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Kevon Seymour sees chance to lead at USC in role in secondary

Kevon Seymour sees chance to lead at USC in role in secondary
USC defensive back Kevon Seymour breaks up a pass intended for Arizona Statewide receiver Gary Chambers during a game on Oct. 4, 2014. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Kevon Seymour could not be happier.

Last season, the USC cornerback was sidelined for the start of training camp while recovering from a stomach ailment that forced him to be hospitalized.

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So the senior has been thrilled to be on the field from the outset, leading the secondary as the Trojans prepare for their Sept. 5 opener against Arkansas State.

"I'm on top of everything right away," he said Monday after the Trojans' first practice in shoulder pads.

Seymour has started 22 games and intercepted two passes since arriving from Pasadena Muir High in 2012.

He was the defensive player of the game in the Trojans' Las Vegas Bowl victory over Fresno State in 2013, but struggled at times last season, most notably late in the game against Arizona State.

Seymour was among USC's most improved players during spring practice, demonstrating a noticeable aggressiveness. He has continued to play that way through three workouts.

"He's playing with more of an edge," Coach Steve Sarkisian said.

Early in his career, Seymour leaned on veteran cornerbacks such as Nickell Robey and Josh Shaw.

Now he is the elder.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Seymour is the most experienced player in a cornerback group that includes sophomores Adoree' Jackson and Jonathan Lockett and freshmen Iman Marshall and Isaiah Langley.

"I still feel like a big kid," Seymour said, "but at the same time I can see myself being a leader to these young guys."

During downtime after practices, he said, Seymour watches film with the freshmen.

"I tell our young corners, 'Grab your notes. Let's go over them. ... If you have a problem, shoot it at me,'" he said.

Seymour is intent on breaking up or intercepting more passes in his final season.

"Just be a ballhawk," he said. "Let everybody know I have ball skills."

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Marshall steps up

Before training camp, Sarkisian said he was eager to see Marshall match up against elite receivers such as Juju Smith-Schuster.

Marshall, 6-2 and 200 pounds, took advantage of the opportunity Monday to be more physical in shoulder pads. Sarkisian described Marshall's effort as "his best day so far."

"Putting the pads on is more suited to his game," Sarkisian said, adding, "He can kind of play a little bit more of his style."

Quick hits

Fullback Soma Vainuku and tailback Tre Madden each caught touchdown passes during a scrimmage drill. ... Sarkisian said it was a "typical Day 3," with signs of fatigue. "I know mentally our guys are a little swamped and physically they're a little fatigued, but it's training camp. This is what it's for. You fight through it." ... With guard Viane Talamaivao sidelined because of a hamstring issue, Toa Lobendahn worked at guard and Chad Wheeler at left tackle. ... Tailback Justin Davis was held out again because of a hamstring strain. Defensive lineman Noah Jefferson suffered a hyperextended elbow, Sarkisian said. Tailback Dominic Davis was held out of the latter part of the workout after landing on his back while attempting to make an end-zone catch. ... Sarkisian said Frank Gifford, a 1951 All-American for USC who died Sunday at 84, was "the ultimate three-way player. ... We lost a great Trojan." … Tuesday and Wednesday practices, originally scheduled for 7 p.m., will instead begin at 5:30.

gary.klein@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesklein

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