After USC's 2012 spring game had concluded, at the end of his post-scrimmage meeting with reporters, coach Lane Kiffin was asked about his star receiver Robert Woods, who sat out the entire spring while recovering from an ankle injury originally suffered a year ago.
Would Woods, Kiffin was asked, be ready to go by fall? After all, he was supposed to be fully healed in February after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on the ankle in December. Missing the entire spring wasn't even an option until midway through it.
"That's what we believe," Kiffin said.
USC is hoping -- or believing -- a lot of its other players will be ready for the 2012 season, too. Truthfully, the Trojans need most of them back for depth reasons.
"We couldn't have something like what has happened this offseason to us in the fall," Kiffin said after the spring game. "We wouldn't be very good. So we need to make sure we keep our guys healthy."
Here's an overview of who's been out and when they are expected back, going position-by-position:
- At quarterback, Jesse Scroggins was bothered by a hip injury for much of spring but felt good enough to return in the spring game for a series. He'll be ready for the fall -- the question with him is his academic eligibility.
- Running back Buck Allen was similarly sidelined by a hamstring injury for a solid 10 practices in the middle of spring, but his recovery process sped up when Tre Madden went down with a torn knee. He's also expected to be fully ready. On the topic of Madden, the sophomore has not yet undergone surgery on the knee but should soon, according to a school spokesperson. Luckily, he has a redshirt year still available, meaning he'll be only a redshirt sophomore in 2013.
- George Farmer was the other receiver -- aside from Woods -- who missed most of spring practice, and it really held back his progress. The sophomore was believed to have a natural lead for the third-receiver slot entering the spring, but most of that has evaporated by now. Another nagging injury in the fall and his college career could be seriously derailed.
- At tight end, Christian Thomas underwent surgery on his ailing hip after missing the spring and is expected to be ready for the fall. Xavier Grimble returned late in the spring after being bothered by turf toe for the first month, and Randall Telfer also missed a significant portion of it because of a pulled hamstring. There were fears that Junior Pomee had re-injured the foot he broke last season, but he ended up alright. If all goes as planned, USC will have five healthy tight ends in the fall after going some of this spring without a single one.
- The offensive line was largely injury-free in the spring. Only center Khaled Holmes (calf) was bothered by a notable injury, and he made a full recovery.
- On the defensive line, redshirt freshman Cody Temple underwent ankle surgery midway through the spring and is expected back for fall camp. Fellow redshirt freshman tackle Christian Heyward had offseason shoulder surgery and missed the spring but is similarly expected back by August. DeVante Wilson missed all spring while continuing to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last summer that forced him to greyshirt last season. His status is unclear.
- At linebacker, starting strongsider Dion Bailey dealt with hamstring and tooth injuries during the spring but is in fine shape for the fall. The concern is with two backups, Marquis Simmons and Dallas Kelley, who missed the final few practices -- including the spring game -- with unspecified injuries. USC has significant depth at linebacker, though, so neither player even cracked the two-deep depth chart.
- Cornerback Torin Harris presents one of the more interesting injury situations. The coaches deemed him starter-caliber when he was healthy last season, and even though he missed all of the spring while recovering from shoulder surgery, he was still listed as a cornerback co-starter on the end-of-spring depth chart. He has had nerve issues with the shoulder, so his return isn't a guarantee.
- At safety, Josh Shaw's back and rib issues were the reason he didn't practice this spring, not his pending NCAA eligibility. Now that he has been cleared for 2012 competition, his health becomes an even bigger issue. If he's able to get on the field sometime in the summer, his chances to start or seriously contribute in the fall will be multiplied.
- The special-teams specialists were injury-free.