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USC spring preview: Specialists

USC begins spring practice Tuesday. We’ll preview each position group before workouts begin.

Specialists

Key departure: Andre Heidari

Departure: Peter McBride

Key returning players: Fifth-year senior Kris Albarado, fifth-year junior Conner Sullivan and junior Zach Smith

Returning players: Junior Alex Wood and third-year sophomore Matt Boermeester

Outlook: USC must replace Heidari, the starting kicker the last four seasons.

Wood has attempted and made 20 extra points.

Boermeester redshirted last season after he transferred to USC from Saddleback College, where he made 11 of 13 field-goal attempts, one from 43 yards.

Albarado is preparing for his third season as the punter. Last season, he averaged 41.4 yards per punt.

Smith returns as the snapper, Sullivan the holder.

Questions about USC? Email me at LNThiry@gmail.com or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will respond to select messages in a weekly USC Now mailbag.

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USC spring preview: Tight ends and fullbacks

USC begins spring practice on Tuesday. We’ll preview each position group before workouts begin.

Tight ends

Departure: Randall Telfer

Key returning players: Sophomore Bryce Dixon and junior Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick.

Outlook: Dixon and Cope-Fitzpatrick are the only scholarship tight ends on the roster.

Dixon caught 14 passes last season, four for touchdowns.

Cope-Fitzpatrick was academically ineligible last season. He is “working to regain his status,” according to the USC Spring Football Prospectus.

Cope-Fitzpatrick has three receptions in two seasons.

Fullbacks

Returning players: Fifth-year senior Soma Vainuku and senior Jahleel Pinner

Outlook: Vainuku and Pinner had limited roles on offense last season, but both played on special teams.

Vainuku rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown in seven carries. He made six tackles.

Pinner rushed for six yards in two carries. He made two tackles.

Questions about USC? Email me at LNThiry@gmail.com or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will respond to select...

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USC football morning report

Quote of the day: "We realize what people's expectations are for the program and we're not going to shy away from them, we're going to embrace them."

     -- USC Coach Steve Sarkisian, on the 2015 Trojans

In The Times:

Questions about USC? Email me at LNThiry@gmail.com or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will respond to select messages in a weekly USC Now mailbag. 

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USC Now mailbag: Sarkisian's recruiting philosophy and season prediction

Coaches like Chip Kelly, Todd Graham and Chris Petersen seem to be willing to bring in a certain type of player, which Petersen calls "Our kind of guy.” Do you think USC would ever bring in a coach that has this kind of philosophy?

-- Peter

Each coach has a recruiting philosophy, including USC’s Steve Sarkisian. He does not say he is looking for “our kind of guy” as Petersen does, but he often repeats phrases when describing the kinds of players he recruits.

Sarkisian said on signing day that he recruited “taller, longer and rangier” players.

He also said California players are a priority and that he recruited out-of-state players who he thought could be future first-round NFL draft picks.

I saw your story on how so-called experts have USC forecasted to go to the College Football Playoff next year. I think that is comical. These people don't realize that Steve Sarkisian will screw that all up. You can't go to the College Football Playoff when you get out-coached in nearly every game.

...

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USC spring preview: Defensive line

USC begins spring practice Tuesday. We’ll preview each position group before workouts begin.

Defensive line

Key departures: Leonard Williams

Key returner players: Fifth-year seniors Antwaun Woods, Claude Pelon and Delvon Simmons

Returning players: Fifth-year seniors Greg Townsend Jr. and Cody Temple, third-year sophomore Kenny Bigelow and redshirt freshmen Malik Dorton and Don Hill.

Outlook: The Trojans must find a way to replace the production of Williams, who made 80 tackles, including seven sacks.

Woods is sidelined for spring practice because of a torn chest muscle he suffered before the Holiday Bowl.

Simmons started 10 games at tackle and made two-and-a-half tackles for losses, including a sack.

Pelon made six tackles for losses last season, including 2 1/2 sacks.

Temple has been slowed or sidelined for much of his career because of injuries. He made three tackles for losses last season.

Townsend played in nine games, but could be slowed during spring practice because of a foot...

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USC football morning report

Fact of the day: Fifth-year senior Cody Kessler, senior Max Tuerk, junior Su'a Cravens and sophomores Adoree' Jackson and JuJu Smith are featured on the cover of the USC Spring Football Prospectus.

In The Times:

Questions about USC? Email me at LNThiry@gmail.com or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will respond to select messages in a weekly USC Now mailbag.

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