15 min Read

Looking back at USC’s decommitments

Not all recruiting decommitments are created equal. There are mutual decisions between a recruit and coaching staff to go separate ways. There are times when a recruit is dropped for a better or more needed player. And there are times when another program swoops in and steals a recruit that both programs are fighting for.

USC is like every other program in that it has had its share of these situations over the past several years. There have been a few true misses, but there have been an umber of times where the Trojans came out ahead in the trade off. Beginning with the 2016 recruiting class, and players who could theoretically still be on the roster, this is a look at where those decommitments wound up and what kind of effect they’ve had there.

2016 class

LB Mique Juarez (Torrance, Calif./North) 6-2, 255 – 5-star – No. 11 overall

The five-star linebacker wound up signing with UCLA as the top prospect in the Bruins’ 2016 recruiting class. But injury issues caught up with him there and he played in just 14 games over three years, mostly on special teams. Juarez announced that he would transfer to Utah in the spring of 2019, but he never showed up on the Utah roster.

LB Daelin Hayes (Ann Arbor, Mich./Skyline) 6-4, 249 – 4-star – No. 133

The four-star linebacker signed with Notre Dame, where he went on to become a defensive lineman team captain for this past season. He was a solid contributor in his four healthy seasons in South Bend — he missed most of the 2019 season with a shoulder injury — and recently announced that he will make himself available for the 2019 NFL Draft.

WR Melquise Stovall (Lancaster, Calif./Paraclete) 5-7, 182 – 4-star – No. 206

Stovall signed with Cal and played for the Golden Bears for two years before being suspended and electing to leave the program. He landed at Riverside City College for a year before moving on to Hawaii. He was dismissed from that program midway through the 2019 season, but allowed to return this past season under a new coaching staff. Stovall had 31 receptions for 232 yards in 2020.

DT Keyshon Camp (Lakeland, Fla./Lake Gibson) 6-4, 275 – 4-star – No. 260

Defensive tackle Keyshon Camp signed with Pittsburgh, where he has dealt with some injuries over the years. He started eight games as a redshirt freshman, then played in seven games in 2018 before suffering a season-ending injury. Camp had a sack in the first half of the season opener in 2019, but then went down with an injury and missed the rest of the year. Injuries again limited him to just seven games this past season, when he had six total tackles.

DE Keanu Saleapaga (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) 6-5, 270 – 3-star – No. 1,029

Saleapaga flipped over to the offensive line when he signed with BYU and has been a regular contributor there. He started eight games as a redshirt freshman and started 11 games at right tackle and right guard as a redshirt sophomore in 2019. Saleapaga was beaten out for a starting spot this past season, as BYU had one of the highest-rated offensive lines in the country.

2017 class

CB Thomas Graham (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) 5-11, 175 – 4-star – No. 85

Graham turned into a star at Oregon, starting 39 games in a row during his three seasons with the Ducks. He was credited with 28 pass breakups in his sophomore and junior seasons and finished his Oregon career with eight interceptions. Graham opted out of the 2020 season and made himself eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft. This was a decommitment that stung, as USC absolutely could have used Graham at cornerback over the past several seasons.

WR Amari Rodgers (Knoxville, Tenn./Knoxville Catholic) 5-9, 221 – 4-star – No. 117

The son of former USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin, Amari Rodgers signed with Clemson and had a productive career for the Tigers. Rodgers was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award this past season, as he led Clemson with 77 receptions for 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns. He declared earlier this month for the 2021 NFL Draft.

ATH Juwan Burgess (Tampa, Fla./Plant) 6-1, 185 – 3-star – No. 385

Burgess signed with Indiana and has been a contributing member of the secondary there. He played in 12 games as a redshirt freshman, then started seven games at safety in 2019. Burgess didn’t get a starting spot this past season, but played in six games and had eight tackles.

