USC season preview: Cornerbacks and safeties

Gary Klein and Lindsey Thiry preview USC’s secondary for the 2015 season.


Free safety

Starter: Junior Leon McQuay III

Backups: Freshmen Marvell Tell III and Ykili Ross

Strong safety

Starter: Third-year sophomore Chris Hawkins

Backups: Sophomore John Plattenburg or third-year sophomore Matt Lopes



Starter: Senior Kevon Seymour

Backups: Freshman Iman Marshall and third-year sophomore Kevin Carrasco


Starter: Sophomore Adoree’ Jackson

Backups: Sophomore Jonathan Lockett and freshman Isaiah Langley

Who is gone: Josh Shaw, Gerald Bowman, Devian Shelton and Lamont Simmons

Who is new: Freshmen Iman Marshall, Isaiah Langley, Marvell Tell III and Ykili Ross

Outlook: Jackson, listed at 5-feet-11 and 185 pounds, is the most exciting player on the roster. He will play on offense, defense and special teams.

When Jackson is at cornerback, the defense is noticeably better. Last season he deflected 10 passes, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.

Seymour, 6 feet and 185 pounds, will start for a third season. He was among the most improved players during spring practice and played with a newfound aggression. Seymour was slowed to start training camp because of a knee injury.

Marshall was one of the most recruited players in the country from Long Beach Poly High and will make an immediate impact. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound cornerback was one of the most physical players through training camp.

McQuay, 6-feet-1 and 190 pounds, was inconsistent during the 2014 season but played to his potential and helped secure a victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.


He started nine games last season, intercepted two passes and deflected four.

Hawkins made a part-time move from cornerback to safety during bowl practices and the move became permanent during spring ball.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Hawkins deflected two passes and made an interception last season.

Tell, a highly touted recruit from Encino Crespi High, challenged Hawkins and McQuay for a starting position in training camp. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Tell will contribute in the secondary.

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