By Johnny Curren
With the Class of 2016 now in the books, here’s a look at where things stand for USC and the Class of 2017 in regard to the offensive side of the ball.
Offers: Tate Martell (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman), Shawn Robinson (Denton, Texas/John H. Guyer), Tua Tagovailoa (Honolulu, Hawaii/St. Louis)
Having just landed Matt Fink from the Class of 2016, and with a verbal pledge from Class of 2018 standout Matt Corral, USC will likely only take one quarterback in this next class. Tagovailoa emerged as the primary target last summer with former head coach Steve Sarkisian calling the shots, but with Clay Helton now in charge, and Tagovailoa still wide-open, it will be interesting to see if the Trojans now cast a wider net. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the staff make more of a run at Martell, a current Texas A&M commit whom USC was once heavily involved with. Some potential local names to keep an eye on include Tristan Gebbia, Tyler Lytle, Jack Sears and Arizona-commit Braxton Burmeister.
Commits: Stephen Carr (Fontana, Calif./Summit)
Offers: Salvon Ahmed (Kirkland, Wash./Juanita), Najee Harris (Antioch, Calif./Antioch), Christopher Henderson (Miami, Fla./Christopher Columbus), Bruce Jordan-Swilling (New Orleans, La./Brother Martin), Nathan Tilford (Ontario, Calif./Colony), Colin Wilson (Green Cove Springs, Fla./Clay)
In-state tailback prospects Carr and Harris are elite playmakers who are on everybody’s wish-list, and with a pledge from Carr already, USC is off to a great start here. With Carr still exploring his options, however, he has to be considered a soft commit, but it would be a surprise if he winds up anywhere else but USC in the end. Can USC possibly land Harris, currently committed to Alabama, as well? Helton and Co. are certainly trying. Tilford was first offered by USC as an eighth grader, so there is quite a history there. Ahmed is generally grouped into the athlete category, but his offer from the Trojans came immediately following his participation in the Rising Stars Camp last summer as a running back.
Commits: Marlon Williams (Mobile, Ala./McGill-Toolen)
Offers: Terrell Bynum (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Jerry Jeudy (Deerfield, Fla./Deerfield), Keyshawn Johnson Jr. (Calabasas, Calif./Calabasas), Joseph Lewis (Los Angeles, Calif./Augustus F. Hawkins), Tyjon Lindsey (Corona, Calif./Centennial), D.J. Matthews (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian), Donovan People-Jones (Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech), James Robinson IV (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland), Amari Rodgers (Knoxville, Tenn./ Knoxville Catholic), Derrick Smith (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian), Osiris St. Brown (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei)
USC loaded up with five wideouts from the Class of 2016, but with three seniors set to graduate, as well as JuJu Smith-Schuster’s potential early departure, expect the Trojans to take up to three receivers from the Class of 2017. Offensive Coordinator Tee Martin dipped into his home-state of Alabama to secure a verbal commitment from Williams to kick things off, and there is plenty of talent right in USC’s backyard as well, including standouts like Bynum, Johnson, Lewis, St. Brown and Lindsay, who just transferred to Centennial from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman.
Offers: Tyler Johnson (Gilbert, Ariz./Highland), Colby Parkinson (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), Logan Rudolph (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern)
With Cary Angeline serving as their most recent signee, the Trojans have started to build the tight end spot back up again, but depth at the position still isn’t quite ideal, so there’s little doubt that Helton and his staff would like to add one or two more players from the Class of 2017. Parkinson, possibly the top local prospect, is already committed to Stanford, so expect more offers to go out. Jimmy Jaggers (Roseville, Calif./Roseville) and Josh Falo (Sacramento, Calif./Inderkum) are two potential in-state tight end targets.
Offers: Jack Anderson (Frisco, Texas/Frisco), Calvin Ashley (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips), Henry Bainivalu (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline), Aaron Banks (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito), Wyatt Davis (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Austin Deculus (Cypress, Texas/Cy-Fair), Chuck Filiaga (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta), Austin Jackson (Phoenix, Ariz./North Canyon), Alex Leatherwood (Pensacola, Fla./Booker T. Washington), Kayden Lyles (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro), Jake Moretti (Arvada, Colo./Pomona), Foster Sarell (Graham, Wash./Graham-Kapowsin), Trey Smith (Jackson, Tenn./University School of Jackson), Alijah Vera-Tucker (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O’Dowd)
The Trojans have done a nice job of shoring up the offensive line with their past three signing hauls, but with Chad Wheeler and Zach Banner both heading into their senior campaigns, new offensive line coach Neil Callaway would obviously like to add more bodies, and plenty of offers have already gone out. With a number of out-of-state prospects included on that list, it will be worth watching to see if they can pull in another national star like they did with E.J. Price this past signing day. Closer to home, the Trojans have already been involved with standouts such as Davis and Filiaga for quite awhile, while Vera-Tucker was just offered recently. Other in-state prospects who could emerge as targets down the line include Brett Neilon (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic) and Kanan Ray (Chatsworth, Calif./Sierra Canyon).