Joe Schmidt is “quietly confident” tighthead prop Mike Ross will be fit in time to ease Ireland’s front-row injury crisis against South Africa. Press Association Ireland will launch their three-Test Guinness series against South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, November 8, without at least 15 regulars missing through injury. James Cronin will miss the entire series with ankle trouble, compounding loosehead prop resources and adding to Jack McGrath’s workload with Cian Healy a long-term absentee. Schmidt admitted he had to resist the temptation to pull the likes of Ah You and Archer out of club action this weekend, believing they must sharpen up ahead of potential Test action. “Obviously Rodney Ah You is playing for Connacht against the Ospreys, and Stephen Archer will have some time at Munster,” he said. “Tadhg Furlong will play for Leinster and Declan Fitzpatrick for Ulster, those are our other options. “It’s a catch-22, because Nathan White was the starting prop at Connacht and has really dominated the starting time (and) Rodney needs the game time. “Tadhg Furlong certainly needs to play; he’s been sat behind Michael Bent. “Declan Fitzpatrick has been massively underplayed because he’s had a succession of injuries and Stephen Archer the same. “So it’s not a lot of rugby for those guys in the last two weeks to then have a week off and go into a Test match, it would be pretty difficult. “So we’re just going to hold our breath and hope that those guys come through okay and that we’ll have some options live from that group.” Stephen Archer and Rodney Ah You are standing by to cover Ross from the bench, but the duo boast just three caps and no Test starts between them. Schmidt lamented the “catch-22” of sending undercooked Archer, Ah You and further tightheads Declan Fitzpatrick and Tadhg Furlong into provincial action this weekend just a week away from facing the Springboks. “Nathan White sustained some tendon damage in his biceps in an incredibly innocuous event, but a frustrating one for both him and us,” said Schmidt of the Connacht prop now sidelined for 16 weeks. “He just caught a player running past him, and it was just the angle, just the way it happened; it’s just one of those things. “Mike Ross is progressing pretty well, so we are quietly confident. He’s taken part in some of the more static aspects of training. And he involves himself in some of the more static aspects of the game, so hopefully he comes through and can be involved in some of those. “Absolutely it’s a concern (that Ross has not played for a month). But Mike has been working really hard, in his defence. “There’s nothing like game conditions though, to bring game awareness. You want guys to have had that; you want it to be second nature, what they are doing. “If it was a perfect world things might different but you work in the world that’s available to you, and I’d still say it’s an incredibly exciting challenge to play one of the form teams in the world, and certainly one of the top-ranked.” Ireland boss Schmidt conceded it is a worry Ross has not featured in a month through groin trouble, but still backed the 34-year-old to cope against the Springboks next weekend. Connacht tighthead Nathan White had been lined up for his Test debut against South Africa, but suffered biceps tendon damage in a training clash on Thursday.
Former USC quarterback Sam Darnold steps back in the pocket to throw a pass at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Emily Smith | Daily Trojan)USC continued its annual tradition of sending multiple players to the NFL, with four Trojans selected in the 2018 Draft and others signed to teams as undrafted free agents. With this year’s four draft picks, the Trojans have had 504 players drafted into the league, the most of any school in the country. Here’s a look at this year’s Trojan draft class and the undrafted free agents with a chance to make an impact on NFL rosters this season.QB Sam DarnoldRound 1, Pick 3 Overall New York JetsThe Rose Bowl winning signal caller will begin his NFL career in the Big Apple, looking to turn around a Jets team that went a 10-22 over the last two years. Though he was picked to be their quarterback of the future, he’ll have to fight for the opportunity to start Week 1 of the season, as he’ll compete with veteran quarterbacks Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater for that chance. Darnold has performed fairly well so far through two preseason games, going 21-of-29 passing for 158 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Although Bridgewater and McCown have played well to this point, reports suggest that the team might be leaning toward letting the former Trojan start under center Week 1.RB Ronald Jones IIRound 2, Pick 38 OverallTampa Bay Buccaneers Jones was the fourth running back selected in this years draft, going to a Bucs team desperately in need of playmaking from the tailback position. So far, Jones has ceded the starting role to Payton Barber, but has shared some of the first team work with him. Jones has struggled thus far in the offseason, with reports of trouble in pass protection and ball security, as well as subpar performances in the two preseason games to date. Jones is still a uniquely talented player, and the Buccaneers use of a second round pick on him shows the faith they have in him to be a dynamic part of their offense. If he can flip the switch soon, he has the opportunity to have a big year down in Tampa.OLB Uchenna Nwosu Round 2, Pick 48 Overall Los Angeles ChargersThe edge rusher had a huge season for the Trojans last year, serving as a terror to opposing quarterbacks with 9.5 sacks and 14 pass breakups. His production earned him a high draft spot from the Chargers, with whom he’ll be able to play in his home city of Carson, Calif. The Chargers add Nwosu to a front seven already featuring Pro-Bowlers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, a fact that should open up plenty of opportunities for the ex-Trojan as a pass-rusher. He’s impressed so far through the offseason, drawing rave reviews from coaches and teammates, and has done well in the preseason, securing a sack in his first game and adding a number of quarterback pressures in both his performances.DE Rasheem GreenRound 3, Pick 79 Overall Seattle SeahawksSomewhat an enigma of a prospect, projected everywhere from the first to the fourth round during the pre-draft process, Rasheem Green has probably gotten off to the hottest start of all the Trojans entering the league this year. Through two preseason contests, Green has racked up an impressive three sacks, 13 tackles and seven quarterback hits. The Seahawks are in desperate need of players to step up on the defensive line after the departures of Pro-Bowlers Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson and Cliff Avril this year. If Green continues to maintain his stellar level of play through the season, he’ll make a huge difference for a reloading Seahawks defense.WR Deontay BurnettUndrafted Free Agent Tennessee TitansOne of the bigger surprises of this year’s draft for the Trojans was Burnett going undrafted after a year, where he led the Trojans in receiving, posting an impressive statline of 1,114 yards and 9 touchdowns. He seems to have been a steal so far for the Titans, who lack strong options at the wide receiver position. Burnett has performed remarkably well so far for the Titans in training camp, developing a strong chemistry with quarterback Marcus Mariota as well as showcasing great route running and hands. He’s been nagged by some injuries in the preseason so far, but managed to make some nice plays in the last game. Look for him to potentially become an important part of Tennessee’s passing attack.WR Steven MitchellUndrafted Free Agent Los Angeles RamsMitchell went undrafted after another unspectacular but solid season at USC, finding an opportunity to play in the Coliseum once more as an undrafted free agent for the Rams. He’s impressed his coaches so far, and has made some nice plays throughout training camp and the preseason. On a team lacking any real wide receiver depth, Mitchell has a chance to make the roster or practice squad this year. He’ll be fighting to get a spot on the team’s final 53-man roster over the next few weeks.