Athlon’s Pre-Season Pac-12 mag, the version I have, has USC LB Cameron Smith, Stanford RB Bryce Love, Arizona QB Khalil Tate and UCLA HC Chip Kelly on the cover. Smith and Love are both named to Athlon’s first-team All-America offensive team while Tate made the third-team. Smith is a major reason why Athlon named USC’s LBs as the fifth-best unit in the country.
“USC’s defense emerged as a big winner at the NFL Draft’s early entry deadline, bringing back Mike linebacker Cameron Smith (6-2, 250, Roseville, Ca.) and Porter Gustin (6-5, 255, Elk Ridge, Utah)…Smith has been in the middle of the defense for the Trojans since he was a freshman in 2015, and his presence is as important as any player.
“‘It’s a big positive for us to have him back,’ said defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. ‘He’s always been very talented. He can diagnose run-pass. He plays the run game really well, tackle to tackle. And he understands formations.'”
Street & Smith’s College Football Pre-Season mag has a big photo of Bryce Love and a smaller picture of Cameron Smith on my cover in the upper right-hand corner. Smith is the only Trojan named to S&S’s first team and no Trojans are named to their second team.
The Pac-12 teams ranked in S&S’s top 25 are Washington (#7), Stanford (#13) and USC (#15). Notre Dame comes in at #14; Texas at #23.
S&S, like Athlon’s, picks USC (10-3, 11-3 over last two years) to win the Pac-12 South and Washington (12-2, 10-3) to win the North, in part because Chris Petersen is named the conference’s best coach. “If Petersen has done anything wrong, it’s setting the bar too high, too soon in Seattle.”
S&S picks Cameron Smith, a senior, as USC’s best pro prospect. “With Sam Darnold gone and JT Daniels yet to prove himself in college, the Trojans’ next big thing in the 2019 draft might be a linebacker who is a menace inside with his combination of size, tackling ability and instincts. He’s often exactly in the right place at the right time.”
Said Clay Helton, “Our defense can carry our team this year.”
RB Stephen Carr is named as one of seven S&S Super Sophs: “Carr totaled 551 yards from scrimmage as a freshman, but his production could be off the charts at USC with a heavier workload.”
S&S’s Hottest Coordinators: Tee Martin is one of five: “Martin has been responsible for some big offensive performances in Troy and is known as an outstanding recruiter, two resume items that should be quite attractive to athletic directors.”