2019 Recruiting Class Review (Long Read)

Discussion in 'Trojan Recruiting' started by bestlakersfan, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. 2019 Recruiting Class Review (Long Read)
    bestlakersfan

    bestlakersfan Junior Member


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    As promised, I’ve put together some thoughts, opinions and insights on our 2019 recruiting class. Overall, this class is clearly not on par with our standards at USC. With that said, there is definitely some very good talent in the group and some sleepers that I think many are overlooking. However, it is hard to not mention the lack of offensive linemen in this class. It is rare for the West to be loaded with talent at the OL position and 2019 definitely was. The issue is, our 2018 class was weak and small, we missed on the chance to “clean up” in the 2019 class and the 2020 class is on par, talent-wise, with 2018. Not good. The OL and DL win championships, PERIOD.


    Defense



    DL

    Drake Jackson – This kid is a force. Drake is an explosive athlete with drive and great power at the point of attack. He also shows very good force and is able to use his power to burst on the snap. This kid will be special and will contribute to the team for years. Love his upside, but even better, his floor is extremely high. He can stuff the run, read plays well and get after the QB. Essentially, he is an ideal DL.


    Dejon Benton – Dejon is a clear redshirt candidate. He has a good punch off the line, but he needs to add significant power to go along with more weight on his frame. If he can improve his technique, he could be a decent contributor a few years down the road, but I see him more along the lines of a run stopper that may contribute and be a rotation player as an upper-classman; think Malik Dorton.


    Nick Figueroa – An interesting pick-up for USC. Nick seemed like a player the coaches really wanted and went after HARD, even passing up the commitment from Jackson (another CC player) to get him. Nick has a great frame and a very solid motor. He has good technique, but needs to add to his list of moves, particularly better hand placement and use of hands. I’m not sure how great he will be at stopping the run, but should provide some very good pass-rushing ability.


    LB

    Ralen Goforth – Wow, what a senior year Ralen had. He was a borderline USC level prospect for me prior to his senior year, but he played incredibly well at Bosco during his last year there and now I’m very excited to have him in the class. He is a player and has a nose for the ball. Ralen plays with great instincts and is a very good tackler. Always seems to be in the right place at the right time. I’m curious to see where the coaches line him up, but I like him better on the inside because of his instincts. With that said, he moves very well side to side and does well dropping back in pass coverage. If he can add another 10-15 pounds, while keeping his speed, he could be special.


    Stanley Taufoo – First thing I can say is that this kid plays like his hair is on fire. Needless to say, he plays through the whistle and LOVES contact. He played multiple positions in HS and it will be interesting to see which position he ends up when all is said and done; could be an ILB, DE-rush specialist or even grow into a hybrid DE/DT. He will provide good depth and the will be a serviceable player. Lower floor, but if things click and he finds the best position for him (as his body grows) Stanley could become a big time player by his senior year.


    Maninoa Tufono – Like Stanley, Maninoa could easily grow into a DL when all is said and done. A physical player, he is also very sound in terms of tackling. The biggest knock for me is that he doesn’t seem to have great speed at all. With that said, this could be truly and solely related to conditioning and nutrition. If he can improve this aspect and gain some more speed, he will be very good as a true “Mike” backer. If it doesn’t, he will be depth at ILB or as a DE.


    Tuasivi Nomura – Count me as a fan. This kid can play. He is physical and plays through the whistle. Love his potential, but don’t love his frame. Standing at only 6’1”, I’m not sure that he can add a whole lot more weight (he’s 210 already) and still provide the burst and fire that makes his game. He is a tweener SS/LB and, like others mentioned above, it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up. I like him and I think he will end up starting at some point, either due to injury or by his senior year.


    DB

    Briton Allen – A kid who played as tough a schedule as possible while at IMG, he will be ready to play. Allen is extremely, extremely physical and has a nose for the ball. He played SS in HS, but unfortunately I don’t think he necessarily has the size to do so in college. I love his game and think he will contribute a lot because he is tough, aggressive and brings it. If he was 3 inches taller, he would’ve been a borderline 5-star kid. Love his game.


    Max Williams – Max could be one of my favorite local players this year and I am SO happy that he is a Trojan. He is the type of player where nothing may jump out at you in a camp setting, but put the pads on and he is one of the best cover corners in the West. He is not big or fast, but the kid can play. His senior season was cut short by injury, but if not for that, I think he would be a big-time contributor in his freshman season at corner for us. He is recovering well and is on campus as an EE and I’m excited to see if he can play a bit in the Spring, although I doubt it. I’m a big Max fan.


