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USC NOTEBOOK: FRESHMEN TO PUSH FOR STARTING JOBS.

Byline: Ramona Shelburne Staff Writer

USC released its end-of-the-spring depth chart Friday at noon and it had relevance until 4 p.m., when practice started and highly-touted incoming freshmen Thomas Herring and Eugene Germany showed up to watch practice in street clothes.

``It's going to be a push with those guys coming in,'' said Dallas Sartz, who was named the starter at strong-side linebacker but will face a strong challenge from freshmen Germany, Ryan Powdrell and Keith Rivers.

``We have a lot of good linebackers coming in, a lot of them have been hanging out during spring ball. You take the starting (job) with a grain of salt. One day it could be totally different.''

And at USC, which has quickly established a reputation for throwing freshmen into the mix, you almost have to assume several of the starting positions awarded Friday will eventually be held by incoming freshmen.

Center Ryan Kalil is also expected to face a strong challenge from a freshman. Jeff Byers, the Gatorade national player of the year, was listed third behind Kalil and Ross Burruel. USC coach Pete Carroll mentioned Byers by name several times when asked about the incoming freshman class.

--Wyatt gets nod: Justin Wyatt was awarded the starting spot at right cornerback ahead of sixth-year senior Kevin Arbet, who sat out spring practice to rest foot injuries.

--Holmes back to No. 1: After missing all of the 2003 season with an injured back, former Harvard-Westlake of Studio City star Alex Holmes is back as the starter at tight end. Holmes caught 29 passes for 320 yards as a starter in 2002.

Tight end is perhaps the Trojans' deepest position with Holmes, junior Dominique Byrd and senior Gregg Guenther all expected to contribute.

--Davis listed third: Highly-touted freshman Fred Davis, who graduated early to participate in spring practice, is listed third at split end behind Whitney Lewis and William Buchanon.

Steve Smith will be the starter at flanker, ahead of Chris McFoy, Jason Mitchell and Greig Carlson.

--Missing: Quarterback Matt Leinart rested a sore elbow and did not practice Thursday. Carroll said he expected him to play in today's scrimmage. ... Running backs LenDale White (groin) and Hershel Dennis (academic conflict) also did not practice. ... Sartz sat out with a virus but said he expected to play today.

Ramona Shelburne, (818) 713-3617

ramona.shelburne(at)dailynews.com

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ALEX HOLMES

Tight end is No. 1 on the depth chart despite missing all of last season.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 10, 2004
Words:414
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