This week marks the debut of the early signing period in college football, and with it being the first year there is a lot of uncertainty of how things will play out. The one thing we do know is that the Trojans are running low on scholarships and will have some important decisions to make in terms of who signs in this period, and who doesn’t.
Right now the Trojans have nine verbal commits, and the projection of the final number of available rides is 18, a number that won’t be set until we know any early NFL departures, transfers, etc. That means the coaches are playing a juggling game without knowing exactly how many spots they will have, although they have a pretty good idea on how those spots will fill up.
One position that will definitely gain clarity is the offensive line, as the top two prospects on the SC wish list – Jackson Carman and Penei Sewell – will announce their college choices.
Carman took his official visit to USC last weekend and judging by his social media posts it’s safe to say that he was enjoying himself.
Why dream it…when you can live it ? pic.twitter.com/xXF07DFwrO
— T H E J I A N T (@Jackthejiant) December 16, 2017
Of course, it’s hard to read too much into that because Jackson is one of those who has enjoyed the recruiting experience and has basically raved about all three of his choices; USC, Ohio State and Clemson. He will make his announcement Wednesday at 8am PT, no stream is scheduled but you can check his Twitter account at (@Jackthejiant)
Sewell also took a recent visit to USC last month and appears to be choosing between USC, Oregon and Alabama. Right now the majority of rumor winds are pointing to either Eugene or Tuscaloosa but the Trojans made their pitch with a solid Polynesian presence on both sides of the line so we’ll see what happens.
Two other recruits who were part of the last official visit weekend are expected to sign with their choice with S Jaiden Woodbey and DL Caleb Tremblay, who will be part of the junior college signing period. Woodbey is still considered an Ohio State commit but he took his USC campus visit on Friday and then headed to Tallahassee for a visit to Florida State. He will be signing at 5:30pm on Wednesday, you can check his Twitter account at @JaidenWoodbey. Tremblay would be a welcome veteran presence along the interior and he’s thought to be choosing between USC and Washington (he visited those schools over the last two weekends).
Among the current USC commits, we are expecting to see several of them sign, including Palaie Gaoteote, Kana’i Mauga, Justin Dedich and Raymond Scott (photo above).
** Signing period begins Wednesday 7am local time for the recruit, and goes until 11:59 Friday night **
Another item of note from the official visit weekend included Abdul-Malik McClain on the trip. The JSerra defensive end is currently a commit to UCLA but the rumor winds are pointing to a flip to the Trojans, which would basically be a swap for former USC commit Bo Calvert, who is now a commit to the Bruins.
Calvert wasn’t the only player to de-commit from the USC class, as Mychale Salahuddin and Andre Hunt both announced their de-commits in recent days. It’s part of the modern day recruiting world to see movement like this, and these moves were definitely proactive from the USC coaches as they look to manage the spots in the coming weeks.
So it was no surprise when, a mere hours after Salahuddin posted his de-commit update, that Markese Stepp announced that he was committing to USC. Stepp had recently de-committed from Notre Dame and the Trojans had the advantage of a pre-existing relationship between Stepp and USC running backs coach Deland McCullough from when McCullough was at Indiana. Stepp is a 228-lb back who has good quickness to go along with that power.
The California State high school championships were held this past weekend in Sacramento with Mater Dei and Narbonne among the winners. Here are thoughts on some of the USC recruits in action:
QB JT Daniels – JT was his usual self throwing the football with 5 touchdown passes but he also continues to show his improved running ability on a play where he escaped in the backfield from Tuli Letuligasenoa and ran for a 40-yard touchdown. JT capped off his season by being named the Gatorade National Player of the Year.
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown – Eight catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Always aggressive and explosive.
De La Salle
DT Tuli Letuligasenoa – The one thing you’re always going to get from DLS players is effort and it was impressive to see how hard the 325-lb Letuligasenoa was playing. There was one series inside the DLS 5-yard line where he made back-to-back plays, a TFL on a run play and a pass batted down on JT Daniels. Tuli looks to fit right in with what the Trojans have going on with the d-line these days.
LB Henry To’oto’o – A class of 2019 versatile athlete, Henry stood out more as a running back in this game with 16 carries for 63 yards but he also added 5 tackles on defense.
*** Another 2019 player who stood out was Pittsburgh DL Jacob Bandes. That’s no surprise considering he is one of the more highly touted players for next year but it’s always nice to see when the elite players show such effort, and Bandes certainly had that. ***