Redshirt sophomore linebacker Jabari Ruffin is poised to start at the SAM linebacker spot for the Trojans. He starts off USC fall camp with plenty of optimism about his preparation for the season.
"Practice is going well," Ruffin said. "It felt good to be back with the team and the defense, going over what we did in camp and installing the new defense. So, overall, I felt like it was good being out with the guys and flying around with that energy."
Ruffin is competing with and working alongside sophomore Quinton Powell at the strong side outside linebacker spot.
"It has been good," Ruffin said. "We have both been out there. Quinton was doing his thing, I was doing my thing, and we were helping each other out. I felt like these days went well as far as us two and our performance."
Both Ruffin, Powell and the rest of the linebackers are leaning from former Tennessee Titan linebacker Peter Sirmon.
"He is great," Ruffin said. "Coach Sirmon is a technician. He's going to pay attention to detail, which makes you a good football player. He himself was a good football player, so it's good to go out, see what new stuff he has for us, and learn techniques to work on because it's always effective."
Over the summer Ruffin stepped up as one of the leaders of the player-run practices. All of the work put in during June and July is now paying off in August.
"Yeah, yeah," Ruffin said. "That was just kinda to keep our minds focused on the defenses, keep us from getting rusty, and to focus on the mental aspect of it. I feel like the player-run practices (PRP) did a ton to help."
Backing up Ruffin and Powell is true freshman Ucenna Nwosu who has been learning as much as he can from his veteran teammates.
"It's been good," Ruffin said. "I've been out there working with him. You know, like they say, 'the best way to learn is by teaching.' I've been working with him and we've both just been going in with a good attitude and we're ready to ball out."
The Trojans kick the season off hosting Fresno State at the Coliseum on August 30.
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Ryan Abraham has been the publisher of USCFootball.com since 1996. You can follow him on Twitter at @InsideTroy.