Clay Helton promised competition. For weeks, leading up to Saturday’s season debut against Fresno State, he harped that no positions on the Trojans’ depth chart were guaranteed.
On Friday, as that official depth chart was released, a few notable surprises made clear just how serious the USC coach was about competing until the bitter end of the preseason.
After weeks of working with the same first-team offensive line, the season’s first depth chart contained a shake-up on the right side. Drue Richmond, a grad transfer from Tennessee, will start at right tackle over Jalen McKenzie, who will kick inside to right guard, displacing Andrew Vorhees.
Vorhees had been one of just two returning starters on the Trojans offensive line, along with left tackle Austin Jackson.
At cornerback, by far USC’s most uncertain position, sophomore Olaijah Griffin was handed a starting spot, while redshirt freshman Isaac Taylor-Stuart and five-star freshman Chris Steele remain listed as co-starters. Helton said this week that he still expects a rotation at the position through at least this week
“We’ll have some growing pains in the back end,” Helton reiterated on Thursday.
Elsewhere, there were few surprises on USC’s initial depth chart. At running back, where USC has used an equal rotation, Vavae Malepeai and Stephen Carr are listed as co-starters. At tight end, Erik Krommenhoek will start over Josh Falo, after both split work with the first-team offense through camp.