Roundtable: Picking 2013 captains

Leadership will be important for the 2013 Trojans. Give your prediction on who the four team captains will be next fall.

Garry Paskwietz

1. WR Marqise Lee: A leader of this team based on the sheer force of his talent, Lee will be more than ready to accept that responsibility. One thing to watch is how he handles it. Lee is an emotional player, and he’s always be surrounded by steady veterans such as Robert Woods and Matt Barkley. In 2013, Lee will be the one setting the tone, and it will be the first time he’s been placed in such a high-profile leadership role.

2. OL Kevin Graf: A guy who bleeds cardinal and gold, will be a three-year starter on the offensive line and is one of the hardest workers on the team. Graf was named co-Lifter of the Year in 2012 and that’s the kind of award that means something in a locker room. To be named a captain would also mean a great deal to Graf, who was raised to be a USC offensive lineman as the third member of his family to play in the trenches for the Trojans.

3. CB Nickell Robey: This is based, of course, on Robey coming back for his senior year. His impact would be felt in the leadership department as much as it would on the field, and that’s saying a lot because he would certainly be a veteran presence in the secondary as a fourth-year starter. His experience as a captain in 2012 would also help him take some of the pressure off Lee, as Robey would be the ideal counterpart in a dual-leadership role.

4. LB Hayes Pullard: It was telling to see Pullard lined up in the middle for the Sun Bowl, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him at that spot in 2013. Hayes also became more outspoken this past year and that kind of combination -- a vocal middle linebacker -- is hard to beat when it comes to defensive leadership. You could also make a strong case for Dion Bailey to get consideration for a captain’s spot.

Greg Katz

1. OL Kevin Graf: It may mean more to Graf being a Trojan than others. His father, Allan, was a starting guard on the 1972 national champions, and his brother Derek was an offensive line force as a senior in the 2003 Orange Bowl victory over Iowa. After the Hyundai Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech, Graf was insistent that his Trojans would return to glory in 2013.

2. WR Marqise Lee: Aside from the fact he is the best receiver in college football and a lead Heisman Trophy candidate in 2013, his growth as a person can’t be overlooked. He always has a smile on his face, but don’t let that fool you into thinking he isn’t about winning. He has repeatedly said individual honors mean nothing compared to winning games. He is ready to assume a leadership role and his team-first attitude can be a tremendous influence on younger teammates.

3. CB Nickell Robey: Assuming he returns for his senior season, Robey is mature and team oriented. He has endured a lot in his personal life, which has led to a very adult attitude. He is already an All-Pac-12 player and he’s extroverted, which relates well to being a team leader. His accomplishments in three seasons have brought a wealth of experience, and when he talks, teammates listen. He is the one who has led his Trojans teammates out onto the field. Yeah, he’s the fireplug wearing No. 21.

4. LB Dion Bailey: When you talk about sacrificing for the team, you have to start with Bailey. Originally a safety, he took his undersized body and played big when converted to strongside linebacker. He is smart, aggressive and mature, and isn’t afraid to let his feelings be known. Honorable mention All-Pac-12 in 2012, it would be surprising if he didn’t elevate to higher recognition, although it may be as a safety if he gets his wish to return to his natural position for his senior season. His passion for the game and his team-oriented personality would be a natural in a leadership role for the 2013 Trojans.

Johnny Curren

1. WR Marqise Lee: The Trojans’ first Biletnikoff Award winner and the 2012 team MVP, Lee is a natural choice as a captain in 2013. But what makes this selection particularly easy to make is the fact that the Gardena (Calif.) Serra product practices just as hard as he plays.

2. TB Silas Redd: Redd made the tough decision to transfer from Penn State to USC last August, and since his arrival on campus he has been nothing but a model player, earning the respect of his teammates with remarkable ease. With the graduation of quarterback Matt Barkley and tailback Curtis McNeal, he figures to play a crucial role in 2013 as the Trojans’ most reliable contributor in the offensive backfield.

3. CB Nickell Robey: Assuming he decides to stay at USC for his senior year, Robey is an obvious choice to be a captain in 2013 -- a role he also served on this past season’s team. A tremendous leader in every sense of the word, he sets an example for his teammates not just with his play but also with how he carries himself off the field.

4. DE Morgan Breslin: Sure, he doesn’t talk much, and he’s certainly not what you’d ever call a vocal leader. But it’s the relentless passion and energy he puts into his play that commands the attention of everyone around him, making him a more-than-solid choice as a captain.