Former top USC recruit Korey Foreman’s season slowed by injury

A new season and a new staff should mean a fresh start for Korey Foreman. But in two crucial weeks of USC preseason camp, the former No. 1 overall recruit barely had a chance to get going.

An unknown injury has kept Foreman sidelined since last week. Before that, he missed time for what USC coach Lincoln Riley called “a prior commitment.” Overall, he’s left most of the Trojans’ camp so far — having also missed the start of spring training with an injury — leaving him minimal opportunities to make an impression on USC staff ahead of the season.

“Is that a problem, Korey misses that? Sure,” Riley said Tuesday. “But I want to point that out, not because it’s Korey, but because it’s a player on the USC football team.”

Few other USC players, however, arrived with nearly the same hype as Foreman, whose signing was viewed as such a turning point for USC’s football program that it was commemorated on a campus billboard. After a frustrating first year of sparing use, this season is a crucial one for the former five-star recruit and his trajectory under Riley.

Luckily for Foreman, there’s not much of a depth map at the end of the rush to challenge him around playtime right now. Auburn transfer Romello Height also sat out most of practice this week with an undisclosed injury. He spent most of the training sessions open to the media wearing a gold non-contact jersey.

Aside from those two, USC only has three players listed as Rush Ends in its roster, one of whom (Solomon Tuliaupupu) was also out of practice due to an injury. The other two — Devan Thompkins and Walk-On Garrett Pomerantz — are freshmen.

Others, like Solomon Byrd at defensive end and centre-back Julien Simon, had to move to join the fray. Even standout defensive end Tuli Tuipulotu has at times shifted wide to bear some of the burden of the passing rush.

Nobody has panicked about the position yet. But that razor-thin depth becomes more and more of a problem for defensive coordinator Alex Grinch with every pass practice.

“I’m very concerned,” Grinch said Thursday. “We’re not getting those last two weeks back.”

Just over two weeks separate USC from their opening game against Rice, leaving Trojans Rush Ends coach Roy Manning just a handful of days to determine who deserves to start in that position. Height is the likely favorite after a stellar spring, but he has yet to fully cement that position. Nobody has, Manning said.

“The reality is that none of them have done anything related to the grand scheme of things, so they should all have a chip on their shoulder,” Manning said.

For Foreman in particular, the next two weeks should be instructive. In a defense in dire need of edge rushers, talent alone could still make him USC’s missing piece in the pass rush.

In any case, the Trojan Defense clock is ticking to find out.

“This position needs to be solidified here really quickly,” said Grinch, “or it’s going to be an interesting first couple of weeks.” Former top USC recruit Korey Foreman’s season slowed by injury

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