“Give your top 5 surprises of spring ball”
1) Brian Baucham -- To say that any contribution from Baucham was unexpected would be an understatement. Baucham has been off the radar for years due to injuries and academics and there was no indication that he was ready to make a strong return, but that’s exactly what’s happened. He’s been consistently making plays ever since he came back during the first week of spring.
2) De’Von Flournoy -- This makes our list because of how far down Flournoy had fallen on the coaches’ confidence list last fall. Flournoy worked hard through the off-season, gained some maturity as a veteran player and got a fresh start with a new position coach. The result this spring has been a pretty dependable receiver with a team-first attitude.
3) Move of Tre Madden -- The move itself was as shocking as anything, particularly since it came just one practice after Madden had received rave reviews for his performance as the first-unit linebacker in place of an injured Dion Bailey. Through these first four days of seeing him in action at a new spot, however, it appears as if the coaches may have gotten this one right. Madden looks very comfortable in the USC backfield.
4) Loss of tight ends -- Coming into spring this was thought to be one of the deepest positions on the team, even though Christian Thomas was going to miss all of spring while rehabbing a hip injury. Then there were a pair of injuries on the first day to Xavier Grimble and Junior Pomee, followed by Randall Telfer going out with a hamstring injury of his own. By the time the Trojans hit the Coliseum floor last Saturday for a scrimmage, walk-on fullback Hunter Simmons in the first-unit tight end spot.
5) Offensive tackle rotation -- On the first day of spring, the lineup of Kevin Graf at LT and Aundrey Walker at RT looked pretty solid. Lane Kiffin said after practice that if the combination continued to work, then there would be no need to take a look at switching the players around. After the first week, Kiffin switched the two players and said he wanted to look at it for one week. That one week passed and when the team took the field the following Tuesday, Walker was still at left tackle. The coaches say no final decision has been made, but the longer this goes on, the more questions are going to be raised.
Honorable mention -- It hasn’t been a surprise that Marqise Lee is good, it’s just been a surprise at how he just seems to grow by leaps and bounds. He’s been the best player on the practice field this spring, and that’s when he isn’t taking first place in long jumps at a track meet in his spare time.