Wednesday’s National Signing Day marked the end of the college football recruiting period, and USC went big. The Trojans started the day outside of the top 10 in overall recruiting rankings, but that would change in a matter of hours.
The first decision of the day came from linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu at around 9:40 a.m. Tuliaupupu chose the Trojans over rivals UCLA and Notre Dame. The four-star product of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. is the fourth-ranked inside linebacker and 86th-ranked overall prospect in the nation according to 247sports.com.
At 6 feet, 2 inches and 220 pounds, Tuliaupupu won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker for his senior season. He will join five-star high school teammates wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and quarterback JT Daniels as Trojans next season.
The second and possibly most important commitment came from five-star cornerback Olaijah Griffin at around 10:30 a.m. The 6-foot, 170-pound prospect out of Mission Viejo High School established himself as one of the premier defensive backs in the class of 2018, earning his spot as 247Sports’ third-ranked corner and 28th-ranked player at any position. Griffin was picking between USC, Tennessee, Alabama and Oregon.
Griffin, the son of rapper Warren G, announced his decision on ESPN and celebrated with legendary USC linebacker Willie McGinest, his famous father and Snoop Dogg. As an instinctive and physical player, any production he gives as a freshman will be a massive gain for a Trojan defensive backfield that struggled mightily at times in 2017.
The Trojans continued their hot streak when four-star wide receiver Devon Williams picked USC over Oregon on ESPN. At 6 feet, 4 inches and 200 pounds, Williams is highly gifted, listed by ESPN as the number one athlete in his class. The product of Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, Calif. Williams is the sixth-ranked wide receiver and 40th-ranked player in 2018.
USC’s luck ended when four-star receiver/tight end Michael Ezeike chose UCLA around 1:30 p.m., and this continued when four-star offensive lineman Penei Sewell committed to Oregon 30 minutes later. Sewell’s decision was a particularly tough pill to swallow, as USC’s 24-7 Cotton Bowl loss to Ohio State proved the team needs to improve in the trenches.
However, the Trojans finished the day strong when four-star cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart committed to USC over Tennessee, Alabama and Texas A&M. The 6-foot-2-inch, 187-pound defensive back out of Helix Charter High School in San Diego made the announcement that he would be staying in Southern California via a livestream on his Instagram account. The additions of Taylor-Stuart and Griffin, both top-five cornerbacks according to 247Sports, set the Trojans up for a future of lockdown production on the outside.
The Trojans also added a few preferred walk-ons. Two-star receiver Zach Wilson of Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, AZ, tweeted his commitment around 9:10 a.m. Twenty-five minutes later, safety Jordan McMillan of Loyola High School tweeted he would be living out his dream and joining USC.
Four players who had previously committed to USC signed their letters of intent on Wednesday. Along with St. Brown and Daniels, four-star linebacker Eli’jah Winston and four-star defensive lineman Trevor Trout confirmed that they will be Trojans next season. Winston tweeted his decision to flip from Oregon to USC on Tuesday, while Trout announced his commitment back in November.
Including early signees from December, the Trojans’ current 2018 recruiting class includes 18 players, two of whom are preferred walk-ons. Head coach Clay Helton will have a lot of talent to work with from this group, especially with multiple big names at linebacker, receiver and cornerback. USC finishes with six recruits ranked in the top 40 of the 247Sports composite. In addition, the Trojans earned the commitments of 247Sports’ top four California prospects, five of the top six and seven of the top 11.
USC jumped to fourth in 247Sports’ team recruiting rankings, finishing with four five-stars players, 13 four-stars and one three-star. Tied with Georgia for the second-best average rating per recruit, USC can expect great things from a stacked class in the future.