LB Daniel Green (Portland, Ore./Madison) 6-3, 230 – 3-star – No. 494

Green was a greyshirt at Kansas State due to academic issues, but he’s contributed plenty since arriving on campus. As a reserve linebacker in 2019, Green had 34 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. This past season, Green played in 10 games, starting two, and recorded 39 tackles with 2.5 sacks.

DE Terrance Lang (Pasadena, Calif./Maranatha) 6-7, 265 – 3-star – No. 539

Lang has become an integral part of the Colorado defensive line during his career. He played in 11 games as a redshirt freshman in 2018, then started 11 the following year and all five this past season. He had six sacks among his 40 tackles in 2019 and had 14 stops and a sack last fall.

WR Marlon Williams (Mobile, Ala./McGill Toolen) 6-0, 205 – 3-star – No. 596

Williams put together a really nice career at UCF, as he had 51 receptions for 717 yards and six touchdowns as a junior, then followed that up with a big senior year in 2020. He led the AAC in receptions and receiving yards per game, as he caught 71 passes for 1,039 yards and 10 touchdowns in just eight games. In his four-year career, Williams caught 157 passes for 2,260 yards and 19 scores, averaging 14.4 yards per catch.

DT James Lynch (Round Rock, Tex./Round Rock) 6-4, 285 – 3-star – No. 607

Lynch was a star at Baylor, contributing as a true freshman and leaving early for the NFL Draft and a consensus All-American season as a junior in 2019. As a junior, Lynch led the Big 12 in sacks with 13.5 and was second in the league in tackles for loss with 19.5.

S C.J. Miller (Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern) 6-1, 188 – 3-star – No. 1,033

Miller signed with Ole Miss and served as a backup safety as a redshirt freshman and sophomore. He entered the transfer portal in October of 2019 and did not land at another program.

CB Wylan Free (Carson, Calif./Carson) 6-2, 172 – 3-star – No. 1,168

Free signed with Fresno State and played sparingly over his first two seasons, but stepped into a starting role at safety as a redshirt sophomore in 2019, when he had 64 tackles and two interceptions. He moved to cornerback this past fall and started all six games there, totaling 18 tackles, four pass deflections and an interception.

2018 class

QB Matt Corral (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly) 6-2, 202 – 4-star – No. 63

Corral signed with Ole Miss and got his feet wet his first two seasons, playing in 14 games and starting four. He took over as the fulltime starter this past fall as a redshirt sophomore and was very good. He finished the season as a Manning Award finalist and a Davey O’Brien Award semifinalist. In 10 games, he passed for 3,337 and 29 touchdowns against 14 interceptions, and rushed for 506 yards and another four scores.

DT Tuli Letuligasenoa (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) 6-1, 338 – 4-star – No. 105

Letuligasenoa hasn’t had a major impact at Washington yet. He played in 12 games during the 2019 season, finishing with 23 tackles a sack. He was limited to just two games and five tackles this past fall.

RB Mychale Salahuddin (Washington, D.C./Woodson) 5-10, 193 – 4-star – No. 214

Salahuddin signed with Pitt and played in three games as a true freshman. After an injury, he transferred to North Carolina A&T but hasn’t played in a game there yet.

LB Bo Calvert (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) 6-3, 230 – 4-star – No. 251

Calvert played in six games during his first two years at UCLA, but stepped into a bigger role this past season when he recorded 28 tackles during the six-game season.

TE Camren McDonald (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly) 6-4, 220 – 4-star – No. 290

McDonald signed with Florida State and came into the 2020 season with just six receptions. But he had a fairly nice year for the Seminoles, catching 23 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns.

WR Andre Hunt (Lancaster, Calif./Paraclete) 6-0, 175 – 3-star – No. 565

Hunt signed with Nebraska but ran into legal issues and was expelled in the spring of last year.

