USC makes change at starting kicker ahead of season opener

Ryan Kartje
Southern California place kicker Chase McGrath, right, kicks a field goal as Southern California.
Chase McGrath will not be starting at kicker for USC when it opens the season Saturday against Arizona State. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

On the eve of an unusual season, USC has released a depth chart with few surprises.

The biggest shock on the Trojans’ two-deep list comes at placekicker, where freshman Parker Lewis has supplanted redshirt junior Chase McGrath.

McGrath, the former Santa Ana Mater Dei High kicker, made 14 of 17 field-goal attempts last season on his way to being named USC’s special teams player of the year. But that apparently wasn’t enough for him to keep his job under new special teams coordinator Sean Snyder.

USC coach Clay Helton said last week that the defensive line remained the team’s most unsettled position group, but in each of the two presumed open spots, USC chose its most experienced options.

Caleb Tremblay, a redshirt senior, will start at defensive tackle and Nick Figueroa, a redshirt junior, will start at defensive end. The two have plenty of experience rotating up front, but only have two starts between them, both from Tremblay.

Behind them, an impressive camp saw Ralen Goforth beat out Kana’i Mauga, who dealt with a hamstring injury throughout, for the open spot at Mac linebacker.

Along the offensive line, a unit that appeared ripe for close competition actually worked itself out early in camp. With Alijah Vera-Tucker kicking out to left tackle, redshirt junior Andrew Vorhees and redshirt senior Liam Jimmons will fill in the guard spots. Brett Neilon will retain his role at center, the only lineman to remain in the same spot as last season. Jalen McKenzie, who played most of last season at right guard, is the starter at right tackle.

The rest of USC’s starting spots were laid out as expected. Though, a few young contributors have worked their way into the two-deep early on.

After earning rave reviews over the last month, freshman Tuli Tuipulotu seems primed to contribute behind Figueroa.

On the offensive front, freshmen Casey Collier (left tackle), Courtland Ford (right guard), and Jonah Monheim (right tackle) are all listed as direct backups, while at wideout, freshmen Joshua Jackson Jr. and Gary Bryant Jr. and redshirt freshman Bru McCoy also snuck onto the depth chart.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.