 172 yards. But what separates McFoy from just about every other wide receiver is his ability and desire to block for his teammates. He will sprint downfield to get in the way of safeties, come across the middle and pick a linebacker and even cut back and take out a defensive end. He will again provide valuable depth at wide receiver this season as he receives plenty of playing time.
#1 – Patrick Turner – This third in the line of tall, dominating, out-of-state wide receivers, Patrick Turner saw action in 12 games last season, catching 12 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Turner has an unstoppable combination of power, size and speed and should become more of a receiving threat this season. One of the best things Turner has going for him is that he spent most of his game time last season playing with new quarterback John David Booty during the final few minutes of each game. The two of them developed a strong connection as Turner caught a majority of his passes and both touchdowns from the future Trojans quarterback. This season, Turner will be one of the first wide receivers in the game after starters Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith.
#7 – Vidal Hazelton – One of the most polished wide receiver recruits in several years, Vidal Hazelton will look to make an immediate impact this season. He has a great combination of size, speed, hands and route running ability and could start to push some of the returning receivers as early as fall practice.
#19 – David Ausberry – As yet another six-foot-four wide receiver making his way onto the USC campus, David Ausberry looks to follow in the footsteps of past and present pass-catching giants such as Mike Williams, Dwayne Jarrett and Patrick Turner. On the football field, Ausberry can literally do it all. His combination of obvious athleticism and height, along with some surprising speed, make him difficult to defend for any cornerback. He is confident in his abilities as well, which is an absolute must if he is going to vie for playing time as a true freshman.
#17 – Travon Patterson – Travon Patterson combines that devastating speed with great hands, moves and football smarts to the point that he could see the field as early as this fall. At just 5-9, he lacks the height to challenge for jump balls, but he has no problem finding seams in the defense or getting behind the secondary with his speed.
#18 – Jamere Holland – Jamere Holland’s speed is entirely undeniable and nearly unbelievable. As a senior, Holland caught 56 passes for 1,188 yards and seven touchdowns. Holland will need to work on his strength in order to beat jams and create separation so that he can use his speed, but he also has the height, standing over six feet tall, to be a physical factor as well. Opposing teams will look to keep Holland out of the open field, but his presence could be felt right away as the Trojans will be looking for a punt and kick returner due to the departure of Reggie Bush. The Trojans haven’t had a serious speed threat on the outside in a few years and it will be exciting to see how the Trojan coaches choose to utilize Holland’s talents.
#48 – Brad Walker – Brad Walker will provide depth at wide receiver this season.
#83 – Fred Davis – Fred Davis is one of a few Trojans just waiting to have a monster year. In a season that saw the offense somewhat underutilize the tight end position, Davis caught 13 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. He entered USC in the spring of 2004 as a wide receiver and has maintained that pass catching ability and nose for the ball. His blocking ability and understanding of the position have improved each season and should help him become a dominant force this year. He will be the starter and will present a match up problem for opposing linebackers and safeties alike.
#88 – Jimmy Miller – With the departure of starting tight end Dominique Byrd, the Trojan tight ends all move up a notch on the depth chart ladder, which means Jimmy Miller should become a part of the offense. Last season, Miller caught three passes, two of which went for touchdowns. He will again provide depth at tight end this season.
#89 – Dale Thompson – Dale Thompson will provide depth at the tight end position in 2006. Last season, Thompson caught one pass against UCLA.
#81 – Gerald Washington – Gerald Washington enrolled at USC for the spring semester and he made everyone aware of his presence immediately. At 6’6” and 255 pounds, Washington is not a small man, and watching him run tight end routes makes you worry for whoever ends up tackling him. If Washington can wrap his head around the playbook and adjust to the speed of Division I college football, he could be a big time weapon for the offense.
#87 – Nick Vanderboom – Nick Vanderboom will provide depth at the tight end position in 2006.
#86 – Anthony McCoy – Anthony McCoy combines a solid frame with outstanding athleticism to provide the Trojans yet another dual threat in this incoming class. A natural wide receiver, McCoy has the ability to bulk up into a tight end, or switch gears completely and become a defensive end.
