USC: Kris Albarado

Spring position breakdown: Punters

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
12:00
PM PT
Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 concludes with punters.

Arizona: Drew Riggleman is back after handling all of the punting responsibilities last season. He averaged 40.1 yards per kick, pinned 18 inside the 20 and had 12 kicks of 50-plus yards. He ranked eighth in the conference -- though the difference between first (Utah’s Tom Hackett) and Riggleman was an average of 3.4 yards.

Arizona State: Punting was one of ASU’s biggest issues last season. Matt Haack started to come on strong at the end of the season and will likely challenge Alex Garoutte, who averaged 38.8 yards per kick last season. Should Haack win the job, Garoutte is always an option with his rollout style. Quarterback Taylor Kelly has also been known to offer the occasional boot. He punted six times last season, once for 50-plus, and had three downed inside the 20.

California: Cole Leininger is back after a very solid season for the Golden Bears, where he was tied for second in the conference with an average of 42.9 yards per kick. Cal has four punters on the roster in addition to Leininger. And while he’s mostly unchallenged, there are plenty of backup options.

Colorado: Third-team all-conference punter Darragh O'Neill returns and was a midseason Ray Guy candidate last season. He averaged 40.5 yards per punt last year and pinned 22 inside the 20.

Oregon: Alejandro Maldonado handled the punting duties last season and made a couple of appearances as a kicker before the job went to Matt Wogan. Expect Wogan to handle all kicking responsibilities, though some walk-ons will also get looks.

Oregon State: Keith Kostol is back as a third-year starter. He finished last season tied for fifth in the conference with an average of 40.5 yards per punt. He also put 23 kicks inside the 20.

Stanford: Ben Rhyne returns to handle the punting duties for the Cardinal. He was one of the best in the conference last season with an average of 42.9 yards per kick -- just half a yard behind Hackett. He had 12 kicks of 50-plus yards and put 15 inside the 20.

UCLA: Sean Covington is back after having a very solid season, where he posted an average of 42.6 yards per punt. Do-it-all quarterback Brett Hundley punted once last season, but it’s safe to assume that Convington’s job is secure.

USC: Kris Albarado didn’t post an impressive yards-per-punt average (37.1), but he was very good at pinning opponents, with 27 kicks inside the 20. And of his 64 kicks, almost half were fair-caught.

Utah: Hackett was last season's first-team all-conference punter, so expect some preseason All-American hype for him. As noted earlier, he led the conference with an average of 43.4 yards per punt and buried 27 kicks inside the 20.

Washington: Travis Coons pulled double-duty last season. In addition to nailing 15 of 16 field goal attempts, he also averaged 40.4 yards per punt and had eight kicks of 50-plus yards to go with 23 inside the 20. Korey Durkee did some punting in 2012 before Coons won the job, so he’ll get the first look in 2014. Newcomer Tristan Vizcaino could also get looks at kicker and/or punter.

Washington State: Wes Concepcion was the starter in the final two games as punter last season. With Mike Bowlin gone, he should be the favorite to handle punting duties full time. Concepcion punted 12 times last season for an average of 36.2 yards. Eight of those 12 were fair catches and three were inside the 20.

Previous positions

Kicker
Safety
Cornerback
Linebacker
Defensive end
Tight end
Quarterback
Running back
Receiver
Offensive line
Defensive tackle

Spring position breakdown: Place-kickers

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
5:30
PM PT
Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 continues with place-kickers.

Arizona: Casey Skowron, Bret Miller and Michael Unzicker are all in the mix this spring to replace Jake Smith, who converted 12 of 19 kicks (63.2 percent) last season, including a long of 53. The 12 converted field goals were the lowest in the conference, as was the conversion percentage.

Arizona State: No team in the Pac-12 attempted more field goals in 2013 than the Sun Devils -- and Zane Gonzalez was one of the few bright spots for an otherwise dismal ASU special teams unit. The freshman All-American converted 25 of 30 attempts (83.3) and had a streak of 18 straight.

California: With Vincenzo D’Amato gone (he was 17 of 20 last season), it’s looking like James Langford, Noah Beito and Matt Anderson will all get looks. Langford might have the edge as the kickoff guy with Beito a potential early frontrunner for field goals.

Colorado: Senior Will Oliver is back after converting 17 of 24 kicks last year (70.8 percent). He was perfect inside the 30 (7 of 7) and missed just once inside of 40 yards. Three of his misses came from 50-plus (2 of 5). He’s a potential All-American candidate. Strong-legged Diego Gonzalez from Guadalupe, Mexico, is waiting in the wings.

