by Garry Paskwietz
With the first big recruiting weekend of the Helton regime in full swing, here’s a look at the top position priorities for the remaining spots in the class.
Defensive line: The big fish in this equation is obviously Oluwole Betiku, the Serra defensive end who is on campus this weekend for an official visit after a successful visit with the USC coaches earlier in the week. There’s a nice base established on the line if the Trojans can keep the trio of Keyshon Camp, Keanu Salepaga (photo above) and Liam Jimmons, but the potential addition of Betiku would obviously take things up a notch and there’s a lot of momentum blowing in the rumor mill for the Trojans right now. And taking five defensive linemen is not out of the question at all with long shots like Antwuan Jackson and Rashan Gary still giving SC a look.
Linebacker: There’s really only one name I’m thinking about here and that’s because Mique Juarez is that much of a potential swing recruit. If the Trojans can bring him back in the fold, the linebacker class is a success no matter what. If not, it would be hard to make up the loss no matter who else is brought in. That’s how talented he is.
Cornerback: It’s a little nerve-wracking to be sitting here at this point in the recruiting process with no cornerback commits. I understand there is always the chance Trevon Sidney could end up at corner, and I actually would be happy with that, but there is a real need for at least two corners so that means there is work to be done. It says something that USC would make a late offer and get an immediate visit from Troy Warner, the BYU commit. The Cougars just lost their coach and, while his brother Fred is there, Fred also showed interest in USC during his recruitment so the family knows the Trojan program. The key player, in my opinion, is Jackie Jones. He’s just such a talent, and he is one of those guys who could also play receiver so you have flexibility with him and Sidney to put one on each side of the ball as needed. And while Jackie is certainly enjoying the recruiting dance, I still think when all is said and done he will be a Trojan.
Tight end: It will be real interesting to see if the Trojans take another tight end in the class. Cary Angeline has been a low-key guy during recruiting but his production has been impressive as a pass-catching option. But you can make a strong argument that there is a need for a second player at the position and there hasn’t been a lot of scuttlebutt about the presumed next guy on the wish list in Devin Asiasi. That is typical with DeLaSalle players during recruiting, they tend to not do as much recruiting stuff during the season on their annual run to the state playoffs, and this year is no exception. You can expect Asiasi to be one of the centers of attention during the all-american bowl practices for updates.
Wide receiver: It’s not that there is a need to go out and add any more bodies, it’s just making sure we keep those who are already committed. And I say that with the understanding that Velus Jones is making noise about other schools and that’s fine. I would be happy to have him but it wouldn’t be a great shock if he isn’t here by signing day. I’m mainly talking about the group of Josh Imatorbhebhe, Tyler Vaughns, Michael Pittman and Sidney. As mentioned above, I’m not even sure Sidney ends up at receiver but I’m certainly not ruling it out either. The other three, however, have a chance to be a special group. Each of them has shown signs of being a unique player, and there’s genuine reason to be excited about them coming in together. And that’s why it’s a priority to maintain their commitments, and not let anyone get poached.
Offensive line: I’ve been pretty content with the likelihood of the Trojans taking two offensive linemen in the class with Nathan Smith and Frank Martin, but I’ve always thought three would be a better number, which is why I was happy today to see that the coaches are tripping in E.J. Price from Georgia. Who knows what the chances are to land him, but at least it shows me the coaches have an interest in adding another lineman too. That’s just one spot where you always want to make sure you have enough good players.