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USC Sports

USC spring football preview: Receivers remain the same

USC

USC wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster makes a catch in front of UCLA defensive back Nate Meadors on Nov. 28.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Receivers

Coach: Tee Martin

Key Returners: Senior Darreus Rogers, fourth-year junior Steven Mitchell Jr. and juniors JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adoree’ Jackson

Returners: Fifth-year senior Isaac Whitney, senior De’Quan Hampton, third-year sophomore Ajene Harris and sophomore Deontay Burnett

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Newcomers: Freshmen Josh Imatorbhebhe, Michael Pittman

Fall additions: Freshmen Velus Jones Jr., Trevon Sidney and Tyler Vaughns

Outlook: USC returns every receiver from 2015, but that doesn’t mean the position will be without growing pains.

Cody Kessler is out at quarterback after starting for three seasons and the receivers must adjust to whoever wins the job.

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JuJu Smith-Schuster returns for what likely will be his final season as a Trojan. As a sophomore, Smith-Schuster led the team with 89 catches, 1,454 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Darreus Rogers made several highlight-reel plays on his way to 28 catches, three for touchdowns. The senior is likely to retain his starting spot opposite of Smith-Schuster and probably will lobby for a few more passes to come his way.

Fourth-year junior Steven Mitchell Jr. and third-year sophomore Ajene Harris, who was sidelined last season after undergoing hip surgery, will compete in the slot. Missing from the competition will be junior Adoree’ Jackson, who has been given an excused absence by Clay Helton to compete in track and field, where he is an Olympic hopeful in the long jump.

Mitchell caught 37 passes, four for touchdowns, last season.

Fifth-year senior Isaac Whitney, senior De’Quan Hampton and sophomore Deontay Burnett are wildcards in the group.

After transferring from Riverside Community College, Whitney was sidelined for several games because of a broken collarbone. In five games he caught eight passes, two for touchdowns.

Hampton, a transfer from Long Beach City College, played a limited role on offense in 12 games. He caught 15 passes for 165 yards.

With several receivers sidelined against Notre Dame, Burnett received a chance to play on a big stage and made the most of it, catching three passes for 53 yards.

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Two freshmen, Josh Imatorbhebhe and Michael Pittman, started courses in January as midyear enrollees in the 2016 recruiting class. Both are highly-regarded recruits, but breaking into an experienced corps of receivers? It could be tough.

Three more freshmen, Velus Jones Jr., Trevon Sidney and Tyler Vaughns, will join the mix in the fall.

Twitter: @lindseythiry


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