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  The tackle to his left declared for the draft. The tackle to his right graduated. The left guard next to him moved to left tackle, after briefly considering leaving for the NFL, while the guard on his right side will likely shift out to right tackle. After an offseason of upheaval up front, Brett Neilon is the lone player still standing in the same place along USC's offensive line. How the pieces will fit around him is one of the most pressing questions facing the Trojans over the next three weeks of camp. Coaches are counting on Neilon, a junior center, to be the centerpiece in establishing the chemistry USC is searching for up front. "When you're trying to get five guys to play as one, you have to have one guy that can get everyone on the same page and make sure we're all pulling the rope in the same direction," offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said. "That's Brett's job, so on the field for him it's a ton of responsibility. The fact that he has as many reps as he has and he's as smart as he is really helps that cause."

It also doesn't hurt to have one of the Pac-12's top lineman back. Alijah Vera-Tucker's decision to opt in and play after initially declaring for the draft was clearly a major coup for a USC offense short on proven options up front. "After a lot of thought, I thought, why not?" Vera-Tucker said Tuesday. "Why not come back and be with my brothers, compete for a Pac-12 championship? Nothing really changed. The reason I came back last year was to do the same exact thing." But Vera-Tucker returns to far less depth and far more uncertainty up front this year than last. The All-Pac-12 guard will shift to left tackle, answering the most glaring of those questions. Jalen McKenzie, who started at right guard, is expected to move to right tackle. - Los Angeles Times

(DS#2 OG) rJr/2021 OG *Alijah Vera-TuckerSouthern California
News Source: Los Angeles Times



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