WeAreSC staffers give their picks for the most dominant performer in spring ball so far on offense and defense.
I think it bodes well for the Trojans that both of my picks come from the line.
I’ll go with Kevin Graf on offense. It just looks like Kevin is really in command of his game right now and that should come as no surprise for a fifth-year senior. He’s also in the best shape of his USC career, and that is adding up to a pretty dominant force at the right tackle spot. Runner-up: Nelson Agholor.
On defense, it’s hard to ignore the overall talent of Leonard Williams. He has picked up right where he left off last fall when he finished the year so strong and ended up being named the top defensive freshman in the conference. If he keeps progressing this way, that will only be the first of many honors he’s going to end up with before he leaves USC. Runner-up: George Uko.
Offense: There have been some surprises in the early going from upstarts like tailback Buck Allen and wide receiver Nelson Agholor, but given the need to manage the offense and move the ball, I like what quarterback Cody Kessler has done. He has shown he can get the ball downfield, read defenses appropriately and improvise on a dime. I agree with head coach Lane Kiffin in saying this kid is a “gamer.”
Defense: Although linebacker Lamar Dawson has had an exceptional spring in terms of development -- thanks to the 5-2 defense -- I would say that defensive tackle Leonard Williams and linebacker Hayes Pullard have been the most dominant forces. Each has been an all-star and figures to be prime candidates for post-season honors down the road.
On offense, I’m going to go with wideout Nelson Agholor. It seems like a practice just can’t go by without Agholor making at least one highlight-reel play that catches everyone’s attention. More than that, he’s worked hard this spring to fine-tune all of the little aspects of his game, and he just doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes. With Marqise Lee sidelined, he’s really developed into a go-to guy, and it’s safe to say that he’s already all-but-locked-up that No. 2 receiver spot.
Defensively, Hayes Pullard is the player that has caught my eye most often this spring. Adapting nicely over to the Mike linebacker position in Clancy Pendergast’s 5-2 set, he’s emerged as the leader of the defense. He doesn’t necessarily play with a lot of flash, but he certainly has the heady presence of a veteran, and he always puts himself in the right position to make the play. Showcasing fantastic football instincts and a physical brand of play, he sets the tone for the entire unit, and he’s going to be fun to watch in 2013.