USC never lacks for talent at wide receiver, and this year is no exception. The Trojans return the bulk of a loading receiving corps, with several young players looking poised to break out in the second season of the Air Raid, with quarterback Kedon Slovis back as a sophomore.
Here’s a breakdown of where USC stands at wide receiver and tight end:
Key returnees: Josh Falo (Sr.), Kyle Ford (R-Fr.), John Jackson III (So.), Erik Krommenhoek (Sr.), Drake London (So.), Bru McCoy (R-Fr.), Ethan Rae (R-Fr.), Amon-Ra St. Brown (Jr.), Tyler Vaughns (Sr.), Jude Wolfe (R-Fr.)
Key losses: Michael Pittman Jr.
Newcomers: Gary Bryant, Joshua Jackson
Biggest unanswered question: Are the tight ends ready to be a consistent option in the passing game? That’s been the position group’s stated goal all preseason, but that does feel like a recurring theme at USC. So is 2020 the season when it actually happens?
Krommenhoek provides steady veteran presence at the position, while Falo is still playing himself into shape after the pandemic-affected offseason. But the real candidate to break out at this position is Wolfe.
The redshirt freshman didn’t see much of the field after enrolling early from St. John Bosco in 2019. But he is drawing rave reviews from training camp and could earn the confidence of Slovis and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell for them to dial up plays for him this season.
Why 2020 production could be better: There are plenty of reasons to be bullish about the USC receiving corps. It is the second year in the Air Raid offense as well as Slovis’ second year at starting quarterback, this time with a full offseason knowing he’ll be the guy. Also, several Pac-12 South teams have young secondaries, waiting to be burned.
And then, of course, there are the players within USC’s receiving unit. St. Brown is coming off a 1,000-yard season, and Vaughns missed that mark by just 88 yards last year. London was a sensation as a true freshman and looks to build off that success. McCoy is finally healthy after his weird saga in 2019. And talent abounds with Ford, Jackson III and Bryant vying for playing time.
Why 2020 production could be worse: USC did lose Pittman, the Trojans’ leading receiver and team captain. Maybe that proves too difficult a loss to overcome, but given the rest of the returning talent, that seems unlikely.