Oregon: Oregon’s kicking adventures weren’t as interesting in 2013 as they’ve been in the past. While the Ducks attempted the fewest field goals in the conference, Matt Wogan was a solid 7 of 9, and Alejandro Maldonado was 3 of 5 for a combined 71.4 percent -- seventh in the conference. Wogan returns and should be considered the frontrunner to handle all kicking duties, including punting.

Oregon State: Trevor Romaine returns as a fourth-year starter after converting 14 of 20 attempts last season. He was mostly money inside of 40 yards, converting 11 of 13 attempts. But struggled on the longer kicks, converting just 2 of 5 between 40-49 yards and 1 of 2 beyond 50.

Stanford: Jordan Williamson is back after connecting on 18 of 22 kicks in 2013, including a long of 48. Of his four misses, two of them came from 50 yards or longer, where he was 0 for 2. He was automatic inside the 30 and 15 of 16 inside of 40 yards. Time to finally put the 2011 Fiesta Bowl to rest. He's one of the league's most consistent kickers.

UCLA: Ka’imi Fairbairn returns after a hit-and-miss year where he connected on 14 of 21 kicks with a long of 48. He had a stretch where he converted on eight in a row. But also had some inconsistent games (2 of 4 against Nebraska, 2 of 4 against ASU).

USC: Andre Heidari had an up-and-down season. He struggled greatly in the 40-49 yard range, converting on just 3 of 8 kicks. Overall, he was 15 of 22, and his 2013 will most likely be remembered for his 47-yard game-winner against Stanford. Heidari also handled almost every kickoff, though punter Kris Albarado is available if needed.

Utah: "Automatic" Andy Phillips returns after making quite the splash in his first season of football. The former skier became a household name -- well, at least a name in Pac-12 households -- after converting on the first 11 field goals of his career. He’s got a big leg, converting on 9 of 11 from 40 yards or longer.

Washington: No easy task replacing Travis Coons, who handled kicking and punting for the Huskies. He was the Pac-12’s most accurate kicker in 2013, converting on 15 of 16 attempts. Cameron Van Winkle handled some kickoffs before an injury set him back, and Tristan Vizcaino comes in this fall and should be in the mix.

Washington State: Strong-legged Andrew Furney is gone. Wes Concepcion and Erik Powell are the kickers on the roster. Powell was a walk-on, but the coaching staff is high on him. Concepcion likely will handle punting but could kick if needed.

Previous positions

Safety
Cornerback
Linebacker
Defensive end
Tight end
Quarterback
Running back
Receiver
Offensive line
Defensive tackle

Albarado’s turn in the spotlight 

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
10:00
AM PT
Normally, if the performance of a punter winds up serving as a topic of conversation during the week following a game, it’s for something that went wrong, rather than right.

But that isn’t the case when it comes to USC’s Kris Albarado. Having played a crucial part in the Trojans’ 17-14 victory over Utah State this past Saturday by pinning five of his seven punts inside the Aggies’ 20-yard line, including two inside the five, the first-year starter found himself in unfamiliar territory on Wednesday, fielding questions from a variety media outlets after the team’s workout. This, just two days after having been named as the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week -- something that Albarado couldn’t quite believe when he initially learned that he had received the honor through, of all things, Twitter.

[+] EnlargeKris Albarado
Ric Tapia/Icon SMIUSC punter Kris Albarado was named Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week after his standout effort against Utah State.
“Honestly I was pretty shocked,” said Albarado, who on the season is averaging 40.3 yards per punt, while placing 12 of his 23 attempts inside the opponents’ 20. “It just popped up, and I was like, ‘No, this can’t be right.’ But it is pretty cool to get the attention. I kind of get to see the side of everything that Marqise [Lee] and everybody gets to see.”

Defense bails out Trojans again

September, 21, 2013
9/21/13
6:29
PM PT
video
LOS ANGELES -- USC was hoping to use the game against Utah State as a way to build some positive momentum, but the 17-14 victory over the Aggies showed that the Trojans still have a long way to go.

Make no mistake, it’s always nice to get the win but this is a game where the Trojans had a huge advantage in field position and also got the usual solid game from the defense. Unfortunately, the USC offense couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities to put the game away in the second half and, if not for some special teams miscues by Utah State, the result could have been very different.

“It was a very hard fought game today,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “Very much like what we anticipated. I felt like there was a rhythm early on when we were able to run the ball, but obviously we wanted to finish better in the second half.”

