Su'a Cravens will be among the interested observers Wednesday when former
Cravens is preparing for his third season as a Trojans starter — his second at linebacker — and he is regarded as perhaps the most likely USC player to declare for the 2016 draft after his junior season.
Cravens said Saturday he would monitor safety Gerald Bowman and linebacker Hayes Pullard as scouts put them through drills. He also wants to see receiver George Farmer run the 40-yard dash.
"That's what I'm most excited about," Cravens said.
Cravens was regarded as an NFL prospect when he arrived at USC from Vista Murrieta High in the spring of 2013.
He was a Freshman All-American safety, but Coach
Cravens intercepted three passes — one he returned for a touchdown — and recorded a team-best 17 tackles for losses, including five sacks. He was selected all-Pac-12 Conference and will be regarded as an All-American candidate going into the 2015 season.
As USC completed its first week of spring practice, Cravens said the Trojans' defense was playing faster than last season.
"This is our first year to actually have the same playbook two years in a row," he said, "so everybody is clicking."
Cravens, who is 6 feet 1, said he recently lost 10 pounds because of an illness, dropping to 211 pounds.
Cravens began last season at 235 pounds and finished at about 220. He said he planned to play this season at about 220 pounds.
Coaches, he said, have simplified his responsibilities, gearing them away from pass coverage and toward run support.
The continued absence of tight end Bryce Dixon leaves Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick as the only scholarship tight end participating in spring practice.
Sarkisian has said Dixon is facing a student-conduct issue, and he provided no update on Dixon's status Saturday.
Cope-Fitzpatrick, who caught two passes as a freshman in 2012 and one in 2013, did not play last season because he was academically ineligible.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Cope-Fitzpatrick had not practiced since last October. He said "it's been a pretty smooth transition," but he was "still chipping off the rust."
Cope-Fitzpatrick's status for the fall will not be determined until the end of the spring semester.
"I think for Jalen, it's taken a little bit of time to get back in the flow of things — get back in the flow of the game," Sarkisian said, adding, "Jalen's been OK for three practices. Hopefully, we can get him to improve the next week."
Defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow redshirted in 2013 and was sidelined last season while recovering from knee surgery.
Bigelow will be limited throughout the spring but said he was on track to be ready for training camp in August.
"I call myself a healthy 80%," he said. "I'm limited in some things I can do, but what I can do, I feel great about."
Cornerback Adoree' Jackson was absent from practice because he was attending a funeral, Sarkisian said…. The Trojans resume practice Tuesday and could play in full pads for the first time in the first of five scheduled workouts at the Coliseum. The practice is closed to the public.