    Adonis Otey – Solid frame and good speed, just looks and plays like a corner. Adonis intrigues me a lot after watching a good amount of his film. Don’t love saying this, but I see him as a boom or bust candidate; high ceiling, but low floor. Adonis will need to improve his physicality (particularly tackling) and technique as a corner. He has the speed and ability as an athlete, but really needs to be coached up. Another thing I do like about him is he played both as a CB and as a WR. I tend to feel like kids who play both ways, especially in positions that are opposites, better understand how to play against that position. We’ll see what happens with him.


    Jaylen Watson – This is the more prototypical CB that USC has been trying to get in terms of height (he’s 6’2”) the past few years. Jaylen has very good ball skills and plays with some swag and cockiness, which is what you want as a CB… just not too much of it. I think he will contribute right off the bat and has a chance to be a starter in 2020. Good floor, but the ceiling isn’t too high.


    Jayden Williams – Here is a kid I love. I think he is one of the most underrated players in the West in 2019. Jayden is a damn good player and a very good corner/safety. If not for Drake and Foreman (he will be a 5-star and could push for top national player, IMO by the time he is a senior; he is a class of ’21 player) Jayden would’ve been the best player on defense for a very good Corona Centennial team. Jayden will likely play as a slot corner or a FS. He’s physical, has great feet, is smart, a ball-hawk, a plays with a good motor. Needless to say, I am very high on him.


    Kaulana Makaula – A relative unknown for a while, Makaula turned in a great week at the Polynesian Bowl and likely cemented his place with USC because of it. He has great size and is a ball-hawk. He played a lot of CB in HS, but I think he ends up as a SS in college. Speed is good, but not impressive. He needs to work on technique and getting a bit more fluid with his hips, but his desire to make plays and physicality should translate well.


    Trey Davis – Trey is a good player and has very good speed, but this take, from the start, was a head scratcher to me. I’m not convinced that he has USC level talent. We’ll see what happens, but this has Godfrey part II written all over for me.


    Dorian Hewett – Dorian played both as a CB and S in HS, but I think he projects better as a safety. He is very instinctual, smart and is always around the ball. Solid speed and good frame, but he is going to need to add some muscle and his body just needs to mature some. I like this take, but we may need to wait a few years before seeing him make any kind of contributions.


    Overall Defensive Recruiting Thoughts

    Outside of Jackson and Goforth, there are a lot of depth guys in here. Some will become very good, but there is no doubt that this defensive class is missing some high-end guys. Defensive line is thin, even considering some of the LB kids may grow into a DL position. This year we had some good talent out west on the DL, but we simply missed out on many kids and letting go of BKU was not the smartest thing Clay did…well, when was the last time Clay made a smart mov… never mind, let’s not go there now. Also, there were some players we flat out missed that we should’ve landed (Ika, Pola-Mao, Tuitele) and others that were non-offers which I don’t get (Bandes being the one that really comes to mind). The LB class is light, but Ralen will going to be very good. However, the lack of talent is not a surprise after we took a big and stellar class last year. With that said, would you trade one or two of the guys last year for Floyd this year? I would. De’Gabriel is a stud. The good news is, the man-child-god, Flowe is in the ’20 class and he is a generational type player. We already lead for him and this is even more reason for him to come here…unless Clancy decides to play a walk-on in front of him, ala PG last year. Man, we took a whole lot of DBs this year. Can’t blame the coaches because we were decimated at the position by transfer, injury and monkey trials and convictions (sorry Bubba, we are just as disappointed in our school as you). There is talent in the DB class, but I’m not sure we needed to take this many bodies. With that said, a HUGE kudos to coach Burns for getting so many of these guys, an awesome and well needed departure from Bradord, one of the worst recruiters and coaches we’ve had in a while.

    (continued below)...
     
       
  2. bestlakersfan

    bestlakersfan Junior Member


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    Offense


    QB

    Kedon Slovis – He is a solid player, but, like Davis (DB), I’m not sure that he is a USC level player. The good news is that he has had good coaching with Kurt Warner. The bad news is that he doesn’t do anything exceptionally well and also doesn’t have great measurables. He will provide depth, but don’t expect much more from him. If he has to start, we are in bad shape with injuries or because everyone has transferred out.


    WR

    Kyle Ford – By far one of the best WR prospects I have seen. He is big, strong, fluid and runs great routes. I wasn’t there, but by all accounts, Kyle was by and far the best player, regardless of position, at The Opening. That is saying A LOT. Unfortunately for him, his season, like Max Williams, was cut short due to a season ending knee. This kid will contribute a ton through his career, but may be a good RS candidate while playing the last 4 games of the year to get familiar with things.