USC started off strong with a Tre Madden touchdown run on the second series of the game to go up 7-0. The Trojans defense put good pressure early on Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton, primarily with defensive linemen Leonard Williams and George Uko as well as outside linebackers Devon Kennard and Morgan Breslin. USC dodged a bullet when Utah State clanged a first-quarter field goal off the upright, a miss that would loom large.

[+] EnlargeLeonard Williams, Hayes Pullard
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsLeonard Williams (left) and the USC defense put the crunch on Utah State on Saturday.
Each team added a touchdown in the second quarter, and as the second half started it was clear it was anyone’s ball game.

The Trojans had their chances with the Aggies playing an eight-man front, leaving the USC receivers against man coverage. Normally, that would spell a big day for Marqise Lee and/or Nelson Agholor, but there were some dropped passes and some pressure on Cody Kessler which prevented the Trojans from capitalizing. Lee ended the day with six catches for 72 yards, while Agholor had two catches for 38 yards. Neither player reached the end zone.

“I missed some throws and we had some drops, but they are things we can fix,” Kessler said. “Thanks for the job our defense did, we were able to come away with the win.”

The USC defense is rapidly becoming known as the side of the ball which will win games for this team. Williams led the team in tackles with eight and added three tackles for loss. Uko had five tackles and a sack, Breslin had two sacks and Kennard added a sack. They did a terrific job of limiting Keeton -- who came into the game completing 78 percent of his passes -- to a rather pedestrian stat line of 21-of-39 passing for 179 yards and a pair of scores. Good numbers to be sure, but not enough to get it done against the Trojans.

“We had a good game plan from Coach O (Orgreon) the whole week,” Uko said. “We just wanted to angle in and rush tight and keep them in the box”

The battle for field position really started to impact the game in the second half, as the Trojans’ average starting field position was the Utah State 45, while Utah State started at its own 16. It didn’t help the Aggies that their punter had a shanked 12-yard kick at the end of the third quarter that led directly to a 25-yard Andre Heidari field goal, which proved to be the winning margin. There was also a strange fake punt from the Aggies on a fourth-and-11 from their own 34-yard line in the fourth quarter, resulting in an incomplete pass from tight end D.J. Tialavea.

If you’re looking for bright spots for the Trojans, look no further than punter Kris Albarado, who pinned five punts inside the Aggies’ 20-yard line to help win the field position battle. Little things like that are big on a day when the two teams are basically even in total yards (285 for USU to 282 for USC).

Madden fell short in his bid for a fourth-straight 100-yard rushing day but did run for 93 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown. Kessler completed 13 of 27 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown, but he was also sacked three times and took several big hits.

Now the Trojans turn their attention to a big road game next week in Tempe against Arizona State. There was hope that things would be clicking after a four-game opening stretch that included three games at home but at this point the offense can best be described as a work in progress. Thankfully the Trojans have their defense, a unit which once again put the team on their shoulders to come away with a tougher-than-expected win.

Taking a look at the depth chart

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
6:11
PM PT
USC released its season-opening depth chart Sunday night. Here are our brief takeaways, position by position:

Quarterback

As expected, Cody Kessler and Max Wittek are still listed as co-backups to starter Matt Barkley. We should have a resolution soon, according to Lane Kiffin, who said Sunday he'd have something to say on the subject on "Tuesday morning."

For what it's worth, Kessler was listed first at the end of spring and Wittek was listed first this time. But they still had an all-caps "OR" in between their names both times.

Running back

This might be the biggest surprise on the depth chart.

Curtis McNeal was expected to be the for-sure starter heading into camp, and that didn't change much when Silas Redd was added just days before. McNeal has done very little wrong over the last few weeks, yet, somehow, Redd's listed as his co-starter on the depth chart.

As the third-string running back, D.J. Morgan cannot afford to fumble this season. A turnover or two and his carries will be going to redshirt freshman Buck Allen, who has improved in camp.

Fullback

Soma Vainuku is the starter here. There was never any doubt.

Freshman Jahleel Pinner is listed as the second-stringer, but it's likely he'll redshirt, so third-stringer Charles Burks is probably bound for the backup role. Walk-on Hunter Simmons gets on the depth chart after re-joining the team this year.

(Read full post)

Fall camp position preview: Special teams

August, 6, 2012
8/06/12
9:27
AM PT
To prepare for the start of the 2012 USC campaign, we’re doing position-by-position previews of the Trojans’ roster all this week. We began Monday with quarterbacks and continued until Sunday with the defensive backs.

Today, with fall camp kicking off this evening, we take a quick look at the special teams.

