Six Young USC Football Bright Spots

USC’s 6 freshmen who are providing reason for optimism moving forward

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  LOS ANGELES — In the midst of a lost season for USC football, there are still reasons for optimism about the future of the program. Namely, the freshmen who have started to show signs of potential through the first half of the 2021 season. Here’s a look at six freshmen to watch the rest of the schedule with an eye toward 2022.

1. S Calen Bullock (27) When safety Isaiah Pola-Mao missed the season opener after testing positive for COVID-19, USC bypassed the more experienced options on the roster to let Bullock start. The true freshman showed why, leading the team with eight tackles. In his limited role since then, Bullock has made just 12 tackles in five games, but he should receive more opportunities later in the season.

2. QB Jaxson Dart (2)

Due to his meniscus injury, Dart has only played in one game this season, but it was a tantalizing debut for USC: 30-for-46 passing for 391 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions in leading the Trojans to a come-from-behind victory over Washington State. When he’s back fully healthy, Dart could get more playing time to show off his dual-threat ability and daring approach to playing quarterback.

3. DE Korey Foreman (0)

Foreman’s play hasn’t lived up to the hype of his status as a five-star recruit, as he has frequently seemed lost out on the field. But he broke through with his first career sack against Utah last weekend and could be ready to take the next step in his growth after enrolling after spring camp this year.

“They use me when they need to use me and we take it right there. I do the best I can,” Foreman said. “If I bust my (butt) every single rep or every single practice or every single day, every single time in the weight room, all I’m waiting for is for them to call my number and when they call my number the rest of is history.”

4. OL Jonah Monheim (79)

A redshirt freshman who is young for a second-year player, Monheim has started all six games at right tackle this season. While there have been some growing pains, especially in pass blocking, Monheim has given reason to believe that he can be a stalwart in the USC front five for years to come.

“He may be the best run blocker on the offensive line,” offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said.

5. S Jaylin Smith (19) It’s been a rough year for the USC secondary as a whole, but Smith has been steady in his limited opportunities. He got a sack against Washington State and an interception against Oregon State and has been reliable in pass coverage.

Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said Smith and linebacker Raesjon Davis are two of the young players he wants to see in Thursday’s underclassmen scrimmage earn more playing time, saying, “If they’re deserving to play, over the other guys, they’re going to play.”

6. TE Michael Trigg (8)

The 6-foot-4, 245-pound freshman flashed his raw athleticism and strength during fall training camp, but the general consensus was he needed a better understanding of the playbook to make an impact this season. Against Colorado, he showed he was getting ready for that role, with two catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.


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Noble Genius
October 14, 2021 7:24 am

It’s been a long time, but I remember when true freshmen didn’t play. They were always behind someone better, but somewhere along the line it became “Play me or trade me.” Now with the portal it has become get them in or lose them. One thing this article is pointing to, without saying it boldly, is the recruiting power of Donte Williams. .Recruiting cannot be under estimated. Now we need to get the priorities in line with the needs for the team. We have the backfield for the future, so go after protection. We have so many needs Donte could… Read more »

October 14, 2021 7:34 am
Reply to  RialtoTrojan

I remember too when Freshman could not play. Pat Haden was the QB for one of SC’s last Freshman football teams. I think it was around 1971 because he was a Sophomore on the 1972 undefeated National Championship team. He backed up Mike Rae that year.

October 21, 2021 4:21 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I agree with you that Mike Rae was one of SC’s most underrated QBs. I remember Mike kicking extra points and field goals and Anthony Davis handling the kickoff duties. I’d also say my classmates Rob Hertl and Vince Evans were underrated too. Rob was also an outstanding Third Baseman for Coach Rod Dedeaux’s Baseball Team. I’ll never forget the team with Fred Lynn in Center, Anthony Davis in Right and Steve Kemp in left. Several football players played baseball as well. Marvin Cobb played Second Base, Anthony Munoz was a Pitcher and Jack Del Rio was a Catcher just… Read more »