Entering spring practice, there wasn’t a bigger question mark in the USC defense than at the cornerback spot, where the Trojans lost both of their primary starters from the 2012 season -– Nickell Robey to the NFL, and Josh Shaw to strong safety.
But with two workouts now under their belts playing under new USC defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Clancy Pendergast, the open battle for the two starting positions has led to a spirited atmosphere marked by more-than-solid play at times, particularly from Kevon Seymour and Anthony Brown – who found themselves running with the first-team defense on both Tuesday and Thursday.
“We’re all competing out here,” Seymour said. “We’re all great athletes and we can all play. We have a lot of work to do, but we’re gaining confidence.”
It’s Seymour, in fact, who put in arguably the two top back-to-back performances of the week, highlighted by a couple of impressive pass deflections during the 7-on-7 and team session on day one.
Nothing is set in stone, however, as there are plenty of other players still in the mix. On the left side behind Seymour, it’s been early-entrant freshmen Chris Hawkins and Leon McQuay III who have received the most reps with the second unit. Two players whose arrival on campus was heavily anticipated, Hawkins, in particular, has shown flashes of standout play, while McQuay certainly has the raw talent, but is still adjusting to a new position after coming in as a safety.
Lining up behind Brown at right cornerback has been Devian Shelton, Torin Harris and Ryan Henderson. At 6-foot-2, Shelton has provided the Trojans with unique size at the position, while Harris has given the defense a veteran presence, and he hasn’t been shy about helping the younger cornerbacks along.
In either case, it’s safe to say that this is a competition that’s still far from over.
“It’s going to be about who puts in the extra work in the film room and who’s going to be in their playbook every night,” Seymour said. “That’s what it’s going to take."