USC spring preview: Linebackers

USC spring preview: Linebackers
USC linebacker Jabari Ruffin tries to bring down Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham during the Trojans' win on Aug. 29, 2013. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

USC begins spring practice March 3. We'll preview each position group before workouts begin.



Key departures: Hayes Pullard and J.R. Tavai

Key returning players: Fifth-year senior Anthony Sarao, fourth-year junior Scott Felix and junior Su'a Cravens

Returning players: Fifth-year senior Lamar Dawson, fourth-year junior Jabari Ruffin, juniors Quinton Powell and Michael Hutchings and sophomore Olajuwon Tucker.

Newcomer: Freshman Cameron Smith

Outlook: At inside linebacker, the Trojans must fill the hole left by Pullard, a four-year starter who led the team in tackles the last two seasons.

Sarao is preparing for his third season as a starter.

Hutchings and Tucker played defense sparingly.

Dawson has not played since Oct. 2013, when he suffered a knee injury.

Smith, 6 feet 2 and 248 pounds, is expected to compete immediately.

Cravens, a freshman All-American safety, moved to outside linebacker after two games. He made a team-best 17 tackles for losses.

Felix played in 13 games and started four times when Tavai was sidelined because of injury. He made five tackles for losses and forced a fumble.

Powell played in 13 games, mostly on special teams.

Ruffin was sidelined in 2014 after he underwent surgery to repair a knee injury suffered during fall camp.

Nwosu is not enrolled for the spring semester. A USC spokesperson said, "We look forward to him rejoining the team this summer."


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