#79 – Sam Baker – Arguably the best offensive tackle in America, Sam Baker returns for his third season as a starter. His solid play will benefit the Trojans even more this year as he will be forced to protect the quarterback’s blind side for the first time. A 2006 Playboy Pre-Season All American, Baker is on the short list of every award an offensive lineman can win. Even with three starting linemen gone to the NFL, Baker’s presence alone makes this a strong unit heading into the season. He has an amazing mental grasp of the position and always seems to counter a defensive end’s move before he even makes it. Having a guy like Sam Baker protecting the blind side will make it a smoother transition for any quarterback.
#76 – Nick Howell – A redshirt freshman, Nick Howell will provide depth at left tackle this season as he learns from Sam Baker, one of the best in the game.
#77 – Thomas Herring – After not qualifying in 2004 and missing the 2005 season with a knee injury, it seems like Thomas Herring’s career is passing him by. But as the 2006 season opens, Herring is just a redshirt freshman with four years ahead of him still. He has all the tools to become one of the most dominating right tackles in the game and whether or not that happens is solely up to him. He will serve as a backup at right tackle heading into the season, but if he is able to turn it on, look for him to push for major playing time.
#53 – Jeff Byers – After starting four games as a freshman in 2004, Jeff Byers used his redshirt season in 2005 while recovering from hip surgery. After sitting out several spring practices, Byers should be ready to step into the starting left guard spot in the fall. He is an outstanding talent and should do a superb job in replacing second-round pick Taitusi Lutui.
#60 – Drew Radovich – Drew Radovich will provide depth along the offensive line this season. He will be a key to the offense as one of the first players off the bench.
#67 – Ryan Kalil – The anchor of the offensive line, Ryan Kalil returns for his senior season at center. Much has been made of the three starters lost along the line, but Ryan Kalil and Sam Baker could line up next to three sandbags and form a pretty solid offensive line. Kalil isn’t the biggest center in the nation, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a smarter, more reliable and mechanically sound performer. As the Trojans break in a new starting quarterback and a brand new running game, Kalil will be called upon even more this year to help with blocking assignments, protection audibles and general leadership. The Trojans couldn’t possibly be in more able hands.
#63 – Travis Draper – Travis Draper will move back to the offensive line this season after serving as a backup nose tackle in 2005. Draper will serve as the number two center but offers much-needed depth at multiple positions along the line due to his ability to play guard as well. He will be one of the first guys off the bench and shouldn’t allow for any noticeable drop off in production.
#66 – Chilo Rachal – Chilo Rachal provided depth along the offensive line last season and will step into the starter’s role at right guard this year. He has the physical stature and desire to become a legitimate star and should become the next great Trojan lineman this season.
#70 – Alatini Malu – After serving as a backup offensive guard last season, Alatini Malu will again provide depth along the line this year. If called to action, Malu’s huge frame could help him have the same kind of impact along the interior of the line as Taitusi Lutui’s did last season.
#74 – Zack Heberer – With graduation and early defections taking their toll on the Trojans’ offensive line, Zack Heberer is a great pick-up for the Trojans in this incoming class. While he probably won’t make a significant impact on the starting lineup as a true freshman, he is a great talent who should see the field as at least a backup in the not-too-distant future. Heberer possesses a great combination of size, strength and agility. He also demonstrates great balance and an understanding of leverage and positioning, able to move his defender any way he wants by establishing a lower pad level and using their momentum to drive them away from the play. Heberer is a great student of the game and will spend his Trojan career soaking up everything he can about the game of football from offensive line coach Pat Ruel.
#78 – Kyle Williams – Kyle Williams will assume the starting right tackle position heading into the 2006 season. Williams has plenty of experience, especially at right tackle so he should be able to step into the position without a noticeable drop off. Although Williams enters fall practice as the starter, he will need to perform well to keep the backups on the bench.
#71 – Charles Brown – Charles Brown used his redshirt year last season as he made the switch from tight end to offensive tackle. He will provide depth at right tackle and could push for playing time in just his second year.
#69 – Matt Spanos – Matt Spanos will sit out the 2006 season after being deemed academically ineligible. Losing him along the offensive line is a huge blow to the depth chart, as Spanos is capable of playing every position along the line.
#73 – Jonathan Richert – Jonathan Richert will provide depth at offensive guard this season.
#62 – Dominique Wise – Dominique Wise will provide depth at offensive line this year.