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    [2022] USC Preseason Practice Report: 5 New Standouts

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    :usc: Los Angeles, CA --


    In a continuation of last year's article, we'll be taking a look at 5 new players on the Trojans set to receive playing time in 2022 who the fans may not be as familiar with. Following a disappointing season in which the team struggled to 7-6 following the loss of starting QB Marc Lockwood, USC is looking to contend for the PAC-12 title once again in 2022. Some players here were already in the building last season, while some are true freshmen who are pushing to start early on in their careers.


    The coach picked out these 5 as players fans should know going into next season:





    RB Charles Bowser 5-7 216 (So) Vernon Kilpatrick (Malibu CA) 4.0 of 4.5 [Power]


    Bowser rode the pine last year behind 2022 4th round pick Bernard Shook, but he's pushing for playing time in his redshirt sophomore year. A fierce competition is underway between him and senior Marcus Copeland, but Shook has been said to be the more impressive of the two. A small but incredibly muscular back, Bowser is more in the Jesus Cordero mold than the Chester Henson mold, although his talent level is thankfully closer to the latter's. Bowser has the potential to be a 3-year starter if the pans out the way the coaches expect him to. His low center of gravity means he's more of a run at the defenders type of back than one who tries to run around them, so it'll be interesting to see how he fits into the Trojans' current option-based offense.





    OT Anthony McGregor 6-4 319 Fr Desert (Edwards CA) 3.0 of 4.5 [Pass Blocking]


    McGregor was one of head coach Jumbo's primary targets in last year's recruiting class, and he's shown why early in this year's practices, as last year's starting DE Terrell Francis has struggled immensely when facing him. From Edwards, about an hour and a half away from LA, McGregor seems to be the probable left tackle going into next season. On a team that had up-and-down offensive line play last year, but returned 4 of its starters - one of whom McGregor is set to replace - it'll be interesting to see if the increased cohesion along with the talent of McGregor can give Lockwood & company more time this season. And hopefully keep him healthy, as the team's QB depth is still a serious concern after last year.





    DE Damien Bethea 6-6 269 Sr Los Angeles Harbor College (Wilmington CA) 4.5 of 4.5 [Contain]


    A JUCO transfer from LA Harbor College in nearby Wilmington, Bethea grew up dreaming of playing for local schools USC or UCLA despite his family connection to Penn State. He ended up committing to the Trojans due to the team's pitch of an immediate starting spot at the position. Bethea hasn't looked amazing in practices, but he is noted more for his ability to stop the run than to rush the passer. We'll see how he performs this year, but the team did experience some struggles last season at the position following both 2019 starting defensive ends declaring for the draft unexpectedly; Bethea, for now, looks to give a boost.





    DT Oluwatoke Abiodun 6-5 289 Sr (Abuja Nigeria) 4.5 of 4.5 [1-Gap]


    Abiodun is a relative newcomer to American football, as he calls it, having only played for two years. He only began playing when coach Daryl Hayes at the Nigerian Institute of American Football noticed him playing rugby, where he was the biggest man on the field. He was convinced to play football, and was coached up by Hayes for the last two years. Hayes used his connections to get Abiodun noticed by the USC coaches, who were impressed enough by his game tape to offer him a scholarship despite never meeting him in person. Abiodun has already developed a reputation for his comedy in the Trojans locker room, and with his only real competition in camp this year coming from 5* recruit Christian Callahan, he has a chance to start in the team's 4-3 in his only year. He hopes to get drafted into the NFL this next offseason, which with his practice performance thus far at a high profile school, might not be such a high bar after all.





    CB Maximillian Wilcox 5-11 164 Fr Long Beach Polytechnic ( CA) 2.0 of 5.0 [Man Coverage]


    There's something quite different people notice about Wilcox when they see him playing corner - he's white. "Most teams recruiting me thought I should be playing receiver or safety instead, but I've always wanted to play corner" he told reporters at his commitment press conference. USC was one of the few schools that offered to let him play corner in his recruitment process. And with USC's weak returning depth at the position, he has a rare chance to play immediately as a true freshman. In fact, it looks like 3 true freshmen might end up as the team's top 3 corners. Wilcox just has to be glad that his coach gives young players the opportunity to start, but with 3 picks in the first two days of practice along with his status as a 5* recruit, he might have been able to fight his way into a starting position anyway.




    After a disappointing first year in charge, coach Jumbo is looking to fulfill a goal he set out last year - "to win the PAC-12. Hell, I still haven't won a conference championship in my coaching career thus far" he told me with a laugh. We'll see if the team can finally get him to the top in 2022.

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