USC Football: Previewing the secondary

A group that is scattered with potential, the USC football team’s secondary will be relied on to have a strong impact in every facet of the defense.

The corner position is deep and talented, led by Josh Shaw, a player who is on the radar of NFL scouts as a lockdown type of player. While Shaw may be the best of the bunch, Kevon Seymour looks to start opposite of him and be another impact player that will get plenty of opportunities as opposing quarterbacks look to avoid Shaw’s half of the field.

At safety, there is little depth behind the two starters, but luckily those starters seem to be a very capable bunch. Sophomore Su’a Cravens is one of the best playmakers on the entire roster and looks poised to build on a very impressive freshman season. Leon McQuay III is the other starter and should prove to be an efficient starter and strong compliment the prolific Cravens.

Cornerback

CB1: Josh Shaw; RS Senior, 6-1, 200 pounds

The leader of this deep cornerback group, Shaw is looking to build off of last season and solidify himself as a legitimate NFL prospect. Although he has spent time at safety in the past, there has been no indication that he will be moving back at this time, a move that allows the best rotation to be starting for the secondary. With good size and natural instincts, Shaw looks to be the Trojans’ shutdown corner that helps make the jobs of the rest of the defense much easier.

CB2: Kevon Seymour; Junior, 6-0, 185 pounds

With 11 starts last season, Seymour is a talented corner on the opposite side of the field as Shaw. He will be looking to hold onto this spot and become a more complete player than last season. As teams will attempt to avoid Shaw, they will target the receiver that Seymour is covering, and he must be able to take advantage of his opportunities and make the opposing quarterbacks regret going after him.

[USC football: O-line preview]

Safety

Free Safety: Leon McQuay III; Sophomore, 6-1, 185 pounds

After being featured in certain situations and on special teams as a true freshman last season, McQuay is looking to hold onto a starting position throughout the 2014 year and become a dynamic compliment to Cravens. With a whole year under his belt and experience around him in the secondary, McQuay should expand his role and become and essential part of this unit.

Strong Safety: Su’a Cravens; Sophomore, 6-1, 225 pounds

After a sensational true freshman season where he started from the beginning of the year, Cravens comes back as a leader and most important playmaker for an improving defense. Cravens will be expected to continue his dominant play on the field, but also take on an increased role in leadership under the new coaching staff. Any form of improvement on last season’s performance would help to build his reputation and one of the nation’s most impressive defensive players.

Player to watch: Chris Hawkins, RS Freshman, 5-11, 185 pounds

If an injury causes Shaw to move to the safety position, it will be up to Hawkins to step up and become a starting cornerback. After enrolling in the spring of 2013, Hawkins redshirted and should be ready to go after a year of adjusting to the college game and getting ready to take on an increased position on the Trojans. Even without an injury, Hawkins should see time, and will be looked to as an emerging playmaker on the defensive side of the ball.