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Breaking down USC’s 2021 recruiting class

Contributed to WeAreSC by bestlakersfan

As a whole, this class has to be deemed a success. We kept a number of the best players in California and Southern California home and went out and got a few players from out of state. In addition, this class has some really good talent coming in from the transfer portal. That said, we are still not fully back to the levels we had become accustomed to over the past 20 years or so. The offense and more specifically, the offensive line, continues to be a bit of a sore spot in recruiting. On the other side, the defensive staff put together a very, very good group of talent that will further enhance that side of the ball and allow some very good position coaches to have more talent to play with. The defense has multiple immediate impact players and even potentially some late-season starters, while the offense doesn’t seem to have any kids that will, at most, be partial contributors this year.

For purposes of this review, I will divide the class into three categories of recruits; 1) offense, 2) defense and 3) in-bound transfers. In total, we have 22 recruits and 4 incoming transfers, with the split of the total of 26 being exactly even; 13 on offense and 13 on defense.

Let’s tackle the offense first.

Offense (13 total players)

Quarterback (2)

Overall, we knocked this one out of the park. We got two excellent players to come in the same class at a position that desperately needs bodies in the program.

Miller Moss – Miller is an excellent prospect and one of the best quarterback recruits in the nation. The kid is one of the brightest, most mature and thoughtful kids around and that carries onto the field and locker room. He is a natural born leader and someone kids gravitate towards. As far as athletic ability, he is a very good passer in the short to medium range and has a smooth, quick release. He can elude pressure, but he is not a runner nor a true dual-threat type of quarterback.

Jaxson Dart – Did anyone have a better senior year than Jaxson? He absolutely crushed it and deserved all the recognition he got. Clearly there was a bit of coming together for him and, likely, a slowdown of the game, which can do wonders for a quarterback. A big kid with tremendous arm strength, he has the frame and athletic ability to become a very dangerous QB on the CFB level. While he is not the quickest kid, he can pass as a runner and will definitely be able to run in a game. That will bring a dimension to the game that we haven’t had in a long while. He will need to continue growing in the details of the game, but the future is very bright.

Running back (1)

This is a position , similar to QB, that we really needed a couple of bodies coming in as freshmen, but weren’t able to land multiple high school recruits.

Brandon Campbell – I really, really like BC’s game and think it will transfer very well to the CFB level. He is a tough, hard-nosed, one-cut runner who runs with purpose and power. While he isn’t the biggest back, his strength resides in his legs and that is something you can’t teach. He will need to improve short-area burst, being decisive and adding some upper-body strength. If things unfold well, he can become a multi-year starter and star in the backfield.

Wide receiver (3)

We probably got the right number of bodies in here, but there are no gamechangers in the bunch. It is a good group overall, but seeing the talent available in the class locally and regionally, we definitely struck out a bit.

Kyron Ware-Hudson – Kyron is a rock and one of the most sure-handed and physical wide receivers in the entire class. While he has solid size, the speed is a bit underwhelming and he likely won’t be outrunning many defensive backs. That said, if you need to move the rock and need someone who will go get the ball, this is your guy. He is a possession receiver through and through.

Michael Jackson – In some ways, Michael is similar to Kyron in that he is rock-solid in his build. But he is definitely a bit more bottom heavy, with extremely powerful legs. His burst is good, but the top-end speed is average for the position. He runs very good routes and can become a technician with more coaching up.

Joseph Manjack – While the “lowest rated” receiver, I think Manjack has the highest ceiling. He is a true football player. A really nice frame on him with good wingspan, Joseph has speed, size, ability and desire. He can become a YAC-machine and also knows how to high-point the ball. I could see him star at USC when he is an upperclassman. The intangibles are all there.

Tight end (2)

We got two good, but very different guys in this class. It’s a bit hard to evaluate this group simply because of how the tight ends are or are not used in our current offensive scheme.