For each position, we’re starting with a projected 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.

Punter

1. Kyle Negrete, redshirt senior
2. Kris Albarado, redshirt freshman

Kicker

1. Andre Heidari, sophomore
2. Craig McMahon, redshirt sophomore

Long snapper

1. Peter McBride, redshirt freshman

Holder

1. Matt Barkley, senior
2. Cody Kessler, redshirt freshman

Kickoff returner

1. Robert Woods, junior
2a. Curtis McNeal, redshirt senior
2b. Marqise Lee, sophomore

Punt returner

1a. Nickell Robey, junior
1b. Robert Woods
3. Marqise Lee

(Read full post)

Analyzing the 2012 depth chart

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
9:24
PM PT
USC released its annual end-of-spring depth chart last week, which we posted mostly without comment at the time. Here, now, is our position-by-position analysis of what Lane Kiffin and Co. released, with an eye on what it means for the 2012 Trojans.

Quarterback

This was exactly as expected, with Matt Barkley entrenched and Cody Kessler and Max Wittek continuing to compete behind him. It is noteworthy that Jesse Scroggins is listed a spot behind the two redshirt freshmen and not tied with them, but it'd be a little unfair for him to be anywhere else. He missed most of the spring with hip issues and is still in academic jeopardy.

Running back

Where would Tre Madden have been if he wasn't out for the 2012 season? That's the question this portion of the chart begs. Curtis McNeal would still be starting, but Madden could very well be vying with D.J. Morgan for that No. 2 spot. Javorious Allen will be the third-string back unless he gets beat out by an incoming freshman.

Fullback

Soma Vainuku is locked in as the starter with no pressing competition, but he had himself a nice conclusion to the spring anyway, giving the coaching staff more confidence in him going into the summer. Jahleel Pinner will be somewhat of an unknown.

Receiver

De'Von Flournoy jumped in front of Victor Blackwell with an impressive spring, and has now put himself into position to challenge George Farmer for third-receiver status in the fall. And if Farmer can't stay healthy (again), then Flournoy's suddenly the favorite to line up with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee.

(Read full post)

Spring position preview: Special teams

March, 5, 2012
3/05/12
1:04
PM PT
We’re doing position previews leading up to spring practice, breaking down one group’s depth chart each day, paying special attention to things that can change in the spring.

We’ve looked at the quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, tight ends, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties so far. Today, we finish things up with the special teams.

USC lost a four-year starter to graduation this winter in long snapper Chris Pousson, but the Trojans already had his replacement ready in Peter McBride, a 2011 signee who redshirted last season.

McBride was one of the top snappers available in that class. He's small -- at a listed 205 pounds, he's 45 less than Pousson -- but he's proven to be technically proficient. The transition shouldn't be terribly difficult.

And the Trojans also have returning starters at kicker and punter in Andre Heidari and Kyle Negrete. Heidari was downright awesome last season, one of the best kickers in the country; Negrete was efficient, downing roughly half his punts inside the 20-yard line and hitting zero touchbacks the entire year.

One interesting thing: Negrete, now a senior to-be, wasn't supposed to win the job last year. That was supposed to be freshman Kris Albarado, another scholarship player in the Class of 2011. But it made some sense for Negrete to punt last season, since Albarado had his redshirt year available.

But what about now? What about now that USC has one scholarship punter and one walk-on both using up years of eligibility? Will the walk-on -- Negrete -- continue to punt over the guy getting a free education?

For what the Trojans needed last season, Negrete was the perfect punter. The offense didn't fail a ton, but when it did, he could consistently pin the opponents back deep in their own territory.

It seems like they'll need the same sort of thing in 2012, which means Negrete is likely to keep the job for another year and Albarado is likely to take over the job as a third-year sophomore in 2013.

If anything's going to change on this front, we'll likely see the start of it this spring.

One other thing: The returner spots are also interesting openings this year, because it's likely USC won't want to use Curtis McNeal or Robert Woods there often to preserve the skill position players' health. So who could emerge there?

Freshman Nelson Agholor will be a prime candidate, but he won't arrive until the summer. We'll see who else shortly.

Check back later today for five final questions before spring practice begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. for USC.

Fall camp practice No. 7 tidbits

August, 10, 2011
8/10/11
5:00
PM PT


Here's what went on at Howard Jones Field on Wednesday morning, for the first half of the Trojans' first two-a-day session of the fall and seventh practice overall:

Ellison enjoying fullback

On the first day of practice last week, senior Rhett Ellison surprised some by spending some time at fullback rather than his usual position of tight end.

