Transfers Create Depth Issues For USC

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The past week has been a virtual revolving door for the Trojans as the program has seen multiple departures. Losing Kyle Prater, Amir Carlisle, Armond Armstead, and Brice Butler to other programs creates a difficult situation for Lane Kiffin and his staff. Depth was one of the major question marks heading into next season and with limited scholarships these players cannot simply be replaced by the new class of recruits. The coaches may have to adjust their recruiting strategy to meet their needs and they have quite a few of them.

Looking at the depth chart, the Trojans are thinest at the running back position. For a team that started the year with an abundance of backs in the stable, the Trojans are now left with four. Carlisle decided to transfer to Notre Dame, Dillon Baxter left the program, and Marc Tyler graduated. That leaves USC with Curtis McNeal, D.J. Morgan, George Farmer, and Buck Allen. While four may seem like a healthy number should McNeal go down with an injury, Kiffin will be left with three backs who have yet to prove themselves. Carlisle would have been second on the depth chart and was McNeal’s heir apparent. Now he is off to play for a bitter rival. The coaching staff must be really happy about that. The Trojans have also failed to secure a running back for this years recruiting class, something that must be addressed now.

At the wide receiver position the losses of Prater and Butler do not come as much of a surprise. Butler has one year of eligibility left and with the amount of talent and depth that USC has at wide receiver it was unlikely that he would see the field much next season anyway. Plus, he has contemplated transferring before, so a lot of people close to the program probably saw this coming. Prater came in with a great amount of potential, but a combination of injuries and the emergence of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee kept him off the gridiron. He says he will now transfer somewhere close to home. The Trojans now have five players left at wide receiver, which once again creates a depth issue.

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To make matters worse the Trojans only have one wide receiver recruit, Darreus Rogers, committed to play next year and he is rumored to be looking at other schools. Kiffin needs to lock Rogers down and if the scholarship count allows, recruit another receiver. Under normal circumstances moving Farmer back to receiver would seem like a logical choice, but there is no way that the Trojans could survive a season with only three running backs.

Next on the list of depth issues is defensive tackle. George Uko is the only defensive tackle with any real game experience. Antwaun Woods and Christian Heyward redshirted and J.R. Tavai saw little action. While all of these players are talented they need some back up. USC missed out on top prospect Ellis McCarthy, but they remain in the running for Aziz Shittu, who still has a long list of suitors he is considering.

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On a positive note the Trojans have added cornerback Joshua Shaw, a transfer from Florida who had the Trojans listed as one of his finalists before choosing the Gators. He is a talented player that USC fans should be very happy to have. Shaw chose to transfer because of health related issues in his family. That means that he can apply for a hardship waiver that will make him eligible for next season. It is still yet to be seen if the waiver will be granted, but if it is Shaw has the potential to see some immediate playing time in the secondary.

But even with these loses the Trojans will still be over the 75 player maximum. That means that there will be some serious scholarship shuffling this fall. When it comes time for Spring football the Trojans may look quite a bit different, but the main components should all be in place for a national title run.

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