Five Trojans named Preseason All-Americans

first_imgSummer has just begun, but there will be no lazy beach days for USC football. This season, the Trojans should be in the hunt for a Pac-12 title that doesn’t have a clear favorite. If USC does make it to the Pac-12 title game, they will likely face either No. 11 Stanford or No. 18 Oregon — the North’s heavyweights.Loaded with five Preseason All-Americans, USC definitely has the talent to win the conference as no other Pac-12 team has more than three based on Phil Steele’s 2016 Preseason All-American Team.Junior wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster is a first team pick and Biletnikoff Award favorite. Smith-Schuster finished last season with 89 catches for 1,454 yards and 10 TDs (all team bests). He was named one of 10 Biletnikoff Award semifinalists in 2015, and he earned second-team All American honors and made the All-Pac-12 first team. His 2015 campaign was slowed by a wrist-break midway through the year versus California. Although he never missed a game, Smith-Schuster only posted one 100-plus game after the injury. In 2016, the sky’s the limit for a healthy JuJu.Three Trojans — Zach Banner, Adoree’ Jackson, and Zach Smith — made the second team. Banner, a fifth-year senior, started all 14 games for USC in 2015 — 12 times at right tackle and twice at left tackle. named him a third-team All-American and to the All-Pac-12 first team. The Associated Press and Phil Steele named Banner All-Pac-12 second team. Jackson, a rising junior will focus less on offense next year to improve at cornerback. He is USC’s only player to be named a preseason All-American at two positions — cornerback and punt returner. Smith, a three-year starter, will return for his senior year at long snapper.USC’s fifth preseason All-American, linebacker Cam Smith, was named to the third team. Smith, a rising sophomore, made Phil Steele’s All-Pac-12 second team last year despite missing USC’s final four games with a knee injury suffered versus Colorado. Through ten games, Smith led the Trojans in tackles (78) and interceptions (3). His healthy performance in 2016 is critical to the Trojans defense.In addition to these five men, Phil Steele named 10 Trojans to his Preseason Pac-12 Team (fifteen in total). Junior guard Damien Mama joins Banner and Smith-Schuster as first team selection on offense, while Cameron Smith and Jackson made first team defense, and Jackson and Zack Smith first team special teams.Senior running back Justin Davis and sophomore Ronald Jones II both made preseason All-Pac-12. According to Phil Steele, Davis is a second-team selection and Jones third-team. In 2015, Jones was a Phil Steele All-Pac-12 third-team selection. Davis started eight games, running for 902 yards and averaging 5.3 per carry with seven TDs including two in the Holiday Bowl versus Wisconsin. His three biggest rushing performances came in three consecutive games versus ranked opponents – Oregon (141 yards), UCLA (130), and Stanford (99).Offensive linemen junior Toa Lobendahn and redshirt senior Chad Wheeler each nabbed second-team honors according to Athlon. Lobendahn missed half of last year with a knee injury and Wheeler had off-field issues later in the season, though he earned Phil Steele’s third team All-Pac-12 honors last year. The two of them will return to lead a veteran O-line that Phil Steele ranks first in the Pac-12.Redshirt junior Max Browne, a first-time starter in 2016, rounds out Southern California’s offensive preseason All-Pac-12 selections with Phil Steele’s fourth-team honors. A lot will be riding on his shoulders when the Trojans open the season versus defending NCAA champions Alabama.The Trojans do not have a shortage of talent on the other side of the ball. Phil Steele named six defensive Trojans to his preseason All-Pac-12 team. Jackson and Cameron Smith lead on the first team, followed by sophomores cornerback Iman Marshall on second, defensive back Marvell Tell III on third, and linebacker Osa Masina and defensive tackle Rasheem Green on fourth. USC’s young defensive backs will return in 2016 with experience, maturity and an Adoree’ Jackson who will not have to split practice time with the offense.While USC does not kick off its 2016 campaign until September, the summer is abuzz with talk of Trojan football. With Clay Helton settled in as head coach, USC’s young stars should have the proper tutelage to blossom into All-Pac-12 performers in 2016.last_img