Michael Trigg – For me, this is the best player we are getting on the offensive side of the ball. Michael is big, strong, fast and smooth. While he is not the prototypical tight end and doesn’t necessarily run-block well, the kid can catch. He lines-up well to be the next Drake London and it will be interesting to see how he is used. If he was three inches taller, he would be a top-25 player in the nation. Really excited to see how he grows, becomes stronger and develops in our program.

Lake McRee – Lake is much more a prototypical build for a tight end. His frame can probably hold another 30 pounds with ease which bodes well for him to play more on running downs and when an additional blocker is needed in the game. That said, he is definitely athletic enough and a very good pass-catcher, so he has the upside. This kid probably needs two years to develop physically before we can see what we get. That said, the size and ability is there for him to be able to contribute down the road.

Offensive line (3)

I would’ve really liked to have seen this be a class of 4-6 players, especially with some talent that could step in and at least push for playing time right away. No way to sugarcoat this, and it is not at all a commentary on the players we got, but this was a fail. There was some very good talent in the west this year on the offensive line and we missed on almost all of them.

Mason Murphy – I am very, very high on Mason. Had there been a normal season, I think Mason’s stock would’ve shot up very quickly. Mason has very good feet and technique. He plays smart, aggressive and through the whistle. His frame and wingspan can work at tackle, but could be elite at guard; think Alijah Vera-Tucker potential. He will be a multi-year starter.

Ty Buchanan – Ty is hard one to evaluate as there isn’t a ton of film on him. That said, he has a very good frame and could end up at tackle, but most likely will end up at guard. The one thing that jumps out is the kid has a nasty, aggressive streak and plays through the whistle, which I think is very important for an offensive lineman. He needs to probably add about 20-30 pounds, but his frame can hold it. The good thing with Ty is he is athletic and feels like a good “Air Raid style OL.”

Maximus Gibbs – Want to talk about big? Maximus is your man. I’m not even sure how a kid his age gets this big, but my oh my, he is a big man. With Maximus, things are straight forward. He needs to reshape his body, lose weight and add strength. His potential is actually very high, but the floor is very low. He is going to need to be committed for a solid two years, but if he puts his head down, this guy has a ton of potential. He is strong, a road-grader and had a very good frame to eventually become a tackle, but in order to do so, he is going to need to trim down by about 60-70 pounds. I project him as a right guard, and the inside of the line seems to be his destiny.

Defense (13)

Defensive line (3)

Well, there was one player we needed to get and we got him. The group brings three very different players in and addresses some needs.

Korey Foreman – Do I need to say much? Korey is a gamechanger. His stride, burst, length and quickness are on another level. What he brings to a defense literally changes the game. His pass-rushing ability will allow for fewer blitzes and more pressure for the defense. He is 3-year starter and will be a high draft pick. This is a huge get for USC at a position of NEED. I can’t say it enough, KF will change this defense.

Jay Toia – Jay projects to be your prototypical DT/NT. He has incredible punch and burst and can be a disrupter in both the run and pass game. He is going to need to improve his upper-body strength, but the kid is built like a tank and that means a lot for an interior defensive lineman. I project him to be a
multi-year starter and may even contribute by the end of his freshman year if we are hit with some injuries.

Colin Mobley – While Colin is listed as a defensive end, his future is most likely as a defensive tackle in the interior of the line. He has a projectable frame and plays aggressively. Where he needs some work and attention are on his initial burst as well as feet and getting the right leverage through technique. It’s evident that defensive line coach Vic So’oto likes him, and I trust him.

Linbacker (2)

This is an elite class, but I would’ve liked to have seen another body or two in this group. That said, we got the big fish in Raesjon Davis and also went and got a tremendous player in Julien Simon. Clearly, we are missing a big, thumping inside linebacker, but hopefully we can fill that in the next class.

Raesjon Davis – Another gamechanger for the defense. Rae is the blueprint for a modern linebacker. He is a thumper, can play the run, rush the passer and drop back into coverage. I think he plays the “B Backer” position for us and stays on the outside. While he has the ability to play as an inside linebacker, I think he is elite because of his lateral quickness and pass-rushing ability. He will be a multiyear starter and star.

