Porter Gustin

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Clay Helton is numb over season-ending ankle injury to USC LB Porter Gustin

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USC linebacker Porter Gustin saw his 2018 season come to a close with a season-ending ankle injury suffered in the final minutes of USC’s Saturday night victory over Colorado. Gustin will undergo surgery this week and begin his rehab process.

“We are all kind of numb right now, to be honest with you,” USC head coach Clay Helton said Sunday night, per the Los Angeles Times. “He’s a force of nature, and you think of him as a superhero, as Thor, as we say, and to know that he’s not going to be with us for the remaining part of the season is obviously something that hurts us all.”

Unfortunately for Gustin, he has spent a bunch of time rehabbing from injuries during his time at USC. Gustin missed the start of this season due to an injury, and he may have missed some more playing time if the Pac-12 correctly called an obvious targeting call on him in a game against Washington State.

The loss of Gustin, one of USC’s top defensive players, could never come at a good time, but the injury comes at a critical time for the Trojans. Now in the position to take firm control of the Pac-12 South Division after a head-to-head win against Colorado, USC is heading on the road this week to play Utah. A win for USC will put the Trojans in the best spot in the division, while a loss leaves the door open for Utah to make their own run to the division crown.

Gustin was a watch list player for the Bednarik Award, Butkus Award, and Lott Trophy. Now, the injured senior will likely think about preparing for what comes next after this season, the NFL Draft.

USC’s Porter Gustin got away with obvious targeting against Washington State

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The targeting rule is one that routinely creates some confusion and ignites outrage over how it is officiated around college football, but sometimes there is a clear textbook example of the call that cannot be disputed. Late Friday night, one of those textbook examples was on full display, and it was completely ignored.

Late in USC’s 39-36 victory over Washington State, Porter Gustin launched himself into Cougars quarterback Gardner Minshew and made helmet-to-helmet contact. At the very least, the action should have been called for a late hit on the quarterback, but everything about this particular play was a clear targeting penalty that should have resulted in a 15-yard penalty and an automatic ejection from the game and the first half of USC’s next game.

As noted by Greg McElroy on the ESPN broadcast, Gustin missed the first half of last night’s game for a targeting foul the previous week at Texas, and yes, he should have been tossed from this game as well. No penalty flag was thrown on the play, which should be reviewed and addressed by the Pac-12 offices in the coming days.

It is impossible to suggest this missed call cost Washington State the game, but it did hurt their chances of winning. Had the call been correctly made, the Cougars would have moved the ball to the USC 10-yard line in the final minutes of the game. Instead, Washington State later resorted to trying a game-tying field goal from the 21-yard line, which was blocked. USC then ran out the clock after picking up a first down.

Butkus Award names 51 linebackers to 2018 watch list

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College football watch list season resumed Monday with the release of the Butkus Award and Jim Thorpe Award watch lists. The Butkus Award watch list named 51 linebackers to its preseason list, including players from 41 different schools.

This year’s watch list is highlighted by finalists for the 2017 Butkus Award in Devin Bush of Michigan and T.J. Edwards of Wisconsin. Josh Allen of Kentucky and Cameron Smith of USC are also on the list after being a semi-finalist last year. Former high school Butkus Award winners Caleb Kelly of Oklahoma and Dylan Moses of Alabama also were named to the list.

Alabama and Wisconsin lead the nation with three Butkus Award watch list players each. Ryan Connelly and Andrew Van Ginkel join Edwards of Wisconsin and Anfernee Jennings and Mack Wilson of Alabama are also included.

The list will be trimmed down to a list of semi-finalists on October 29 and then down to a smaller list of finalists on November 19. Georgia running back Roquan Smith won the award last year.

2018 Butkus Award Watch List

Curtis Akins, Memphis
Otaro Alaka, Texas A&M
Josh Allen, Kentucky
Jeffrey Allison, Fresno State
Azeez Al-Shaair, Florida Atlantic
Joe Bachie, Michigan State
Markus Bailey, Purdue
Thomas Barber, Minnesota
Bryton Barr, Massachusetts
Tevis Bartlett, Washington
Devin Bush, Michigan
Josh Buss, Montana
Te’von Coney, Notre Dame
Ryan Connelly, Wisconsin
Deshaun Davis, Auburn
Troy Dye, Oregon
Koa Farmer, Penn State
Paddy Fisher, Northwestern
Joe Giles-Harris, Duke
Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas
Porter Gustin, USC
Nate Hall, Northwestern
Terez Hall, Missouri
Terrill Hanks, New Mexico State
Darius Harris, Middle Tennessee
De’Jon Harris, Arkansas
Khalil Hodge, Buffalo
Justin Hollins, Oregon
Oluwaseun Idowu, Pitt
Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
Gary Johnson, Texas
Kendall Joseph, Clemson
Caleb Kelly, Oklahoma
Jordan Kunaszyk, California
Tre Lamar, Clemson
Dylan Moses, Alabama
Bobby Okereke, Stanford
Justin Phillips, Oklahoma State
Germaine Pratt, N.C. State
Shaq Quarterman, Miami
David Reese, Florida
Cameron Smith, USC
Ty Summers, TCU
Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii
Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame
Andrew Van Ginkel, Wisconsin
D’Andre Walker, Georgia
Devin White, LSU
Mack Wilson, Alabama
Juwon Young, Marshall

USC adds nation’s No. 1 ILB Porter Gustin to stellar Class of 2015

USC commit Porter Gustin. Photo: Rivals
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Get ready to start hearing arguments about USC being Linebacker U, because the Trojans have quite the stable of linebackers just in the Class of 2015 alone. A class that already included four-star talents Cameron Smith (an early enrollee, No. 7 inside linebacker in the nation) and Osa Masina (No. 3 outside linebacker in the nation) became just a little bit better Tuesday on the eve of National Signing Day.

Porter Gustin, a five-star recruit and the nation’s top-ranked inside linebacker according to Rivals, committed to USC at a live press conference at Salem Hills High School in Utah. Gustin chose USC over Ohio State and new Pac-12 rivals Arizona State and Utah. Gustin’s father, who made some opening comments before Porter announced his decision, said his son did not make a decision on where he was going until 3:15 a.m. mountain time today. Here’s hoping Gustin did not feel pressure to make the announcement and make the decision without giving it enough thought. Whatever the case, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian should be ecstatic about the class that is coming together for the Trojans.

USC is a traditional recruiting powerhouse and can usually have whatever top recruits out west it chooses. As things stand now USC trails only Alabama in the recruiting rankings, but the Trojans an amazing pool of talent joining the program. Of the 21 players currently committed to USC, 17 are four-star recruits. Gustin is the first and only five-star player on the board for right now. USC is in the mix for another five-star linebacker as well.

Outside linebacker John Houston of Gardena, California has USC in the top five heading to signing day, and USC was the destination for the last official visit (and only visit in January). Houston will announce his decision live on ESPNU at 2 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.

Photo credit: Rivals