Signing day aftermath

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
3:53
PM PT
National signing day is over, USC having bagged 22 signees to go along with eight early enrollees to bring the roster's current total to a respectable 80 scholarship players. Of the 30, here are the five most likely to make an immediate impact with the Trojans in 2011, including one guy each at USC's two biggest need positions, linebacker and the offensive line:

1. Receiver George Farmer (Gardena, Calif./Serra)

Farmer will be given a legitimate chance to start across from his former high school teammate, Robert Woods, at receiver come the season opener. His main competition will probably come in the form of redshirt freshman Kyle Prater, who was expected to challenge to start for the spot Woods eventually took last season but succumbed to injuries and sat out the season.

Farmer, as coach Lane Kiffin said Wedensday night, is everything you want in a freshman receiver: speedy, well-sized and smart, with good hands too. the only downside is that he'll be coming in with the rest of the freshmen in June and not in January like the early enrollees.

But Woods beat those same odds last season. Farmer will have the spotlight on him in fall camp this August.

2. Punter Kris Albarado (Lake Charles, La./St. Louis)

Albarado, simply put, should be the starting punter next season. Jacob Harfman, the punter for most of the last two seasons, will graduate this spring. Albarado's only competition is two walk-on seniors, Boomer Roepke and Kyle Negrete.

Special teams coach John Baxter said in USC's official announcement for Albarado that he already has all the fundamentals in place to be a great directional punter. That's all Albarado will be asked to do as a true freshman.

3. Kicker Andre Heidari (Bakersfield, Calif./Stockdale)

The same goes for Heidari. Joe Houston's gone, so the only incumbent kicker is walk-on Craig McMahon.

McMahon actually looked pretty solid in practices last season -- his leg looked fairly comparable to Houston's -- but Heidari will obviously be given the first shot at the job. A Chris Sailer disciple, he has a booming kicking leg and reportedly kicked a number of 50-plus yarders in high school in Bakersfield.

The long kicking game has been missing from USC's offensive arsenal since David Buehler left after the 2008 season, with Jordan Congdon and Houston both more of the inside-40 types. Heidari could change that, especially with an extra semester under Baxter's tutelage this spring.

4. Offensive lineman Aundrey Walker (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville)

Walker told Cleveland reporters Wednesday that the USC coaching staff is looking at him as a potential starting right tackle this season.

That makes a lot of sense.

Walker is an absolute behemoth, measuring in at 6 feet 5 and at least 355 pounds. (Some services have him at 375.) That type of player -- a raw, mammoth blocker -- makes a lot of sense as a right tackle right away and potential left tackle down the line.

The Trojans have a big hole at right tackle this year and then a big hole either after 2011 or 2012 when Matt Kalil leaves to the NFL. Walker could be a good fit at that spot. He could also move inside to a guard spot, where USC also has an immediate need or two.

5. Linebacker Lamar Dawson (Danville, Ken./Boyle County)

Dawson is the most athletically developed of the four linebackers in this year's class, which includes Dallas Kelley, Tre Madden and Anthony Sarao.

He's also smart, boasting a 3.8 high school GPA. USC linebackers coach Joe Barry values that trait in a linebacker quite a bit, so Dawson will be given an opportunity to play right away for the Trojans, who are losing outside linebackers Michael Morgan and Malcolm Smith.

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C. Kessler233162188418
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