USC: Kevin Ellison

Pro Day notes, quotes and video

March, 7, 2012

Here are notes and quotes from USC's annual Pro Day event held on campus Wednesday that didn't fit into the rest of our coverage from the day:
  • The stars of the day were left tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry, by far. Both players dominated the only thing in which they participated -- position-specific drills. Perry's agility showed up in his drills, when he looked twice as fast as the other defensive linemen in changing directions in small areas. Kalil went one-on-one against Rhett Ellison and Martin Coleman in line/tight end drills and consistently controlled each situation.
  • Ellison looked good in pass-catching drills, far more fluid than he did last season. With a respectable time of 4.83 in the 40 and height/weight of 6 feet 5 and 250 pounds, Ellison might be drafted higher than initially projected. Worst-case scenario, he could probably be a usable special-teamer in the NFL. And he has the bloodlines and work ethic to give him the benefit of the doubt.
  • Christian Tupou again didn't test well, running 5.50 and 5.40 in the 40-yard dash and struggling some in the defensive-line drills. He's really not a workout-type player and this setting hurts his stock. Running back Marc Tyler said scouts had him in between a 4.64 and 4.70 40, but his official time was in the 4.8-range. He joked that he wasn't going to be running for any 70-yard touchdowns regardless, unless the defender chasing him slipped.
  • The fastest 40-yard dash time from a 2011 Trojan was Brandon Carswell's 4.56. Former USC defensive back Cary Harris ran the overall fastest time with a 4.53. The slowest went to Coleman who was timed at 5.95 and 6.03 (gulp). Of the prospects with a legitimate hope of being drafted, Carswell's time helped him the most.
  • A general theme from those who went to the NFL combine: It's a little bit scary. Tyler said the time change messed him up and an injured hamstring contributed to his poor running in the 40-yard dash. Linebacker Chris Galippo said he was happy with his performance, not only on the field but in the interview room, where he said he hoped he showed teams he was a "fast-twitch brain" kind of player.
  • Among the walk-ons who worked out for USC were tackle Peter Yobo and cornerbacks Boomer Roepke, James Harbin and Allen Noble. Former players included Cary Harris, safety Kevin Ellison, linebacker Nick Garratt and defensive back Josh Pinkard. 2011 Trojans who worked out but aren't expected to be drafted included linebacker Shane Horton, safety Marshall Jones and long-snapper Chris Pousson.

Second safety spot the most scrambled

August, 18, 2011
There are quite a few position battles in USC's fall camp this year, including at offensive guard, at receiver, at corner and even at tight end, now, with Rhett Ellison spending most of his time playing fullback.

But arguably the most interesting battle of the fall is at strong safety, where the Trojans have four legitimate competitors for only one spot in Demetrius Wright, Drew McAllister, Jawanza Starling and Marshall Jones.

And the most interesting thing about it? All the players are at different levels of their career and all are different types of players.

And it's hard to separate them.

"It's hard to tell with us," McAllister said Thursday, when asked how this competition compares with past ones he has been a part of. "It's a little bit different than before with older guys like Taylor [Mays] and Kevin [Ellison]. Those guys were older than I was and then when Kevin went down I got to play a little bit.

"Now it's different because we have a bunch of guys who are right around the same age, but I think it's good because we all get to compete against each other in practice, day in and day out. That kind of makes everybody better."

McAllister's point about guys being around the same age isn't exactly correct -- Jones, currently out because of a knee injury, is in his fifth year at USC, McAllister in his fourth, Starling in his third and Wright in his second. But it still stands, because it is a lot different than it was before when Mays and Ellison were Trojans.

(Read full post)

Questions for camp, No. 7: 2nd safety?

July, 29, 2011
Only six days remain until fall camp begins for the Trojans on Aug. 4. We've been previewing the biggest questions that USC hopes to answer in the monthlong period between camp and the season opener in a series since last week. Read the first six questions-and-answers here.

The seventh is this: with T.J. McDonald entrenched at free safety in his second year starting for the Trojans, who will emerge to start across from him?

It's the most open position on the field for the Trojans: strong safety.

