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ASU Football: USC Players to Watch

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A new quarterback and some of the most talented players in the nation highlight the Sun Devil’s competition this Saturday night.

USC v Stanford
#2 Adoree’ Jackson of the USC Trojans returns a kickoff against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium.
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Just two years ago, in the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Jael Mary was born. The Arizona State Sun Devils claimed one of they most historic wins in football history—a season late they fell to the USC Trojans a season later in a horrific loss, 49-14.

Currently, both teams are unranked, featuring new quarterbacks and very different records. The Trojans (1-3) have struggled with a painful schedule that’s included three ranked opponents away from home, while the Sun Devils have maneuvered their way to a perfect 4-0 record.

To add to the stress of USC’s season, the team has already changed its starting quarterback from redshirt junior Max Browne to redshirt freshman Sam Darnold.

USC fans have every right to be insecure of what this season has come to, but must be reminded they have some of the most talented players in the nation. The Trojans has had the number one recruiting class in the Pac-12 for the past three seasons.

Players to Watch

QB Sam Darnold

Though Darnold wasn’t the starter from day one, he’s had a taste of both No. 1 Alabama and No. 7 Stanford, then performed well against No. 18 Utah. Darnold fumbled the ball once, but he was clear of an interception and led an offense that scored the most points (27) against the Utes all season. Unlike Browne, who isn’t considered a mobile quarterback, Darnold can scramble out of the pocket and create plays with his feet. The redshirt freshman already has a running touchdown this season.

WR Darreus Rogers

Watch out for junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, but don’t overlook the fifth-year senior Rogers, who has become a favorite of USC quarterbacks. Rogers has seen his playing time immensely increase, and he currently leads the team in receiving yards. This 6-foot-1, 215-pound, under-the-radar receiver can sneak in a big game against a Sun Devil pass defense that is ranked the worst in the nation for a second week in a row.

DB Adoree’ Jackson

There’s nothing like him—a track star, kick and punt returner and a horror for opposing quarterbacks, the junior is arguably the most athletic player in college football.

Jackson has returned six kicks for touchdowns in his career and had an 100-yard kick return score last week against Utah. With USC’s struggles this season offensively, Jackson may need to help out on offense, defense and special teams. ASU senior kicker Zane Gonzalez will have to boot it even further into the end zone than he has all season against this freakishly fast return man.

LB Cameron Smith

Standing at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, the sophomore leads the Trojans in tackles at 26 this season and had a season high of 15 total last weekend in Salt Lake City. Not only can he rack up tackles, but he has great vision and can read quarterbacks. As a freshman, Smith had three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown against Utah at home. He returns to the Coliseum to play ASU where he will be spying redshirt sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins all night.