    Drake London – If you haven’t seen his film, do yourself a favor, go watch. Drake is an incredible athlete and may just be the most underrated recruit in the nation. A two-sport athlete, Drake has great body control, frame and is a precise route runner. This kid will be a match-up nightmare in CFB and I could easily see him playing on Sundays. If things click with him and he gets developed properly, watch out.


    Munir McClain – Munir made good progress as the season went on as he was recovering from an ACL injury from the previous year. He has a great frame and room to grow. I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see him become an exclusively pass-catching TE if he continues to grow. If not, he is another big bodied receiver that will be a tough cover. With that said, I think that he is mostly going to be a possession receiver and not really a game-breaker type as he doesn’t have that type of speed.


    TE

    Jude Wolfe – Jude has really grown on me as a player. I think he developed very well and is one of the most well-rounded TEs in the past few years that I have seen. A great frame to go along with good athleticism, Jude is the type of TE that can block well and catch the ball. He fills both needs and it has been a while since we have had a TE that can truly block and catch…in fact, maybe Grimble or Telfer were the last ones that could do both well.


    Ethan Rae – I have been on the Rae train since he was a sophomore. In fact, I thought that he was the best TE in the West when he was a sophomore. Unfortunately, Ethan injured both of his ACLs, right and left, and that has and will no doubt have a major impact on his game. If it wasn’t for the injuries, I think Rae would be a generational type talent at TE. He is big, strong, plays with fire and just has a great build. If he can fully (or close to fully) recover, he will ball out for years at USC. He will and should RS, build up his strength and get those knees and ACLs as strong as possible.


    RB

    Kenan Christon – Talk about a burner, Kenan can fly. My issue with him is that, from what I have seen from him, he lacks that jiggle/wiggle/shiftiness that I often think is so important for a RB. The lateral movements aren’t there. With that said, it is hard not to love his film and numbers he put up. The best thing is that Kenan is an ideal fit for the new offensive scheme. He will need to work on his pass-catching, but he should be a solid contributor for USC.


    OL

    Jason Rodriguez – Big, nasty and strong. This kid can play. I love his feet, technique, leverage and, most of all, attitude. Jason plays mean, strong and smart, the ideal trio as an OL. Although he played almost exclusively as a tackle in HS, I think he will be a guard in college. That is not a bad thing and could actually make him even better. I think that Jason will become a starter for us by his junior year, if not earlier. Very good player with a high ceiling, but higher floor.


    Gino Quinones – Gino played both ways (OL and DE), but USC has recruited him as an OL. An interesting take, in my opinion, that has a low floor. He doesn’t have a frame that I love that much (only 6’2”) and also doesn’t necessarily excel at anything he does. Gino may show some potential, but it is going to take a few years of a college S&C program to see where he ends up. He does play with a good motor and plays through the whistle, which I like.


    Tilini Livai – Boy, this guy plays nasty and mean. He loves contact and brings it every snap. I think Livai is exactly the type of kid that you want on the OL as a recruit. He will develop and will be a force before his career is over. He will play guard in CFB and can become an elite road grader, especially in run blocking. He is strong, has a solid frame with very good leverage and has a nice punch off the snap. I love this take. Along with London and Williams, he could be the most underrated recruit in this class.


    Overall Offensive Recruiting Thoughts

    This class hits on a few needs really well and really misses with a few others. I am underwhelmed with the QB position. I am just not sold on Kedon as a USC level kid, but I hope he proves me wrong. With that said, I also don’t buy the “it’s impossible to get a kid to commit between JT and Bryce”. We Are USC and we can and should recruit at a higher level. The WR class is good, but it could’ve been great. Remember how many times people said enough WRs? Well, we are on the thinner side this year and especially in 2020. The decommitments of Bru and Puka hurt, a lot. This could’ve been one of the best WR classes, ever, EVER. Think about that. With that said, I’m very high on Drake and Kyle and this should also help with the 2020 class that has some real good talent out west. We knocked it out of the park at TE with Jude and Rae. It is a homerun now, but can be a grand-slam if Rae can fully recover. I was a huge fan of Wilmore and think he will be a damn good player in college, but Jinks (our new RB coach) didn’t seem to want him from day one on the job. I will defer, but let me ask you this, would you rather have Wilmore or, let’s say, Trey Davis? Easy answer for me. Kenan is a great fit for this offense, but I’m no where nearly as high as others for him. The biggest disappointment in this class is at OL. This was a rare year that had great depth on the OL in the West Coast and we simply whiffed. Jonah, Rhyan, Aumavae-Laulu, Vimahi, Fautanu and Kaelpo, just to name a few…and those are just the West Coast kids. It will be hard to be a dominant program when you take only five OL over the past two years. Especially when only one (Rodriguez) can be considered a near non-miss. We better hope we get some plug and play OL talent on the transfer market. Overall, the class provides great talent at WR and TE, but is underwhelming outside of those positions. You’d feel a lot better with more bodies at OL and a better, higher-ceiling QB.
     
