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Recruiting Notebook (1-16 edition)

The final stretch run for the 2018 signing day began this weekend as the Trojans hosted multiple top prospects on the wish list, including a pair of cornerbacks in Olaijah Griffin and Isaac Taylor-Stuart, as well as wide receiver Devon Williams.

What makes things interesting with just over three weeks to go before signing day is that it’s unclear just how many spots the Trojans have available. It’s been known that this class would be smaller than normal because of so few departing seniors (this senior group was the last scholarship-reduced class due to sanctions) but the exact number won’t be finalized until we know how many players will be leaving early for the NFL draft, transfer or other reasons.

Right now the Trojans have 71 players on the roster following the announcements by four underclassmen that they would be leaving early for the NFL draft (Sam Darnold, Ronald Jones, Deontay Burnett, Rasheem Green). There were 10 players signed during the early signing period, and four more verbal commits who are planning to sign in February (Letuligasenoa, Trout, St. Brown, Daniels). If those numbers hold, that would mean 85 bodies on the roster, which is the maximum amount.

So if the Trojans are already at the 85-man limit, the only way to add more bodies on signing day is to see further attrition from the roster, and that’s something the coaches are monitoring behind the scenes but there are precious few details available for public consumption. Obviously the coaches are continuing to host recruits so they have reason to believe there will be spots available, we just don’t know how many there will be or who will leave in order to open up the spots.

Here is where things stand on the remaining targets:

WR Devon Williams: The coaches would love to add a “tall” receiver to pair with Amon-Ra St. Brown in this class and Williams has long been a target. It appears to be a Oregon vs USC battle on this one, Williams was at one-time considered a lean to the Ducks but the Trojans made an impression during the weekend visit and if there is a spot available it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him end up at USC.

OL Penei Sewell: The prize of the remaining OL targets, the Trojans made their pitch during an official visit in November and now must fight off Alabama and Oregon in the hopes of signing Sewell. Expect a lot of recruiting amongst players this week at the Polynesian Bowl.

DL Michael Thompson: USC already has one DT commit from Missouri and would love to add a 2nd one in Thompson, who looked very good in the Army game. Thompson visited SC for the UCLA game and most of the speculation these days has him staying home to play for the Tigers.

LB Solomon Tuliaupupu: The Trojans already have a terrific linebacker group with four signees but Solo would be the cherry on top of that sundae. He has not visited USC yet while other schools in the mix are Ohio State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and UCLA. I haven’t heard anything yet that would make me think Solo will end up elsewhere but it will be nice when this one is done.

CB Olaijah Griffin: The one-time UCLA commit is very much in play for the Trojans, but there are others such as Tennessee, Michigan and Auburn.

CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart: Isaac has been active on social media with his desire to see SEC schools before making his choice and he will have that chance in the coming weeks with visits to Alabama and either Tennessee or Georgia, and he’s already been to Texas A&M.

DB Julius Irvin: The versatile safety/corner was planning on signing early but a family situation delayed that, and the three teams still thought to be in the mix are USC, Notre Dame and Washington.

Garry Paskwietz

A 1988 graduate of USC with a degree in Sports Information. Worked in sports marketing for LA Lakers and Miller Brewing Company. Began covering the Trojans in 1996 with the Trojan Football Fax. Founded WeAreSC in November 1998 with stints at Scout and ESPN. Emmy-winner while covering high school football at Fox Sports West.

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