But by now, a week into camp, it's no longer a surprise. Ellison's trying out both positions and focusing on fullback, with the reasoning being the Trojans already know what they have in him as a tight end. And, they say, they don't entirely know what they have in him as a fullback just yet.

He started two games at the position in 2008 while Stanley Havili was injured, but he has worked almost exclusively at tight end. And the Trojans have three talented second-year tight ends on scholarship in Christian Thomas, Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer, and no scholarship returners at fullback, only first-year players Soma Vainuku and Charles Burks.

So Ellison's playing fullback -- and, really, a variation of what's commonly referred to as H-back, as he has been moved around a lot in various sets.

"It's new," Ellison said of the position after Wednesday's morning session. "And it's been a lot of fun just trying to learn it and figure it out."

Always known as a smart player, the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Ellison says he is having some troubling figuring it out and picking up the different things he's now required to know, but not enough to the point where's he worried about it.

"Just understanding defenses in the grand scheme of things," Ellison said when asked what he's working on most. "Just everything. You have to understand everything from the defensive line techniques to the linebacker stacks, where the safeties are rotating, the corners ... all that kind of stuff, as opposed to a tight end, where you just have to worry about half of the line of scrimmage, pretty much."

(Read full post)

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.

One-on-one with a signee: Punter Kris Albarado

February, 2, 2011
2/02/11
5:55
PM PT
Three-star punter Kris Albarado (Lake Charles, La./St. Louis) signed with USC this morning, becoming the third special-teams exclusive player the Trojans have brought in within the last month. Kicker Andre Heidari and long snapper Peter McBride signed as early enrollees last month and have begun taking classes. We spoke with Albarado by phone Wednesday to get his take on his signing and all things USC on signing day:

Q: What are your thoughts on a day like this, signing a letter of intent to enroll in only a few months at USC to presumably be the Trojans' starting punter as a freshman?

A: I’m excited that I get to go to a place that’s as a good a football program as USC. As a punter/kicker, you don’t get a lot of chances to go to big schools, and I’m really fortunate to be able to go to USC. It’s a really good feeling -- I’ve kicked with tons of guys and only a handful of them are gonna be signing with big schools, so I feel honored.

Q: You're the third special teams signee in the last month, with Heidari and McBride coming in in January. What does that tell you about Lane Kiffin and his staff's focus on that unit?

A: That shows that their heart and souls are in special teams. When I was there this weekend, we had a special teams meeting with all of the coaches and all of the recruits that were there. I’ve been to select special teams camps and haven’t even had that before. So to have that on an official visit was awesome. It shows their commitment to it. They’re extremely committed to it and that’s not going to change.

Q: This day is obviously shaping up pretty well so far for USC, with pretty much every recruiting service putting you guys in the top five with a few hours left to go on National Signing Day. Your thoughts?

A: I think that’s awesome. That shows that even though we have the sanctions and everything we can still push through because we’re USC. The coaches can really get out there and say: ‘This is who we are. This is what we’ve had. And we’re gonna be back there if you come to our school.’ I think that’s helped with all those guys. They’re all really genuine guys and they like to play football and it’ll be good to spend the next four years with them. USC just has not only a really experienced coaching staff but a really enthusiastic one. And they know what they want to do and they’re definitely getting themselves out there, trying to get the best guys to get USC back to where they used to be in the early 2000’s and all of that.

(Read full post)

10 official signings for USC

February, 2, 2011
2/02/11
10:34
AM PT
USC's athletic department got a late start on confirming official signees Wednesday morning, announcing the first signature at 9:30 a.m., but the school has caught up to speed quickly.

As of 10:20 a.m., 10 players are now confirmed members of USC's 2011 recruiting class by the school. They are:

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

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

Linebacker Anthony Sarao (Absecon, N.J./Holy Spirit)

Defensive tackle J.R. Tavai (Redondo Beach, Calif./Mira Costa)

Offensive lineman Cody Temple (Bakersfield, Calif./Liberty)

Offensive lineman Aundrey Walker (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville)

Defensive lineman DeVante Wilson (Corona, Calif./Corona)

Linebacker Charles Burks (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison(

Offensive lineman Cyrus Hobbi (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro)

Defensive lineman Christian Heyward (San Diego, Calif./Point Loma)

Nine more players who are currently committed to USC are expected to be confirmed by the school as the day goes on, and there remains the possibility that more players -- like athlete Marqise Lee (Gardena, Calif/Serra) or tight end Junior Pomee (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde) will sign with the Trojans.

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