Southern Cal took the field for their Spring Showcase this past weekend. This will be junior Kedon Slovis’ 3rd year in offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s air raid, and the offense should be a fantasy goldmine. After looking spectacular in 2019, the Trojans came out clunky during the COVID-shortened 2020 season and underwhelmed. Losing Michael Pittman, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Tyler Vaughns over the last 2 offseasons has left a lot of potential yards up for grabs, and one or two players from this team will provide great value to fantasy managers.
Kedon Slovis – Jr
The undisputed starter, Slovis has nothing to prove in spring. However, it is helpful to see how his troublesome shoulder is holding up and who his top targets are. Slovis looked like his typical pocket-savvy self and finished 8-12 for 128 yards, at 10.6 yards per attempt. He was picked off early on a badly underthrown pass to the sideline, which wasn’t a very encouraging sign of arm strength.
Slovis will rack up tons of yards and scores for the Trojans in 2021. There is some work to do if he’s going to be a first-round draft pick, in my opinion.
Jaxson Dart – Fr
One of two highly-rated freshmen who signed with USC, Dart played on the Crimson team and got more exposure with the first team skill players, including Drake London. He finished 7-13 for 99 yards (7.6 y/att), with 1 TD and 1 interception. There were some money throws, including his TD, a nicely placed endzone fade put over the shoulder of Michael Jackson III. Another beautiful pass led the receiver to the sideline on a high difficulty completion (clip below).
I liked his athleticism in the pocket and he flashed a little juice when scrambling. Dart plays with some swagger and is an exciting player to monitor. He feels like the favorite to back up Slovis.
Miller Moss – Fr
Moss was the second quarterback on the field for the Gold team. He completed 7 of 13 passes for 34 yards (2.6 y/att) and an interception. Nothing he did stood out to me in his brief audition. Moss appears to be a traditional pocket passer without much flare to his game.
Mo Hasan – rSr
The journeyman transfer Hasan “started” for the Gold team, but I do not think he is going to be any higher than 4th on the depth chart. Entering his 5th season, he attempted 17 total passes while at Vanderbilt. He was 2-2 with an underthrown deep touchdown to Bru McCoy before exiting with a leg injury.
Stephen Carr – rSr
Built like a bellcow back, Carr enters his 5th year at USC standing 6’ tall and weighing 215 pounds. He has shared the rock with many teammates throughout his time in Los Angeles, but has never registered more than 81 carries in any given year. The lone bright spot on his resume? He has 57 receptions in only 34 career games, which shows he can be utilized in the passing game.
Starting for Slovis’ Crimson side, Carr had the best day of any backs on the roster. He ran for 53 yards on 8 carries, including a tough short-yardage score. Carr added a 13-yard reception which he snagged with one hand out of the backfield (clip below). He moves well for a bigger back, and I would not be surprised if he shows out this season.
Keontay Ingram – Sr
The transfer from Texas started for the Gold team, which appeared to be comprised of second-unit players. Ingram possesses tantalizing size at 6’, 220 pounds paired with the ability to catch passes. Much like Carr, he has never taken hold of a backfield. He saw Bijan Robinson’s writing on the wall in Austin, which lead to his transfer.
Ingram carried the ball 7 times for a meager 20 yards but did show off on a 49-yard catch and run that featured his burst and strength with a quality stiff arm (clip below). He did not play on the squad led by Slovis, so it is doubtful he truly leads this backfield. The most likely scenario is a three-headed monster with Carr and the next back on this list.
Vavae Malepeai – rSr
I am sure the coaching staff loves Malepeai, as he seems like the kind of veteran that “keeps you on schedule” and “never takes a play off”. For fantasy purposes, he is likely just going to be annoying. The most boring back on the roster, he will grind out the tough yards and steal some goalline touches. As far as a Campus to Canton or devy asset, I am not interested.
Brandon Campbell – Fr
The freshman from Texas got in this game and went 6-19 on the ground with a reception for 3 yards. He will be a reserve in 2021 unless there are injuries ahead of him. Because the top 3 running backs are seniors, he should have plenty of opportunity to stake his claim in 2022.
Drake London – Jr
Like Slovis and the quarterbacks, there is no question who the leader of the receiving corps is. After multiple stars left for the NFL, it’s London’s time to shine for USC. The 6’5”, 210 pound beast is primed for a feature role this fall and kick-started his campaign with a game-high 7 receptions for 139 yards. He had a long catch from Slovis and almost scored on a short crossing pattern but was tackled inches shy of pay dirt.
London should be one of the top-scoring wide receivers for college fantasy with the high volume passing offense in 2021. He had more than twice the receptions of the next closest player on Saturday and looked like the clear alpha for USC. I have reservations about elite NFL potential, as much of his production comes via finding the soft zone out of the slot, but he is a promising prospect.
Gary Bryant Jr. – So
He only caught 1 pass for 13 yards, but Bryant returned the opening kick, so he will touch the ball in multiple ways. He’s light, listed at only 170 pounds despite a season on campus, and I am unsure if he has any elite gifts. Since he has some seniority over the other contenders, he should be a big part of the offense this upcoming season.
However, I think that he will have to show a little more pop than he did on Saturday to hold off some strong contenders. The 247sports.com comp on Bryant was Robert Woods, which is a great projection. We’ll see if he lives up to it though, Woods broke out as a freshman with a 0.25 weighted dominator rating, so Bryant needs to step on it.
Michael Jackson III – Fr
MJ3 was my favorite under-the-radar wide receiver in this freshman class. He was only a 3 star in the 247sports composite, but I saw a well-built (6’ 200) frame and savvy route runner on his high school film. Safe to say, he has impressed the staff already, running with the Crimson group. He even caught a pass from Slovis himself early in the scrimmage, implying he’s at least rotating in with the starters. It was a little comeback route where he juked the first man upon turning upfield and gained an extra 5 yards.
Later in the scrimmage, he caught a wonderful one-handed touchdown from Dart in the corner of the endzone. With the ball on the five-yard line, he used a shifty cut off the line to beat man coverage and created separation that opened up the window for Dart to drop the ball in (clip below). A third catch was an awesome one-handed sideline grab. From what I could see, he made 2 of the most impressive plays in this game. I already liked this freshman, and the showcase only fanned the flame.
Bru McCoy – rSo
Many people think McCoy is in line for a big promotion after limited duty in his first 2 years. The former 5-star recruit hasn’t lived up to his prospect rating so far and I don’t think it’s looking good that he was on the Gold roster for the spring game. He did have a nice touchdown catch out-jumping a defender on an underthrown deep ball, but only recorded one other short reception in the game.
Billed as a hyper-athlete who could be an all-purpose weapon, it’s possible McCoy just never developed the necessary nuances of a good receiver. Not running with the starters after the roster attrition and entering his 3rd season, I am bearish on McCoy’s potential to live up to the hype.
Tahj Washington – Jr
The transfer from Memphis is not on campus yet, so he didn’t play in the game. I suspect Washington will be the next relevant pass catcher in line. His deep speed is something that no other player on the roster can offer, so he will have that going for him.
Drake London is the star and will gobble up targets from the slot. I think Bryant will compete with Jackson for a similar role on the outside. Washington probably is utilized right away on the outside to stretch defenses, but he may not have a high volume part in the offense.