Most every Monday and Wednesday afternoon during the spring semester before spring practice officially starts in mid-March, a number of Trojans gather voluntarily on Howard Jones Field for informal throwing sessions, largely featuring skill position players, linebackers and defensive backs. Occasionally, linemen will show up after a conditioning session and work out on the sidelines while watching their teammates, but it's typically a lot of 7-on-7 and not much else.
Wednesday, Gardena Serra receivers George Farmer and Marqise Lee made an appearance, with Farmer impressing his soon-to-be teammates with a number of impressive plays on passes from Jesse Scroggins and walk-on quarterback John Manoogian. Matched up frequently against defensive backs Patrick Hall and Anthony Brown -- redshirt freshman, both -- Farmer looked more skilled and polished than both of them.
Farmer, Lee and the rest of the incoming freshmen -- early enrollee quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek included -- are not allowed to speak to the media until fall camp, per USC policy, but we caught up with two players who have wholesale changes to make in their games from their first football seasons last fall in sophomore receiver Markeith Ambles and redshirt freshman safety/linebacker Dion Bailey.
Ambles left the team in November after issues with USC coach Lane Kiffin at various points during the season, but he says all is good once again as he continues to take classes and prepare for spring practice, where he will have a sincere opportunity to make his case to start across from Robert Woods at receiver with Kyle Prater out for at least the start of spring practice.
See what Ambles had to say after Wednesday's hour-plus winter workout:
Bailey, one of the nation's highest-rated defensive backs out of Lakewood High in 2010, redshirted as a safety last season despite a solid fall camp performance. Now, the 18-year-old is trying his hand out at the strongside linebacker spot in workouts after USC's coaches approached him about making the switch for the spring.
The terms of the switch are interesting. Bailey, at 6-1 and just 195 pounds, wouldn't be a full-time linebacker, just an intriguing option in the nickel defense and against spread-oriented offenses as a way to bridge the gap between linebacker and defensive back. Bailey would also keep practicing at safety when possible. He sounded pretty excited about the move after Wednesday's workout -- see what he had to say: