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2014 USC Recruiting Class Analysis

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 7, 2013


2014 USC Trojans ... Head Coach: Steve Sarkisian


USC Trojans

2013 Record: 9-4
8/29 at Hawaii W 30-13
9/7 Wash State L 10-7
9/14 Boston Coll W 35-7
9/21 Utah State W 17-14
9/28 at Arizona State L 62-41
10/5 OPEN DATE
10/10 Arizona W 38-31
10/19 at Notre Dame L 14-10
10/26 Utah W 19-3
11/1 at Oregon State W 31-14
11/9 at California W 62-28
11/16 Stanford W 20-17
11/23 at Colorado W 47-29
11/30 UCLA L 35-14
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
12/21 Fresno State W 45-20


USC | The 2014 Recruiting Class

Team Concerns For 2014: Converting on third downs. The Trojans’ inability to extend drives was one of the many problems that plagued an offense that struggled to put together consecutive strong outings. Steve Sarkisian wants to unveil a balanced offense, one that’s capable of moving the sticks equally well on the ground as through the air. When USC finishes 97th nationally in third-down conversions, as it did in 2013, both sides of the ball are negatively impacted.

The 2014 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive backs. After a little bit of concern with the coaching change, now, all is right with the world. The 2015 USC class might be shaping up as something truly special, but Steve Sarkisian did okay on short notice stealing away safety Juju Smith from Oregon and nabbing corner Adoree Jackson as a part of an already good group of defensive backs with Jonathan Lockett and John Plattenburg coming in. Damien Mama is a 6-4, 370-pound guard who might be the best in the nation, and with fellow guards Viane Talamaivao and Toa Lobendahn, along with tackle Chris Brown, the O line is going to be special. Bryce Dixon is one of the top tight end recruits – 2015 super-recruit Ricky Town will someday love throwing to him.

2013 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 18. That Class Was Heavy On ... Really, really good players - but not a lot of bulk. The Trojans don't have a ton of offers to make, but the ones Lane Kiffin are getting are as good as any prospects in the country. It all starts with Max Browne, the No. 1 quarterback prospect bringing in size and NFL skills. Running backs Justin Davis and Ty Isaac are special, and receiver Steven Mitchell has the tools to be a special target. If Khaliel Rodgers out of Maryland isn't the best center prospect, he's in the top three, while defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow, safety Su'a Cravens and corner Chris Hawkins are all special. It was a rough morning on Signing Day, but getting linebacker Quinton Powell and offensive tackle Nico Falah made everything all better.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 16. That Class Was Heavy On ... The bull’s-eye. USC will be in everyone’s preseason top five, and maybe even No. 1 overall, but there’s part of the equation that recruiting experts are quick to point out: the effects of the sanctions are about to kick in. The program might have gotten through the storm, but the scholarship reduction part of the penalty is going to hurt even with a ton of players redshirted and waiting in the wings. Lane Kiffin can sign just 15 players in each of the next three seasons meaning there’s no margin for error whatsoever. Anyone being signed now has to be a starter at some point in the next few years, or else. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 6. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. Considering the limitations the Trojan coaching staff has to deal with, this was a phenomenal class with a little something for every spot. While it would’ve been a jaw-dropping haul had top corner DeAnthony Thomas not done an about face and picked Oregon at the last second, it’s still impressive thanks mostly to the defensive front. End Greg Townsend leads a fast, aggressive group of ends, while tackle Christian Heyward was a strong get out of San Diego. Offensively, the spotlight will be on the battle for the future starting quarterback spot between Max Wittek and Cody Kessler, while Amir Carlisle has all the makings of the next great Trojan running back.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 6. That Class Was Heavy On ... A Pete Carroll-like class. Lane Kiffin might not have gotten every player he wanted, but he sure came up with his share of star players to stop the bleeding. Dillon Baxter and D.J. Morgan are the type of do-it-all backs who can be like other star Trojan runners and play right away. Robert Woods might be the nation's No. 1 receiver recruit, and if he's not, Kyle Prater probably is. Xavier Gimble is one of the nation's top tight ends and Giovanni Di Poalo is one of the best centers, but the real prize is Seantrel Henderson ... maybe. One of the nation's top three all-around recruits, the sure-thing offensive tackle is waiting to make sure the NCAA isn't going to crush the Trojan program before officially signing on. JUCO transfers George Uko and linebacker Glen Stanley are ready to step in and start tomorrow, while the four defensive backs signed are strong enough to grow into starters down the road. In other words, don't assume USC is dead quite yet.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 5. That Class Was Heavy On ... defense. Ever wonder why the Trojans always have one of the toughest defenses in the country? This class will give you a hint. USC continued its annual tradition of loading up on some of the nation’s premier defenders, landing a top 10 player at each level on the field. S T.J. McDonald and DE Devon Kennard look as if they could move into the lineup from Day 1 if there wasn’t so much talent already ahead of them.

