In USC’s final recruiting weekend, potential recruits tight end Devin Asiasi, safety Jamel Cook, kicker Quinn Nordin, defensive tackle Boss Tagaloa and wide receiver Keyshawn Young all made official visits to Troy, further complicating the USC recruiting situation.
Considering the Trojans have just seven of their 20 scholarships left to give, the competition is getting more heated as football’s national signing day is on Wednesday.
However, a clear distinction must be made between those players who have officially signed on to play for USC and those who have verbally committed. Verbal commits are likely to sign with USC but can change their decisions if they so decide.
As it stands right now, USC has 13 total commitments, with seven of those 13 officially signing with the University, including defensive end Wole Betiku, quarterback Matt Fink, wide receivers Josh Imatorbhebhe and Michael Pittman, defensive end Liam Jimmons, defensive back C.J. Pollard and offensive lineman Nathan Smith.
Of those who have verbally committed but not signed, are tight end Cary Angeline, linebacker Joseph Iosefa, offensive lineman Frank Martin II and wide receivers Velus Jones Jr., Trevon Sidney and Tyler Vaughns.
Current USC recruit Velus Jones is a prime example of players who are verbally committed but retract their commitments due to a change of heart. Originally, the four-star wideout stated his intent to be a Trojan last spring, then retracted and committed to the University of Oklahoma before finally stating on Twitter his final commitment to USC.
Throwing a further wrench into USC’s recruiting in 2016 could be Clay Helton’s newly-created coaching staff featuring Clancy Pendergast (defensive coordinator), Tyson Helton (quarterbacks and passing game coordinator), John Baxter (special teams coordinator/tight ends), Johnny Nansen (linebackers), Ronnie Bradford (secondary), Neil Callaway (offensive line), Tee Martin (offensive coordinator/wide receivers), Tommie Robinson (running backs) and Keneche Udeze (defensive line).
ESPN columnist Greg Katz wrote in his latest blog post about the advantages and disadvantages associated with Helton’s latest hirings.
“To put it bluntly, the new faces on Helton’s staff have been given very little time to do what normally takes a high school lifetime to make recruiting inroads,” Katz wrote. “The good news, however, is that some of the holdovers from Helton’s staff are considered outstanding recruiters.”
With eight four-star recruits already committed, the Trojans’ 2016 recruiting class is ranked 34th by Rivals.com and is tied for seventh with nine ESPN Top 300 recruits committed.
In terms of recruits who have interest in joining USC this fall, the Trojans have a multitude of top athletes interested, including some who have committed via social media but are not officially signed until Wednesday.
On Monday, blue chip kicker Michael Brown announced his commitment to USC via Twitter despite reports that another blue chip kicker, Quinn Nordin, decommitted from Penn State and visited USC’s campus this past weekend.
Considering Alex Wood completed just 13 of his 17 field goal attempts in 2015, including 9-for-12 from inside 40 yards, a new place kicker could be exactly what the Trojans need.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, despite No. 1 overall recruit Rashan Gary visiting and expressing potential interest in becoming a Trojan, Gary has whittled his college list down to the Michigan Wolverines and the College Football Playoff Runner-Up Clemson Tigers.
As for the other potential recruits who have yet to commit or sign letters of intent, the Trojans are in the running for multiple top-tier prospects.
Five-star Long Beach Poly cornerback Jack Jones. Jones has received offers from many top schools, but is considering Arizona, Arizona State, Alabama, Texas A&M and USC. The Los Angeles Times reported that USC was among Jones’ final three schools along with Texas A&M and Alabama.
Of the five players that visited USC this past weekend, the most exciting is tight end Devin Asiasi who is a big, physical tight end who adds another level of versatility to the Trojans’ offense.
In review, USC’s top recruits are defensive linemen Jonathan Kongbo III from Arizona Western; Connor Murphy from Brophy Preparatory in Phoenix, AZ; Maxs Tupai from Murray, Utah; Boss Tagaloa from Concord De La Salle in Concord, California; defensive back Jamel Cook from Miami Central, Florida; and tight end Devin Asiasi from De La Salle.
In response to whether or not USC will have recruits to fill up the final seven scholarship spots, Los Angeles Times writer Lindsey Thiry wrote, “It seems unlikely, unless there are a few players who have been told by coaches that they can commit if there is room available at the end of signing day. USC is in good position for Long Beach Poly defensive back Jack Jones, but other than Jones, it seems to be anyone’s guess who will sign.”
Even though USC’s recruiting class is not as strong as it was in 2015, there are still several potentially valuable recruits in the 2016 class. The Trojans have solidified their offense for years to come with five receivers, a tight end, two offensive linemen and a dual threat quarterback in Matt Fink.
And while USC may have lost the Rashan Gary sweepstakes, the Trojans could be adding 20 potentially game-changing athletes ready to bring a national championship back to Los Angeles.