Julien Simon – Want to watch some incredible game tape? Check out Simon’s tape. This kid is a superior athlete and can and will be used in a multitude of positions. I see a lot of Dion Bailey in him, but he is more athletically gifted than Dion. He will be a force off the edge and can easily drop back into coverage or play a similar role to what Talanoa played this year. Julien plays with power, speed and can bring some force. Love the upside and think he can become a star.

Cornerback (3)

Wow, just wow. We have elite talent coming in on every level on the secondary, and specifically in the cornerback position. We have speed, pure cover skills, size, athletic ability, etc.

Ceyair Wright – A true cover corner with elite athletics and size. Standing 6-foot-1, Ceyair has incredible length, which allows him to play both press and play off the line, because of his speed. He has some ball-hawking skills. I see him being a major contributor and pushing for a starting role as a true freshman.

Calen Bullock – I putting Calen here and Jaylin Smith as a safety, but both of these players can play either position. Calen is a ball hawk and seems to always be in on the play. He has very good size and length. If he ends up at safety, he needs a lot of bulking up that he needs to do, but if he stays at corner, then he just needs to add some muscle.

Prophet Brown – Man, I love this kid. He is just a different level of athlete in every way. He is a true difference-maker and I think with Donte coaching him, this kid is good enough to be a Jim Thorpe finalist and winner. Watch out for him in the return game as well, if, and I surely hope, the coaches let him have that role.

Safety (3)

Another defensive back position group and another extremely well-rounded and deep group. We got exactly what we needed and got quality at each level.

Anthony Beavers – This is a kid that can bring the wood. A physical specimen, Anthony has the potential to turn into an outside linebacker if he fills out. He has good speed and length, while also loving to hit. I believe he needs some coaching up, but has a tremendous amount of upside. Anthony really does read and diagnose very well and is always in on the play, usually making a tackle.

Xamarion Gordon – Here is a player that I personally think is severely underrated. Xamarion has an incredible frame and athletic ability. Similar to Beavers, but maybe even better, this kid can bring the boom. I think he blossoms into an incredible player and becomes a multi-year starter. While he may not see the field right away, outside of Prophet Brown, I believe he has the highest ceiling. Watch out for him.

Jaylin Smith – As mentioned above, Jaylin can easily fall into the cornerback class as opposed to be included in the safety class. Although smaller than your typical safety, this kid plays much bigger than his size. Smart player who reads and reacts very well and isn’t afraid to law the wood. I could see him turn into a nickelback, but do think he has really good upside because of his aggressive attitude.

Transfers (4)

We needed some talent to be infused and we got it. That said, it would’ve been huge to land an instant impact offensive lineman, especially a tackle. That said, we have done very well and could have one of the best incoming transfer classes in the nation.

Ishmael Sopsher – I am really, really excited about this kid. He is a mammoth interior lineman with tremendous upside. His issue has been a consistent drive and desire to be great on every snap. This kid can be amazing if he decides to be, it’s as simple as that. He has really good burst and punch off the
line and can absolutely bull rush and overwhelm an offensive lineman. I think he needs to shape up a bit, but the sky is the limit for him.

Xavion Alford – Xavion comes in with the rest of the safety class as a potential ready to contribute player. While he is a bit undersized, he can be impactful because of his ball-hawking skills. He needs to add some weight and strength, and I could see him become a nickelback.

K.D. Nixon – A very productive and reliable receiver, K.D. brings a different element to the wide receiver room. While he is smaller in stature, this kid is smart, runs great routes, is a technician and is shifty. Don’t expect him to put out huge numbers, but do expect him to make an impact.

Keaontay Ingram – While I like Ingram, I don’t see anything that is incredible about his game either. He is solid, decisive and can break a tackle, but he lacks top-end speed. His best ability might be catching the ball out of the backfield, which we don’t do enough of. I see him as a blend of Rojo (without the Tesla speed) and the current version of Carr. Great to have another player of this caliber, but we need to use the players in order for them to be useful.