  3. yah20002

    yah20002 Junior Member


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    Great write-up. Looks like the coaches have some coaching to do with these guys. A lot of people scream for more of the 3* types over the "prima donna" 5 stars. Will be interesting to see the development the next few years.
     
  4. GoSC27!

    GoSC27! Points Member


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    Thanks BLF! I am really worried about 2020’s recruiting class. Usually you take a hit when there is a coaching change. It seems we already took a hit this year with Helton’s tenure and next year.....?
    My main question is if you can provide some insight as to why the top OLine prospects have no interest in coming here. This has been going on for the past 3 years. They have opportunities to immediately compete for starting spots meaning playing time. Is Clay not putting the same effort as he does with the skilled positions? Thanks again, and welcome back!
    Fight On!
     
  5. AZUSCfan

    AZUSCfan Junior Member


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    #6
    Welcome back BLF! Your input is always appreciated and pretty spot on... definitely missed.

    There were head scratchers in this class for sure, so let's hope the coaching staff can develop these players.

    Thanks for the detailed write up.

    Fight On!
     
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  6. Troy70

    Troy70 Junior Member


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    #7
    Thanks for your review. Lack of OL recruits is a problem for sure.
     
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  7. Tunaslam

    Tunaslam Junior Member


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    #8
    Very nice summary, well done!
     
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  8. usc88

    usc88 Junior Member


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    #9
    Very optimistic report. But hope you are right
    Optimism is needed right now
     
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  9. zitorocks

    zitorocks Junior Member


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    #10
    Thanks BLF!

    In your opinion, how does this class compare to one like Clemson? If you look strictly at ratings, they appear very similar. Do you think that with great coaching that this class could be extremely competitive on the field in three years?
     
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  10. motovich

    motovich Junior Member


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    #11
    Thank you for these in-depth scouting reports. Wow, the detail and insights on these players are pretty incredible. Would be pretty interesting if one day (when you have nothing else to do!) you gave individual scouting reports on our current players... I've never seen anything anywhere that gives really detailed analysis of the strengths/weaknesses/projections for our own players.
     
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  11. 3rd Slide

    3rd Slide Junior Member


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    #12
    Very similar, minus the "accidental" PEDs, that is.
     
  12. gubo&palanka

    gubo&palanka Points Member

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    #13
    Great question.
     
  13. PickSicx

    PickSicx Junior Member


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    #14
    Thanks much BLF. I liked both of your posts. I just wish I liked this class more. We fell-off significantly this year and took way too many projects, while letting way too many guys slip away. At least we recruited better than UCLA.
     
  14. Jay4usc

    Jay4usc Points Member


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    #15
    With all the misses with top recruits can we now say ELITE players don’t want to play for Helton?
     
  15. TrojanEddie

    TrojanEddie Junior Member


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    #16
    Great write up on the incoming players. Makes me angry we missed on so many guys though especially the OL. Helton really has driven elite local kids away. Can’t blame them but it does suck for the future of the program. Love your attention to detail on your write ups
     
  16. Cyrus

    Cyrus Junior Member


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    #17
    BLF should have his own column in wearesc, similar to @Arhedge. Maybe even be on the SC coaching staff (as a talent evaluator, if nothing else).
     
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  17. reaLchaZZZy

    reaLchaZZZy Junior Member


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    #18
    Thank you BLF.
    Welcome back home bud! ✌✌✌
     
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  18. bestlakersfan

    bestlakersfan Junior Member


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    #19
    5-stars set a program apart. The amount of contribution for those kids is usually much, much greater than any other rating of player.
     
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  19. bestlakersfan

    bestlakersfan Junior Member


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    #20
    The OL problems are long in depth and scope. First, Calloway didn't do much in terms of recruiting and his lack of development really didn't do him (or us) any favors on the recruiting trail. A couple of things here that are important is that you can't have lazy recruiters after having a 5-7 season and still expect to get all the talent you want. Two, USC, led by Helton needs to adjust to the ESP (early signing period) and not be left in the dust. We must recruit hard and have and have the plan B's ready to go. This year, we failed on most plan A's and by the time we tried to turn to plan B's, they were already signed elsewhere. So, in many cases we ended up with plan C's and D's. In addition to that, the staff really seemed to lack any Plan B's for multiple positions.
     

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