As USC reached the midway point of spring workouts Thursday, Coach Steve Sarkisian decided to shake things up.
About an hour into the Trojans' eighth practice, players gathered in an end zone at Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field for a competitive one-on-one drill.
A dance contest.
Players whooped and hollered as teammates squared off in the surprise competition as music blared from sideline speakers.
"Guys have some moves and some guys don't," Sarkisian said. "I think some guys might listen to country music. That wasn't their flavor today."
Sarkisian identified receiver Darreus Rogers and linebacker Scott Starr as the standouts in a competition designed as a break of sorts from the breakneck pace of full-team drills.
"No one is going to go faster than we are right now," Sarkisian said.
Sarkisian and his staff have seven more practices, including an April 19 finale at the Coliseum, to evaluate players and how they perform in the new no-huddle offense and hybrid 3-4 defense.
About 20 players who are injured or recovering from surgeries remain sidelined.
Defensive lineman Leonard Williams, linebacker Lamar Dawson and cornerback Josh Shaw are among those expected to sit out all of spring practice.
Running back Javorius Allen and safety Su'a Cravens might return, Sarkisian said, but the focus is on getting to training camp in August with every player available.
"When we're healthy," Sarkisian said, "we've got more depth than people think."
Defensive lineman Delvon Simmons is looking forward to playing after sitting out last season following his transfer from Texas Tech.
The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Simmons practiced with the scout team in 2013. He also observed starters such as linebackers Devon Kennard and Morgan Breslin and defensive lineman George Uko.
Kennard and Breslin completed their eligibility and they are preparing for the NFL draft. Uko decided to forego his final season and made himself available for the draft.
"It wasn't a wasted year because I got to learn and sit and watch good guys play and learn" from them, Simmons said.
Simmons, a fourth-year junior, started 13 games at Texas Tech in 2012. He had six tackles for losses, including two sacks.
With Williams sidelined while recovering from a shoulder procedure, tackle Antwaun Woods has been the leader of a defensive line that includes redshirt freshman Kenny Bigelow and junior college transfer Claude Pelon.
Rogers made several outstanding catches during the final red-zone portion of the workout. The sure-handed sophomore had 22 receptions last season. ….Most of the attention regarding quarterbacks has been on junior Cody Kessler and redshirt freshman Max Browne. But freshman Jalen Greene, who graduated early from Gardena Serra High and enrolled in January, continues to impress with a strong arm and quick left-handed release… .Linebacker Hayes Pullard and walk-on linebacker Nick Schlossberg intercepted passes by Kessler…. The Trojans will have a scrimmage period during Saturday's practice on campus. Afterward, players will participate in the annual Swim With Mike event that raises scholarship money for physically challenged athletes.
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