JC transfer rounds out USC’s spring enrollees

Claude Pelon, a 6-foot-5, 285-lb. defensive lineman, has enrolled at USC, becoming the last of five early enrollees for the 2014-15 football season.

Pelon is transferring from Mesa Community College in Mesa, Ariz., where he recorded 52 tackles last year in addition to two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Pelon committed to the Trojans in December and was set to enroll at USC at the beginning of this semester, but had to handle his academic affairs before transferring.

Pelon received offers from reigning national champion Florida State, Nebraska, California, Baylor, Arizona, Arizona State, Washington and a number of other schools before choosing USC. The Orlando, Fla. native said he was close to committing to Washington, where USC’s new football coach, Steve Sarkisian, used to serve as head coach. USC’s hire of Sarkisian convinced Pelon to commit to the Trojans.

Pelon will add to USC’s impressive crop of talent out of Florida. Many of the Trojans’ top players were recruited from the Sunshine State, including junior wide receiver Nelson Agholor and redshirt junior tailback Javorius Allen, who each had standout seasons last year.

Pelon’s relationship with All-American junior defensive end Leonard Williams, a Daytona, Fla. native, also reportedly influenced his decision.

Pelon will join four other early enrollees in spring practice. These include offensive lineman Jordan Austin from Claremont, Calif., quarterback Jalen Greene from Gardena, Calif., outside linebacker/defensive end Don Hill from Boise, Idaho and offensive lineman Toa Lobendahn from La Habra, Calif.

USC’s spring enrollees have typically fared well in their first seasons.

Freshman safety Su’a Cravens, who entered spring practice early last year, netted four interceptions, 53 tackles and two forced fumbles in his first season with the Trojans, earning him Freshman All-American honors.

Justin Davis’ early enrollment last year prepared him for a breakout freshman season. Before sustaining a season-ending ankle injury, the Stockton, Calif. native rushed for 361 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 51.6 yards per game.

Of course, not all spring enrollees see the field in their freshman season. Last year’s most high-profile early enrollee was quarterback Max Browne, the Gatorade National Player of the Year out of Sammamish, Wash. Despite his accolades, Browne was left out of the quarterback race last season, but is expected to battle for the starting spot next year.

With the departure of redshirt junior defensive end George Uko and senior outside linebacker Morgan Breslin, Pelon has a chance to be part of an intimidating tandem at defensive end with Williams. Hill, who has alternated between defensive end and outside linebacker, also has a shot at strengthening USC’s vaunted front seven. Meanwhile, offensive tackle  Kevin Graf’s graduation leaves a spot open for Austin or Lobendahn. Greene faces steep odds, competing with Browne and redshirt juniors Cody Kessler and Max Wittek for the starting position at quarterback.

USC begins spring practice on March 11.