“Hello, Anthony Brown, are you there? It’s opportunity knocking.”
With the news on Friday that USC cornerback Isiah Wiley will be academically ineligible for the 2012 season, it officially opens up the starting spot that Wiley held for the last six games of the 2011 season.
Wiley had been held out of fall camp practices as he attempted to get his grades in order through summer school, so it’s not like this is a complete surprise to the Trojans. There have been several other players rotated in at the corner position opposite Nickell Robey in an attempt to find a qualified starter in case Wiley didn’t return.
The player who seems to have settled in most recently at the spot is the sophomore Brown. An aggressive player and sure tackler, Brown actually started two games last season before breaking his left ankle and having surgery, which opened the door for Wiley to enter the lineup.
In his first start against the Arizona Wildcats, Brown had 10 tackles and then got hurt early in the next game against California. He spent the offseason doing rehab and being forced to watch from the sideline before he could return to action.
It took him a couple days early in fall camp to get back up to speed but, once he did, he has consistently been one of the top players in the corner rotation. Others have gotten a shot including Torin Harris (out with a hamstring), Josh Shaw (currently alternating between safety and corner), and freshman Kevon Seymour. It also stands to reason that Brian Baucham -- who got news on Friday that he is eligible -- could enter into the competition as well.
At the moment, however, the first opportunity is going to go to Brown. He’s been the one working with the first unit for the last several practices and doesn’t show any signs of letting go of the job. It was very disappointing for him to finally earn the job last fall only to quickly get hurt. Now he gets the chance to jump right back into the lineup and you get the sense he feels comfortable in the role.