USC moved to No. 1 in ESPN’s Top-25 Preseason Poll, released Monday. Previously ranked No. 2, USC ousted LSU from the No. 1 spot.
With a solid recruiting class, featuring three five-star athletes, the Trojans went for quality rather than quantity on their way to next season. The Trojans’ national signing day results made heads across the country turn.
Recruits like wide receiver Nelson Agholor, defensive back Devian Shelton and defensive end Leonard Williams boosted the caliber of this year’s class of 15 recruits, adding depth to a relatively small number of incoming players.
The three five-stars, Agholor and offensive linemen Zach Banner and Jordan Simmons, will be crucial in ensuring a strong offense, something USC worked on steadily last season.
The Trojans average a star rating of 4.07, according to Rivals.com.
Regardless of the scholarship restrictions that went into place this recruitment cycle, USC remained appealing to some of the top players in the country — 10 four-star players were among the 15 total recruits.
Though seven months still remain before the team’s season opener, the poll indicated USC’s nine returners on the offense and defense, combined with strong new recruits, puts it in a spot to compete for the BCS national championship title.
With the return of junior quarterback Matt Barkley and junior wide receiver T.J. McDonald and the arrival of new players, things are certainly looking up for a team that was unable to compete in bowl games for the last two seasons.
Polling right behind USC are the Alabama, Louisiana State University and Oklahoma. USC is the only Pac-12 team ranked in the top five, with Oregon ranked No. 6 and Stanford at No. 13.
The Trojans will begin spring practice on March 6. They are set to play six away games and six home games next season, beginning with Hawaii on September 1.