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    [2021] USC Preseason Practice Report: 5 New Standouts

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    :usc: Los Angeles, CA -- 

    With the season looming, USC is looking to win its third ever PAC-12 title. Following former coach iliveinadreamtorium's resignation after 8 seasons, coach Jumbo has taken over the program and is looking to build on his coaching success in 2020, where he lead a Pittsburgh Panthers squad that was unranked in preseason to the semifinals of the 2020 College Football Playoff™. A San Diego native, Jumbo said he was happy to be "closer to home" and looked forward to trying to bring new heights to a program with a large amount of historical success.




    The new coach picked out his 5 standout players from the preseason who might be unknowns to Trojans fans for now. All of them, however, will be major contributors this year as new starters on the team.





    QB Marc Lockwood, 4/4 Jr, Scrambler


    Now on his 4th season on USC's roster, Lockwood was the primary backup to Luke Trickett for the last 2 seasons. Lockwood was expecting to take over as a senior, but Trickett surprised many by entering the draft early (he was selected in the 3rd round by the New England Patriots). Lockwood is not as naturally skilled a passer as Trickett was, as he has been criticized for his funky delivery in camp, but his athleticism is great and he will be a serious threat on the ground. Plus, he has a great proven receiver in 1st team All-Pac 12 Samuel Gulla he can rely on when the going gets tough. USC's stature as a top 10 team, as has been floated in preseason, will depend heavily on Lockwood's performance.





    RB Bernard Shook - 4.5/4.5 Sr, Speed Back


    A JUCO transfer from Chabot College in Hayward, CA, Shook faced some fierce competition from a loaded Trojans backfield but ended up narrowly winning the starting job over the more bulky Marcus Copeland and redshirt freshman power back Charles Bowser due to his electrifying speed. Shook constantly made plays with the ball during practice in the spring and it carried over to the summer as he made some Trojans defenders look absolutely silly. Shook will try to replace Jesus Cordero and try to carry the load to help out new quarterback Lockwood, though the coach noted that Copeland and Bowser will also be rotated in on occasion to take some carries.





    WR Marc Ponder, 3/5 Fr, Speed Receiver


    A very skinny receiver at 6'3 161, Ponder was a highly touted recruit but was redshirted last year as he would have likely been only the 4th receiver on the depth chart behind Sam Gulla, Sean Waller, and Emmanuel Jenkins. He came into practice this year and Jumbo expected him to play out of the slot in his first year, but a very impressive spring has landed him in the WR2 role. Ponder's straight line speed isn't the fastest, but his agility and acceleration make him a serious threat with the ball in his hands. Lack of focus on Ponder could make things dangerous for opposing defenses who already have to deal with Gulla.





    DE Terrell Francis, 3/3 Fr, Pass Rushing End


    Francis, a bit skinny for a defensive end at 6'6 240, was not recruited with the expectation that he would start in 2021 - USC's two starters, Ilan Kuhn and Nasir Womack were both juniors. However, with both declaring for the draft two defensive end spots opened up. With strong performances throughout, Francis managed to win a starting job on a defense that will feature 3 true freshman starters this season. USC's defensive coordinator is having him focus on staying committed to keeping the edge against running plays as there are some dangerous runningbacks in the conference - his pass rush skills look to be pretty refined as he already has a large set of pass rushing moves.





    ILB Nate Garrett, 3/4.5 Fr, Coverage Linebacker


    Garrett was the jewel of USC's 2020 recruiting class, but did not necessarily come in with expectations of starting as 2020 starter Kamari Wiggins was still on the roster. However, with a new coach comes a clean slate and Garrett was perhaps the most impressive player on the defense during the offseason program. Garrett is already a vocal leader who came into practices having already memorized the Trojans' entire defensive playbook, and Jumbo gave him the starting nod due to his superior coverage ability compared to Wiggins as well as the leadership he brings even as a true freshman. Wiggins is playing next to two outstanding linebackers to form one of the nation's best young linebacking corps, and he has said that he hopes to be a 4-year starter at USC. A Malibu native, Garrett is commuting from his Malibu home to practice this year.





    With a new coach comes a lot of new changes, as USC has new offensive and defensive coordinators and many new hopeful contributors. With expectations high and a good performance during practices, the team faces a strong challenge early as they host likely Top 10 foe TCU in the first week of the season. We'll have to wait until then to see if all the hard work this offseason paid off for these new starters.



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    Shook is gonna be real good running behind a solid OLine and it looks like the WRs/TEs will help bail our Lockwood, if he struggles at all. Garrett is a huge get at 3/4.5 and a true frosh, hopefull Trevon can wiggle through the slightly less imposing DLine. Great team there...too bad they're Trojans. :) 

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