2013 Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
USC 45, Fresno State 20
Basically … USC dominated from the start as Cody Kessler threw four touchdown passes starting out with a ten-yard pass to Marqise Lee and two in the first half to Nelson Agholor from 40 and 17 yards out. A 24-yard Javorius Allen touchdown run and a 40-yard scoring play to Lee made it 35-6 Trojans going into halftime, and the game was essentially over. Fresno State came up with a 23-yard Davante Adams touchdown catch early in the second half, but the offense was flat all game long. The Bulldog D got on the board with a 41-yard Derron Smith pick six in the fourth.

- Fresno State’s high-powered offense was held to 254 total yards with Derek Carr throwing for just 217 yards on a 30-of-54 day with two touchdowns and a pick.
- USC QB Cody Kessler completed 22-of-30 passes for 344 yards and four touchdowns with a pick.
- USC WR Marqise Lee caught seven passes for 118 yards and two scores.
- Fresno State FS Derron Smith made 18 tackles with a pick for a touchdown.

UCLA 35, at USC 14
Basically … Brett Hundley ran for two scores and LB Myles Jack, DE Eddie Vanderdoes and Paul Perkins each ran for short scores as UCLA got up early and kept answering USC scores when needed. The Trojans got an 11-yard touchdown run from Javorius Allen and a 22-yard Xavier Grimble scoring grab in the third, but the Bruins D forced two turnovers and the O scored 14 unanswered points.
- UCLA QB Brett Hundley completed 18-of-27 passes for 208 yards and ran 13 times for 80 yards and two scores.
- USC RB Javorius Allen ran 20 times for 123 yards and a score.
- USC WR Marqise Lee caught six passes for 69 yards
- UCLA outgained USC 396 yards to 314

USC 47, at Colorado 29
Basically … USC didn’t mess around scoring the first 23 points of the game with Javorius Allen running for touchdowns from 12 yards and one yard away and Nelson Agholor catching a 20-yard scoring pass. Allen added a 23-yard touchdown run and Randall Telfer caught a ten-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. The Buffs were down 37-7 before the offense scored in the fourth quarter on a 38-yard Nelson Spruce catch. They pulled within 11 with just over three minutes to play on a five-yard Paul Richardson catch, but that would be as close as they’d get.
- USC RB Javorius Allen ran 21 times for 145 yards and three scores and caught three passes for 24 yards.
- Colorado QB Sefo Liufau completed 17-of-33 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns with a pick.
- Colorado WR Paul Richardson caught eight passes for 88 yards and a score.
- USC QB Cody Kessler completed 19-of-28 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

at USC 20, Stanford 17
Basically … Helped by a daring fourth down call, and a completion to Marqise Lee to keep the drive alive, USC capped it off with a 47-yard Andre Heidari field goal with 19 seconds to play for the win. Heidari also hit a 23-yarder in the second for a 17-7 USC lead, helped by one-yard touchdown runs from Soma Vainuku and Javorius Allen, but Stanford stayed in the game with Tyler Gaffney touchdown runs from 35 and 18 yards out. Three turnovers turned out to be a killer for the Cardinal.
- USC QB Cody Kessler completed 25-of-37 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown.
- Stanford RB Tyler Gaffney ran 24 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
- USC LB Anthony Sarao made 12 tackles with a forced fumble.
- Stanford LB Tyler Murphy made eight tackles with two sacks and four tackles for loss.

USC 62, at California 28
Basically … USC blew up for 21 first quarter points with Nelson Agholor returning a punt 75 yards for a touchdown, Silas Redd taking a pass 12 yards for a score, and Javorius Allen running for a 43-yard touchdown. Cal rallied a bit with 14 points on two Jared Goff touchdown passes, and then it was all Trojans with 35 straight points helped by Allen, who took a pass 57 yards for a score and ran 79 yards for a touchdown. Agholor returned a second punt for a score on a 93-yard play, and Josh Shaw returned a blocked kick for a touchdown.
- USC RB Javorius Allen ran six times for 135 yards and two scores. Cody Kessler completed 14-of-17 passes for 170 yards and two scores.
- California QB Jared Goff completed 34-of-48 passes for 255 yards and three scores.
- USC’s Nelson Agholor returned two punts for 168 yards and two scores, and he returned a kickoff 12 yards for a touchdown.
- 12 different Cal Bears caught passes. Kenny Lawler led the way with six catches for 54 yards and two scores.

USC 31 … at Oregon State 14
Basically … USC dominated the Beavers as Javorius Allen ran for 133 yards and three scores, and Marqise Lee came up with a 71-yard touchdown helping the Trojans to bowl eligibility. Oregon State tied it at 14 on a Brandin Cooks 27-yard touchdown catch and a 41-yard pick six by Ryan Murphy, but USC scored 17 unanswered points on two Allen scoring runs, highlighted by a 52-yarder, and Andre Heidari hit a 34-yard field goal.
- It wasn’t just Javorius Allen. He ran 16 times for 133 yards and three scores, but Silas Reed led the team with 140 yards on 22 carries.
- Sean Mannion completed just 26-of-45 passes for 277 yards and a score with three picks.
- Cody Kessler threw a pick six, but he completed 17-of-21 passes for 247 yards and a score. Marqise Lee caught five passes for 105 yards and a score.
- Oregon State had the ball for just under 24 minutes and was outgained on the ground 242 yards to 92.

at USC 19, Utah 3
Basically … Andre Heidari hit three field goals in the second quarter and one in the third, and Nelson Agholor caught a 30-yard touchdown pass as USC scored 19 unanswered points after Utah got on the board early in the first on a 42-yard Andy Phillips field goal. The Utes turned it over four times and managed just 201 yards of total offense.
- It might not have been pretty for the Trojans, but with no Marqise Lee and a depleted group of running backs, the O came through with enough points from Andre Heidari and a great game from the defense to come up with a key home win. Cody Kessler might not have pushed the ball down the field, but he completed 21-of-32 passes for 230 yards with a touchdown, and most importantly in a game like this with little offensive pop, no picks.
- Don’t dismiss just how important a bowl game will be to USC, and now it’s one win away. With California and Colorado still on the slate, now the post-season is a reality after a strong bounceback win after the Notre Dame loss. The offense is going to be a problem with all the injuries, but the defense continues to pick up the slack.

