As Lane Kiffin tries to bounce back with the USC Trojans from a woefully disappointing 2012 season, he will need his defense to step up in a major way this fall. He’s changed defensive coordinators, dropping his dad Monte Kiffin for former Cal Bears DC Clancy Pendergrast who hopes to bring a more versatile and aggressive defensive approach to the Coliseum. One of the athletes who will help the Trojans get that done is true freshman safety Su’a Cravens.
Cravens was the highest rated prospect in Kiffin’s 2013 class and the No. 1 rated safety in the country. He enrolled early and participated in spring practice, taking significant reps with the first team defense. He is big, strong and fast with the athleticism to play at several different positions. Kiffin touts the freshman’s experience as a running back in high school for his mobility and awareness in getting to the ball to make a play. He has impressive ball skills and an instinct for going up and getting it while having the toughness to come down and lay the hammer in run support.
Pendergrast is going to love having that kind of versatility to play with. While he’s a bit undersized to take a lot of snaps as a linebacker, Cravens is athletic and strong enough to roll down from his safety spot in certain situations to add another body in the box. He will also add a dynamic force when he comes on the blitz and can drop in coverage from just about any level.
His path to the starting lineup is cleared out by USC’s continued scholarship reductions thinning out Kiffin’s options. Their lack of depth opens the door for young guys to step into starting roles and Cravens is poised to take control of it from the start and make a serious impact on the Pac 12 this fall.