Any one of four players -- Marshall Jones, Jawanza Starling, Drew McAllister and Demetrius Wright -- could win the job. Jones was the early favorite after spring practice, earning placement above the other three on the end-of-spring depth chart, but that positioning was reworked in the depth chart released earlier this month by the Trojans. It's interesting, really -- at the end of spring, Starling and McAllister were listed at free safety, backing up McDonald, and Wright was Jones' only backup at strong safety.

They're all equal now. Jones is the senior with the most experience, Starling the junior with a combination of experience and smarts, McAllister the injury-prone play-maker and Wright the fresh-faced sophomore who might have had the best spring of them all.

To lay out the recent history at the safety position for USC, Taylor Mays held down free safety for four straight years, between 2006-2009. Kevin Ellison started across from him at strong safety from 2006-2008 and then gave way to Will Harris in 20009. Ellison and Harris were both physical types, more of enforcers than playmakers, and, except for his final years, Mays was counted on to be the playmaker.

Remember, then, that in Monte Kiffin's defense, the safeties' roles are switched. So what Mays did as free safety is now the strong safety's job, what Ellison, Harris and, going back further, Troy Polamalu, did at strong safety is now the free safety's job.

What does that all tell you? Nothing for certain, but it does support a couple potential theories. The first is that McAllister, while the clear dark horse as a player who hasn't been fully healthy in almost two years, would make some sense as a counterpart to McDonald, simply because of his ability to corral the football. The second, contradicting the first, is that there is no clear pattern to what the team will ask its safeties to do. There are no precedents any of those four must fit.

So, how else are the Kiffins going to decide who wins the job? By fall camp performance, of course.

Lane Kiffin has established a clear precedent regarding that: play better than the rest, and you'll play more than the rest. Starling beat out Jones last camp and earned the right to start the first nine games before he injured his hamstring and Jones supplanted him in the final month. He also has not been afraid to admit mistakes with evaluating his personnel, as evidenced by the depth-chart switch with these players and, recently, Devon Kennard's move back to defensive end.

McDonald and Starling, for what it's worth, are good friends and worked fairly well together in the secondary when they lined up across from each other.

That's it for today. Monday we question who will join Nickell Robey in the secondary before moving on to off-the-field stuff in the final two questions in our series.

Recapping Monday

May, 24, 2010
Links, notes and quotes to recap everything USC-related on this Monday:
  • The fifth-ranked USC men's tennis team upset top-seeded Virginia in Monday's semifinal to punch its ticket to the NCAA title game Tuesday against Tennessee. Sophomore Daniel Nguyen, who USC coach Peter Smith said was his most improved player this season, clinched the victory with a dramatic 7-6 (9), 6-4 win at the No. 4 singles spot after the Trojans won the doubles point and got key singles victories from Robert Farah and Peter Lucassen. USC lost three matches this season — including the final fixture of the regular season to rival UCLA — but appears to be back to the top form it exhibited in winning the NCAA title a season ago.
  • Former USC safety Kevin Ellison was arrested on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance in his native Redondo Beach. After he was pulled over for speeding in a residential area, Ellison had his car searched and police discovered 100 Vicodin pills — which he did not have a prescription for, according to Sgt. Peter Grimm. Ellison, a sixth-round selection of the San Diego Chargers in 2009, was a team leader in his time with the Trojans.
  • In recruiting news, linebacker Tre Madden (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo) committed to USC over the weekend, becoming the sixth member of the Class of 2011 — but the first linebacker — to commit to the Trojans. Madden, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound middle linebacker for Mission Viejo, projects as an outside linebacker at the college level. According to various reports, the high school junior first received an offer from USC last Thursday and took only a few days to mull it over, committing Sunday.
  • According to the L.A. Daily News, USC senior associate athletic director Brandon Martin has resigned to take a similar position at Oklahoma. Martin, who played basketball for the Trojans in the 1990's, reportedly made many basketball-related decisions during his tenure at USC and had notably been in the running for athletic director spots at smaller schools over the last year. Martin received undergraduate and graduate degrees from USC and also held a joint appointment as the Assistant Professor of Clinical Education in USC's Rossier School of Education. He is known for a dissertation entitled, "A Phenomenological Study of African American Male Student-Athletes at Highly Selective Division I Universities," published at USC.



C. Kessler361236296820
J. Allen1357855.814
T. Madden1387035.13
M. Lee5779113.94
N. Agholor5691816.46