By Scott Wolf
LOS ANGELES >> Former USC coach Pete Carroll used to give extra practice time to incoming freshmen the first week of training camp, in order to see how his prized recruits actually looked in person.
Sometimes players such as linebacker Brian Cushing or wide receiver Mike Williams would immediately emerge and make it easy to predict they could play a significant role. It was not a foolproof way to predict greatness, however, because Reggie Bush did not look like a star his first week.
If you believe USC is the No. 4 team in the nation this season, some freshmen will need to contribute immediately. Here are six players that stood out as training camp concluded its first week Saturday and might play roles this season.
Tailback Stephen Carr: He scored two touchdowns in Saturday’s scrimmage but that should be expected if he was ranked the No. 2 tailback in the nation. Clay Helton was asked if Carr could be the No. 2 tailback. The better question is whether he has a chance to start over Ronald Jones by the end of the season. The likely scenario is Jones starts but the pair split carries during games.
Carr’s advantage might be his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. It took LenDale White and Reggie Bush about four games to show flashes of what they could do in college. Carr should be able to do that in Game 1 against Western Michigan.
Nose tackle Marlon Tuipulotu: Coaches hate to say a true freshman will start but Tuipulotu’s been the best nose tackle since he participated in spring drills. He will probably share the spot because USC rotates defensive linemen but Tuipulotu would surprise no one around the program if he starts against Western Michigan.
Offensive tackle Austin Jackson: He is currently the third-string left tackle but is so athletic that it is hard to imagine he will not be in the rotation. Jackson should be the starting left tackle next season. If Toa Lobendahn gets hurt or needs to replace Nico Falah at center, Jackson is the long-term solution.
If you want a sign of his ability, Jackson weighs 300 pounds and ran the anchor leg for his high school’s 4 x 100-meter relay team last spring.
Wide receivers Randal Grimes and Joseph Lewis: No one would confuse them with any of the great USC receivers yet but Grimes is so tall (6-foot-5), he keeps making difficult catches of any high pass. With his muscular build, Lewis looks “like a fifth-year senior” according to safety Chris Hawkins.
In an ordinary year, they…