at Notre Dame 14, USC 10
Basically … Tommy Rees found Troy Niklas for a seven-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter and connected with TJ Jones on an 11-yard scoring play to take the lead for good late in the second quarter. And then the two defenses went to work. Rees was knocked out for the game with a reported neck injury, and USC’s Marqise Lee was out with a knee injury after catching two passes for 18 yards. Silas Redd ran for a one-yard touchdown to give USC the early lead, and a 22-yard Andre Heidari field goal took it back in the second, but that was it for the Trojan offense.
- Notre Dame will take the home win over USC no matter how ugly it was. Tommy Rees did a nice job completing 14-of-21 passes for 166 yards and two scores before getting knocked out. He didn’t give up any picks, and he did what he needed to do. Unfortunately, Andrew Hendrix struggled, missing on all four his passes in the fourth quarter and ran for just five yards.
- With 11 penalties and too many stalled drives, it wasn’t a good day from the USC offense. Cody Kessler was okay, but he didn’t throw any touchdown passes and he didn’t keep the chains moving. The O revolved around Silas Redd, who looked fresh running for 112 yards, but he couldn’t carry the Trojans in the second half.
- It’s going to be that kind of a year for the Trojans. It’s going to be inconsistent, and there are going to be times when things don’t work, but they’re fighting. This the first road game in a run of three away games in four weeks, and that makes the Utah game up next vital. USC will get to six wins, but it would be nice to get the fifth victory now.
- Stephon Tuitt is starting to step up his game. After a rocky first part of the season, he’s starting to be more active, and he came up with his best performance of the season with seven tackles with two sacks. Tuitt was great on the outside, and Louis Nix was Louis Nix in the interior, holding up, even with Silas Redd running well.

at USC 38, Arizona 31
Basically … USC got the win for interim head coach Ed Orgeron by hanging on late. Cody Kessler hit Nelson Agholor from 62 yards out and Tre Madden for a 63-yard score in the first quarter, and Justin Davis and Javorius Allen each ran for second quarter scores on the way to a 28-3 lead. But Arizona got back in the game by two long touchdown passes from B.J. Denker, and following a four-yard Allen touchdown run to give the Trojans a 38-17 lead, Denker was back on with a fantastic nine-yard touchdown pass to David Richards and a 28-yard scoring play to Garic Wharton with just over four minutes to play. USC was able to run out the clock.
- There seemed to be a different energy from the Trojans. Ed Orgeron appeared to get the team jacked up early on, and it showed with a pounding ground game and a terrific day from Cody Kessler, who threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns without Marqise Lee and almost no regular targets. Coach O got the win, and after all the drama, that’s all that mattered.
- It’s not like Arizona abandoned the run – Ka’Deem Carey ran for 138 yards – but It was the B.J. Denker show. He completed 28-of-44 passes for 363 yards and four score, spreading the ball around extremely well and rallying the team back.
- The Arizona read-option was fine, but USC DE Leonard Williams helped keep it under wraps with a team-leading 12 tackles with a half a sack. The Trojans made the Arizona offense turning things inside time and again.
- This was Nelson Agholor’s breakout moment. Arizona had to stop one guy, and it couldn’t do it. Agholor caught seven passes for 161 yards and a score. The passing game got a huge boost from the O line that kept Cody Kessler upright.

at Arizona State 62, USC 41
Basically … The game turned into a wild shootout in a hurry. Marion Grice scored four touchdowns and Taylor Kelly threw three touchdown passes as Arizona State came up with big play after big play against a beleaguered USC defense. Down 21-20 in the third quarter, ASU came up with 28 straight points starting out with a 74-yard touchdown catch from D.J. Foster. The Trojan offense finally started to move, with Tre Madden running for 128 yards and a touchdown, with true receiving scores, and Justin Davis running for 122 yards and three scores, but four turnovers were disastrous, hurt most by a 46-yard pick six from Alden Darby.
- USC looked absolutely demoralized after a good start. There wasn’t any quit, but the defense couldn’t come up with a key stop, getting torched on play after play, while the offense suffered a blow losing Marqise Lee to an apparent knee injury. Even so Cody Kessler had one of his better games, completing 20-of-29 passes for 295 yards and two scores.
- Will Marion Grice start getting a little bit of national respect soon? He was great against Wisconsin, and against USC he ran for 63 yards and two touchdowns and caught seven passes for 36 yards and two scores. He’s doing it all.
- Arizona State looked a half-step faster than USC. There’s no Trojan depth, but the Sun Devils were fresher and more explosive, even though the D gave up 542 yards. The offense came up with 612 yards with everything clicking in the second half.
- Where’s the USC pass rush? Arizona State came up with four sacks, but USC didn’t come up with any. Morgan Breslin made a few tackles for loss, but that was about it for the disruption. It’s going to take lots and lots of work for Lane Kiffin to get his D back for the Arizona game.

at USC 17, Utah State 14
Basically … In a defensive fight, Andre Heidari hit a 25-yard field goal to give the Trojans the lead early in the fourth, and the D hung on from there. Utah State came up with two Chuckie Keeton touchdown passes, but the offense stalled time and again in the second half with no rhythm to the attack. The Trojans scored first on a one-yard Tre Madden run, and got a 30-yard Xavier Grimble touchdown catch late in the second.
- Field position turned into everything. Utah State was able to come up with a few quirky plays, but the Trojans were able to tilt the field helped by a misfire on a missed fake punt attempt by the Aggies. Chuckie Keeton didn’t turn the ball over and he did what he could, completing 21-of-39 passes for 179 yards and two scores, but the team’s 11 penalties and lack of running game were a problem.
- Yuck. The USC defense is dealing – holding the high-powered Aggies to 285 yards – but the offense just can’t find anything that works down the field. Tre Madden ran for a workmanlike 93 yards and a score on 24 carries, but the attack came up with just 282 yards. Cody Kessler completed just 13-of-26 passes for 164 yards and a score.
- The Utah State linebacking corps of Jake Doughty and Zach Vigil combined for 24 tackles with Doughty coming up with a sack, while Kyler Fackrell had a nice day getting into the backfield with two sacks and a forced fumble.
- Again, the USC D. It’s unfortunate that the bad offense is overshadowing a special defense that’s not giving up much of anything. There was a nice pass rush from Morgan Breslen and the line, and the secondary didn’t give up deep plays, but the O just isn’t providing any consistent help.

at USC 35, Boston College 7, Sept. 14
Basically … USC got a nearly-flawless game out of its quarterbacks as Cody Kessler threw two touchdown passes with a five-yarder to Tre Madden and an 80-yard play to Marqise Lee. Madden and Justin Davis added second half touchdown runs for a 28-0 lead before Boston College finally got on the board with a 29-yard Tyler Rouse touchdown run.
- That was what USC needed out of its quarterbacks. Cody Kessler completed 15-of-17 passes for 237 yards and two scores, and Max Wittek hit both of his passes for 27 yards and ran for a score.
- The Boston College offense never had a chance against a geared up USC defense that’s playing fantastic. Chase Rettig couldn’t move the offense, and the defense couldn’t get off the field. USC’s offense was almost perfectly balanced, and the BC D couldn’t do anything to stop it.
- The ten USC penalties were a little much – BC committed just one sin – but everything else clicked.
- The one big positive for BC was the punting. Nick Freese averaged a whopping 50.4 yards per boot and put four inside the 20. Unfortunately, all that did was allow USC to gain more yards on longer drives.

Washington State 10, at USC 7, Sept. 7
Basically … USC scored first on a four-yard touchdown run from Cody Kessler, but that was it after the second quarter. Washington State turned the game around with a pick six with just 27 seconds left in the first half by Damante Horton. The Cougar offense did just enough late to set up Andrew Furney for a 41-yard field goal with just over three minutes to play, and then the D held on with a late pick to seal the win.
- This is going to be a bad, bad week for USC and Lane Kiffin. Not only can’t he find a starting quarterback, but he can’t get any production from an offense that averaged a pathetic 4.9 yards per completion and 193 yards of total offense. Tre Madden ran 32 times for 151 yards, but the passing game was awful.
-Connor Halliday held up under the pressure. There was no running game to help out the Cougar quarterback, and the USC line came up with four sacks with two from Morgan Breslin, but Halliday threw for 215 yards and generated the late winning drive.
- Washington State had a lot to do with Marqise Lee being held to 27 yards on seven carries, but the quarterbacks didn’t help. Cody Kessler completed 8-of-13 passes, but he didn’t get anything working down the field, while Max Wittek was awful completing just 3-of-8 passes for 13 yards and a pick.
- USC was bad, but give Washington State’s defensive line credit. The entire defense hit, and Daquawn Brown led the way with 11 tackles, in the defensive backfield, but it was the front four that held up and generated the pressure needed. The Cougars only came up with one sack, but they bothered the quarterbacks.

USC 30, at Hawaii 13, Aug. 29
Basically … It wasn’t pretty, but USC used this game like a true preseason tune-up. Hawaii got up 5-2 early, but the Trojans came up with 27 straight points helped by a 35-yard pick six from Josh Shaw and a 19-yard Cody Kessler touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor. Hawaii finally got in the end zone with 30 seconds to play on a 60-yard touchdown pass to Keith Kirkwood.
- And the answer to the USC quarterback situation is … ? There isn’t one. Cody Kessler completed 10-of-19 passes for 95 yards and a score with a pick, while Max Wittek completed 5-of-10 throws for 77 yards. The offense looked frustrated at times.
- Marqise Lee didn’t break out, but he came up with 104 yards on eight catches. With Silas Redd out, Tre Madden led all rushers with 19 carries for 109 yards.
- Hawaii couldn’t get into the end zone until the final moments, and it only finished with 23 rushing yards, but the offensive line generated a little bit of a push early on. The passing attack still didn’t click with Taylor Graham only connecting on 16-of-41 passes and with 60 of the 208 yards coming in the final minute.
- USC’s big problem? The offensive line. Hawaii cranked up nine tackles for loss and three sacks with Brenden Daley coming up with a huge day. He was camped out in the Trojan backfield.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … the Trojans still harbor talent … plenty of talent. For all of the caterwauling that’s taken place since the second half of last season, the roster is still brimming with former blue-chippers and future pros. Now the coaching staff just has to do a better job of maximizing the skills of those young players. USC took a step in the right direction when it replaced underachieving defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin with Clancy Pendergast, who’s coming off a successful three-year stint at Cal.

Why To Be Grouchy … the program is in a very fragile state as the 2013 season lurks out on the horizon. Lane Kiffin is firmly on the hot seat, the latest recruiting class missed the mark and last year’s 7-6 debacle is fresh on everyone’s mind. Plus, after failing to capitalize on Matt Barkley’s final season as an amateur, the Trojans are now forced to begin a pivotal time with a first-time full-timer calling signals. There’ll be immense pressure on this squad to rebound, while tuning out a cacophony of offseason noise.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … fixing the defense. Pendergast was hired to have an immediate impact on a collection of Trojans that fell way short of its overall potential in 2012. Troy has plenty of quality individual parts, like DE Morgan Breslin, DT Leonard Williams and LB Dion Bailey, which now have to be woven into a cohesive unit by the revamped staff. Drilling down on last fall’s team reveals a poorly-coached squad that needed a crash course in stopping the run and tackling in the open field.

Non-Conference Games: at Hawaii, Boston College, Utah State, at Notre Dame
Games Against The North: at California, at Oregon State, Stanford, Washington State
Realistic Best Case Record: 13-0
Worst Case Record: 7-6
Likely Finish: 11-2

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: at Hawaii, Washington State, Boston College, Utah State, at Arizona State, Arizona, Utah, at Oregon State, at California, Stanford, at Colorado

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Notre Dame, UCLA

Schedule Analysis: It’s a 13-game schedule starting out the year in late August with a nice trip to Hawaii to rest and relax before the Pac-12 seasons starts up. The Trojans come back to open up conference play against Washington State followed up by games against Boston College and Utah State which need to be dominant wins if they’re going to prove that things are different.

