USC spring football preview: New starters on the defensive line

USC spring football preview: New starters on the defensive line
Oluwole Betiku during practice atGardena Serra. (Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

USC is scheduled to begin spring practice on Tuesday.

Coach: Kenechi Udeze.


Key departures: Antwaun Woods, Delvon Simmons, Claude Pelon, Greg Townsend Jr. and Cody Temple.

Returners: Fifth-year senior Jordan Simmons, fourth-year junior Kenny Bigelow, third-year sophomore Malik Dorton, sophomores Jacob Daniel, Noah Jefferson and Rasheem Green, redshirt freshman Christian Rector and Kevin Scott.

Newcomers: Freshmen Oluwole Betiku and Liam Jimmons.

Joining in the fall: Junior Josh Fatu and freshman Connor Murphy.

Outlook: The defensive line must start from scratch this spring under new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast and first-year assistant  Udeze.

There are no returning starters and Pendergast, who held the same post with the Trojans in 2013, will making changes to the defensive scheme.

Green and Jefferson contributed immediately, playing in all 14 games as freshmen last season.

Green had one sack and recovered a fumble and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown. Jefferson made 23 tackles.

Both will be expected to take over starting roles.

Bigelow had three sacks in 13 games. He too will compete for a starting spot.

Dorton played in only two games last season, while then-freshman Daniel played in three.

Coaches must develop  Rector and Scott for added depth, and freshmen  Betiku and Jimmons, who have enrolled in spring-semester courses as part of the 2016 recruiting class, also must develop quickly.

Simmons moved from offensive to defensive line last season, but was slowed and sidelined because of nagging injuries.

Long Beach City College transfer Fatu and freshman Murphy will join the team in the fall.


Spring previews: