With the start of the 2012 USC football season drawing near, we’re doing position-by-position previews of the Trojans’ roster all this week. We began Monday with quarterbacks and continued Tuesday with running backs and Wednesday with receivers and tight ends.
Today, we will profile offensive linemen.
For each position, we’re starting with the current depth chart, going off the end-of-spring depth chart as released by Lane Kiffin, and discussing what needs to be resolved by Sept. 1.
1. Aundrey Walker, sophomore
2. Nathan Guertler, redshirt sophomore
3. Chad Wheeler, freshman
1. Marcus Martin, sophomore
2. Giovanni Di Poalo, redshirt sophomore
3. Max Tuerk, freshman
1. Khaled Holmes, redshirt senior
2. Abe Markowitz, redshirt senior
3. Cyrus Hobbi, redshirt freshman
1. John Martinez, redshirt junior
2. Jeremy Galten, senior
3. Jordan Simmons, freshman
1. Kevin Graf, redshirt junior
2. David Garness, redshirt junior
3. Zach Banner, freshman
An offensive line depth chart is always a funny thing.
The backup at a given position might technically be the No. 2 guy there, like Guertler is at left tackle, but that doesn't mean he'd be the guy to come in if Walker got nicked up and had to miss a series. And the same thing goes for Di Poalo backing up Martin -- it's much more likely that Markowitz would be the short-term replacement than Di Poalo.
But, about the starters, there really isn't going to be much competition going on here. The interior spots are all solidified, and Kiffin and his staff seem pretty set on keeping Walker on the blind site. The only foreseeable changes would be a switch between Walker and Graf if Walker is underperforming, and maybe a move of Markowitz into the left guard slot if Martin is experiencing a sophomore slump.
Walker's offseason weight loss has been remarkable. He weighed around 375 pounds on his official visit to USC in the winter and then proceeded to slowly lose weight over the next year and a half.
In early June, he was 296 -- too light for what the Trojans' coaching staff wanted. So he's tried to gain back some of the weight since.
Even when Walker was a lot heavier last year, you could see the makings of a left tackle in his game. He has a wide body, his feet are quick and he has long arms. It also makes sense to keep Graf at the position he has a year of starting experience at already.
Other things to watch in camp include the development of Banner, the mammoth freshman listed at 6 feet 9 and 335 pounds. He's a redshirt candidate, along with the other three first-year freshmen, but he might have the best chance to play this year of the group.
Simmons' status is unknown, as a knee injury has prevented him from most team workouts since he arrived on campus earlier this summer. Wheeler, still a serious project, is almost a guarantee to redshirt although he enrolled in January.
We tackle defensive linemen tomorrow.