Missing Oregon and Washington from the North is a good break, and the schedule is just nice enough to potentially roll to a South title if all goes according to plan. Going to Arizona State won’t be easy, but it’s important with the only week off coming the week after before closing out with eight games in eight weeks. Going to Notre Dame starts out a run of three road trips in four weeks, but the away dates aren’t that ad going to Oregon State and Cal and having a late November game at Colorado. Stanford and UCLA are both at home.

Team Concerns For 2013: Can the Trojans get their mojo back? Even with Marqise Lee taking the opening kickoff against Hawaii for a touchdown, the team never played up to its potential or talent level. This year, the punt return game could stand to be better after averaging just six yards per pop, and Max Wittek has to prove he can be a real, live starting quarterback, but more than anything else, the Trojans have to stop screwing up after turning the ball over 34 times. Actually, more than anything else, the team needs the fire again to match the faux swagger.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Really, really good players - but not a lot of bulk. The Trojans don't have a ton of offers to make, but the ones Lane Kiffin are getting are as good as any prospects in the country. It all starts with Max Browne, the No. 1 quarterback prospect bringing in size and NFL skills. Running backs Justin Davis and Ty Isaac are special, and receiver Steven Mitchell has the tools to be a special target. If Khaliel Rodgers out of Maryland isn't the best center prospect, he's in the top three, while defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow, safety Su'a Cravens and corner Chris Hawkins are all special. It was a rough morning on Signing Day, but getting linebacker Quinton Powell and offensive tackle Nico Falah made everything all better.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 16. That Class Was Heavy On ... The bull’s-eye. USC will be in everyone’s preseason top five, and maybe even No. 1 overall, but there’s part of the equation that recruiting experts are quick to point out: the effects of the sanctions are about to kick in. The program might have gotten through the storm, but the scholarship reduction part of the penalty is going to hurt even with a ton of players redshirted and waiting in the wings. Lane Kiffin can sign just 15 players in each of the next three seasons meaning there’s no margin for error whatsoever. Anyone being signed now has to be a starter at some point in the next few years, or else. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 6. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. Considering the limitations the Trojan coaching staff has to deal with, this was a phenomenal class with a little something for every spot. While it would’ve been a jaw-dropping haul had top corner DeAnthony Thomas not done an about face and picked Oregon at the last second, it’s still impressive thanks mostly to the defensive front. End Greg Townsend leads a fast, aggressive group of ends, while tackle Christian Heyward was a strong get out of San Diego. Offensively, the spotlight will be on the battle for the future starting quarterback spot between Max Wittek and Cody Kessler, while Amir Carlisle has all the makings of the next great Trojan running back.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 6. That Class Was Heavy On ... A Pete Carroll-like class. Lane Kiffin might not have gotten every player he wanted, but he sure came up with his share of star players to stop the bleeding. Dillon Baxter and D.J. Morgan are the type of do-it-all backs who can be like other star Trojan runners and play right away. Robert Woods might be the nation's No. 1 receiver recruit, and if he's not, Kyle Prater probably is. Xavier Gimble is one of the nation's top tight ends and Giovanni Di Poalo is one of the best centers, but the real prize is Seantrel Henderson ... maybe. One of the nation's top three all-around recruits, the sure-thing offensive tackle is waiting to make sure the NCAA isn't going to crush the Trojan program before officially signing on. JUCO transfers George Uko and linebacker Glen Stanley are ready to step in and start tomorrow, while the four defensive backs signed are strong enough to grow into starters down the road. In other words, don't assume USC is dead quite yet.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 5. That Class Was Heavy On ... defense. Ever wonder why the Trojans always have one of the toughest defenses in the country? This class will give you a hint. USC continued its annual tradition of loading up on some of the nation’s premier defenders, landing a top 10 player at each level on the field. S T.J. McDonald and DE Devon Kennard look as if they could move into the lineup from Day 1 if there wasn’t so much talent already ahead of them.

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