Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor
There is plenty to be excited about in the upcoming year of USC football, and with spring ball underway the Trojans are discovering new and improved talent all across the field. Whether new to the roster or finally positioned for a starting role, this year's spring breakouts are ready to make a difference.
Year: Redshirt Sophomore
Position: Offensive Line
The Past: Banner's size has always been an area of concern and intrigue given his 6-foot-9, 345-pound frame. He was recruited heavily out of high school earning honors like ESPNU 150, SI.com All-American first team, USA Today All-USA first team, just to name a select few. Banner redshirted his freshman season, but then in 2013, the lineman served as the back-up offensive tackle seeing time in early season games against Hawaii and Boston College. Then, Banner spent the rest of the 2013 season sidelined with an injury when he discovered that he had a hip condition called FAI that would require surgery on both of his hips due to their abnormal shape.
The Present: It's been a long road to recovery for Banner as the two hip surgeries sidelined him for roughly five months. He's been working on regaining his strength but more importantly, Banner has devoted his full attention to working hard enough to earn a starting spot on an offensive line that has a lot of gaps to fill. Banner's transformation has been evident this spring from a big guy who showed a lot of potential, but struggled with execution, to a starting tackle candidate ready to contribute.
The Future: Banner still has a ways to go before he can establish himself as an elite offensive lineman but the strides he has made this spring have created excitement for a potential breakout season come fall. The 6-foot-9 offensive lineman must continue to improve his flexibility at the waist and in the knees in order to gain maximum leverage against opposing pass rushers. It's imperative that he masters the proper techniques since his size prevents him from moving the way smaller linemen do. Though he is physically healthy, he is not where he wants to be in terms of strength. Banner also just needs the game experience to boost his confidence, so he can put his hard work to the test, something he should get the opportunity to do come fall.
Sark on Banner: "He is a big man who is hard to run around, 6-foot-whatever he is, 350 some odd pounds. A lot of his future will center around his confidence continuing to grow. He's a very bright guy. He's physically gifted enough, it's just a matter of getting him knowing that he is capable of doing it. I think he's been showing that, especially in the past couple of days."
Here is Banner with our Caroline Deisley...