WR Manuel Allen (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde) 6-2, 175 – 3-star – No. 635

Allen committed to USC, Nebraska and Louisville during his recruiting process before ultimately signing with Western Kentucky. He was originally a 2018 recruit but reclassified to 2019 due to academics. He entered his name into the transfer portal in the summer of 2019 and played for Chaffey College that fall.

2019 class

LB De’Gabriel Floyd (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake) 6-1, 231 – 4-star – No. 67

Floyd signed with Texas but was diagnosed with spinal stenosis during spring ball as an early enrollee and eventually opted to medically retire.

RB Jordan Wilmore (Lawndale, Calif./Lawndale) 5-8, 200 – 4-star – No. 363

Wilmore signed with Utah and recorded 67 carries for 267 yards and 1 touchdown in 14 games there. He elected to enter the transfer portal last month and the Utes have since landed two transfer tailbacks.

CB Jaylen Watson (Augusta, Ga./Ventura College) 6-2, 195 – 3-star – No. 100 Juco

Watson signed with USC but did not enroll. Instead, he did not play in the fall of 2019 and signed with Washington State as part of the 2020 class. He played in three of Washington State’s four games last season, and recorded 13 tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

2020 class

QB Bryce Young (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) – 5-11, 183 – 5-star – No. 2

Young signed with Alabama and got some limited reps during the Crimson Tide’s march to the national championship this season. He went 13-for-22 for 156 yards and a touchdown. It’ll likely be his team starting next season.

WR Kris Hutson (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) – 5-10, 175 – 4-star – No. 229

Hutson signed with Oregon and had four receptions for 37 yards this season, and also handled kickoff returns for the Ducks in their bowl game against Iowa State.

WR Koy Moore (Metairie, La./Archbishop Rummel) 6-1, 172 – 4-star – No. 299

Moore saw the field as a true freshman at LSU, as he finished the 2020 season with 22 receptions for 177 yards.

TE Jack Yary (Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley) 6-6, 246 – 4-star – No. 363

Yary signed with USC but eventually backed away from that and announced his intentions to go to Washington. The Huskies announced him and he was on the 2020 roster, but he does not appear on Washington’s updated 2021 roster.

OT Joey Wright (Reno, Nev./Bishop Manogue) 6-6, 297 – 3-star – No. 704

Wright signed with San Diego State and did not see action this past fall.

OG Kyle Juergens (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./St. Margaret’s) 6-4, 241 – 3-star – No. 1,461

Juergens played both offensive and defensive line in high school, and signed with Boise State as an offensive lineman. He did not see any game action this past fall.

2021 class

QB Jake Garcia (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) 6-2, 195 – 4-star – No. 46

Garcia signed with Miami after USC went all in on Jaxson Dart as its second quarterback in the 2021 class.

LB Ma’a Gaoteote (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) 6-2, 220 – 4-star – No. 155

Gaoteote signed with Michigan State, leaving USC with just one linebacker signee in the 2021 class — though the Trojans could add four-star Raesjon Davis in February.

CB Philip Riley (Valrico, Fla./Bloomingdale) 6-0, 195 – 4-star – No. 313

Riley flipped to USC from Notre Dame, but then flipped back to Notre Dame and signed with the Fighting Irish. USC signed or has commitments from three cornerbacks and three safeties in this class.

S Josh Moore (Atlanta/Marist) 6-2, 195 – 3-star – No. 428

Moore flipped to USC from Stanford but then needed to look elsewhere when the Trojans did not have room to take him. He eventually signed with UCLA.

OT Saia Mapakaitolo (Mesa, Ariz./Red Mountain) 6-5, 280 – 3-star – No. 512

Mapakaitolo did not sign with USC in the early signing period and remains uncommitted.

ATH Velltray Jefferson (Fresno Calif./Edison) 6-4, 230 – 3-star – No. 771

Jefferson is a true athlete who could play a number of positions at the next level. He signed with Utah as a defensive prospect and will likely play a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role.

Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

More Articles By Erik