After one of the last conditioning sessions Thursday before USC takes to Howard Jones field next week to kick off spring ball, Anthony Brown talked about what he must do.
The secondary, once the positional home of leaders Nickell Robey and T.J. McDonald, lacks those two players and is without an entrenched starter. But the redshirt junior from Rialto is looking to do his part by elevating his game.
"[Robey and McDonald] are great players, and watching under them, watching them be leaders, at practice, every day, going hard, I have to do that," Brown says. "It's my time to step up. So I'm out here, following those guys' footsteps."
Brown's unit will feature a new coach in Clancy Pendergast, the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, replacing the fired Marvin Sanders. Brown has already warmed up to the former California DC.
"I love [Clancy]," he says. "The defense we're installing right now is what I'm made of: There's a lot of press, lot of man - that's what I like. The defense is really good. I just love the guy."
With spring camp looming, Brown looks to better his skills playing the ball.
"That's gonna be a big part this year because there's a lot of man," he explains. "I gotta be able to play the ball. Me playing the ball will increase my IQ."
Despite the departure of Robey and McDonald, the defensive backfield isn't bare with the addition of highly touted freshmen Leon McQuay and Chris Hawkins, both of whom Brown describes as quick with good footwork.
"All the DBs are athletes," he says. "Everyone's a competitor."
Will Robinson is a USC Communications major and senior sports editor for Neon Tommy and a writer for Conquest Chronicles. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.