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Recruiting reset: Offense

While it’s still fairly early in the 2021 recruiting cycle and timing for spring unofficial and official visits has been thrown off completely by the coronavirus pandemic, programs continue to pile up commitments and the USC Trojans especially have put their best foot forward with this recruiting class.

Here, we break down what USC’s recruiting class looks like at this point, and where it could be headed, on the offensive side of the ball.

Quarterback

USC holds a commitment from Jake Garcia (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) and is chasing a second quarterback in this class.

Garcia is the nation’s No. 32 overall prospect, thanks to a top-25 ranking from both ESPN and Rivals. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound quarterback has a very strong arm and can make all the throws. His early commitment has helped build this USC class as he has been a recruiting leader.

USC has to find a second quarterback in this class, as the numbers at the position are already low and could be getting lower. The Trojans lost Jack Sears last season when he was relegated to No. 4 on the depth chart and elected to enter the transfer portal. Now, they could lose JT Daniels as well, as Daniels recently entered the transfer portal himself, though he could elect to return.

Should Daniels leave, the Trojans would be down to just one scholarship quarterback–Kedon Slovis–at the end of the season, when Matt Fink’s eligibility expires. After Bryce Young flipped to Alabama in the 2020 recruiting class, USC chased a few quarterback targets late but missed on all of them. Garcia gives the Trojans a really solid piece at the position, and now USC will look to add local prospect Miller Moss (Mission Hills, Calif./Alemany).

Moss recently named USC, along with Alabama, LSU and UCLA as his top four schools. It will be interesting to see how Moss reacts to trips out to Alabama and LSU, or if the local programs can keep him home. There is a complete understanding from all USC quarterback targets about the desire to sign multiple prospects at the position in this class.

USC has offered several other quarterbacks in this class, but Moss is the big remaining target.

Running back

Four-star prospect Brandon Campbell (Katy, Texas/Katy) is already committed as the Trojans will look to take multiple running backs in this class. USC will lose Vavae Malepeai, Stephen Carr and Quincy Jountti (and Markese Stepp will be draft eligible as well) after this season, so adding two backs in this class is another priority.

Campbell is a solid all-around back with very good speed and ability once he gets moving upfield. He’d be a solid addition to this class solely as a player, but he brings a couple additional benefits as well. He’s become one of the most vocal committed prospects as a recruiter for any program in the nation. And he’s also another commitment from Texas. USC coaches on both sides of the ball have deep roots in the state of Texas and have hit it hard with offers and attention. USC landed two offensive linemen from Texas in the 2020 class and are in the mix for some Texas standouts in the 2021 and 2022 classes.

Closer to home, two top running back targets remain in California, in San Diego’s Byron Cardwell (San Diego/Morse) and Northern California’s Prophet Brown (Elk Grove, Calif./Monterey Trail). Cardwell, at 6-foot and 195 pounds, has good speed and vision, and the ability to hit a hole quickly and get upfield. Brown, at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, is a speed back that can make people miss and is dynamic in space. Both backs catch the ball well enough to be immediate threats out of the backfield or at times in the slot.

USC is also in the mix for Logan Diggs (Metarie, La./Archbishop Rummel), a 6-foot, 195-pound back who recently included the Trojans on his top-ten list, as well as Texas back De’Anthony Lewis (Converse, Texas/Judson).

Depending on how the numbers shake out, it wouldn’t be a huge shock if the Trojans grabbed three backs in this class, to start building back some depth at the position.

Wide receiver

USC doesn’t yet hold a commitment from a wide receiver in this class, but it won’t be a position the Trojans have trouble filling. The depth chart should work out fairly favorably, as USC can point to signing just two receivers last year for an offense that provides plenty of opportunities for at least four receivers.

Wide receiver Troy Franklin (Menlo Park, Calif./Menlo-Atherton) is at the top of the list for the Trojans, likely both in-state and nationally, as the 6-foot-2, 170-pound receiver is the nation’s No. 31 overall prospect and No. 3 receiver. He’s simply an all-around great receiver who can do some of everything in terms of speed, release, creating separation and catching the ball naturally wherever it’s thrown.

Franklin has narrowed his top schools down to Alabama, Arizona State, LSU, Oregon, USC and Washington. The two Pacific Northwest schools are strong contenders, while the Crimson Tide and Tigers have lately been able to get just about anybody they target.

USC is in a good spot for Quay Davis (Dallas/Skyline), a 6-foot, 195-pound receiver who is quick and physical and very dangerous after the catch. Davis has previously been committed to Texas, but the Trojans appear to be in a very good spot with him at this point.

The Trojans also look good for Michael Jackson III (Las Vegas/Desert Pines), a 6-foot, 198-pound receiver who could develop into a dominant slot receiver with his ability to work underneath and with the ball in his hands after the catch. Oregon will push hard for Jackson as well, as he still has 11 schools involved on his top list.

The nation’s No. 6 receiver and No. 45 overall prospect, Dont’e Thornton (Baltimore/Mt. St. Joseph) has USC among his final 12 schools, though the 6-foot-4, 185-pound receiver could be a tough pull away from the Northeast region.

Also nationally, USC is in the mix for three-star wide receiver Ahmari Huggins-Bruce (Dillon, SC/Dillon), who called USC his dream school when he received his offer. But Huggins-Bruce is a top Virginia Tech target as well and the Hokies are recruiting extremely well in this class.

It’s no surprise when USC makes a top list for a Texas prospect, and 6-foot-3, 190-pound receiver Hal Presley (Arlington, Texas/Mansfield Summit) recently included the Trojans among his top 10 schools. Baylor and Texas are both involved in-state with Presley.

In state, the Trojans have extended offers to Cristian Dixon (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), Xavier Worthy (Fresno, Calif./Central East) and Makai Cope (Culver City, Calif./Culver City).

USC is among the final eight schools for Dixon, while Worthy did not include USC among his top six, though his recruitment is still open.

Tight end

Tight end is an interesting spot for the Trojans because it wasn’t a position utilized much in the passing game last season, but USC offensive coaches have said repeatedly that it’s a position they want to use more. They’ve backed that up by stocking the roster with tight ends–there are six good options there this season–and chasing more in this recruiting class.

Terrance Ferguson (Littleton, Colo./Heritage) recently included USC among his top 10 schools, along with a very national list of Arizona State, Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Washington and Wisconsin.

In state, 6-foot-4, 220-pound JP Murphy (Danville, Calif./San Ramon Valley) picked up an offer this month from the Trojans and they join Arizona State in chasing the three-star tight end.

Lake McRee (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis) and Elijah Arroyo (Frisco, Texas/Independence) are two more prospects the Trojans are pursuing in Texas. Arroyo recently included USC among his top 10 schools.

Offensive line

USC did well to load up on offensive linemen in the 2020 class because the depth chart was in desperate need of an infusion of bodies. But offensive line coach Tim Drevno and the Trojans are after a few more in this class.

Already, USC has two of the top in-state prospects committed, in offensive tackles Mason Murphy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./JSerra) and Maximus Gibbs (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco).

The Trojans are after several more linemen and will chase some big-time national prospects there, with a few more options closer to home.

Offensive tackle Tristan Leigh (Fairfax, Va./Robinson Secondary) is at the top of the wish list, but the nation’s No. 15 overall prospect and No. 4 offensive tackle will be an extremely difficult get. Clemson, Virginia Tech and Penn State are all heavily involved closer to home, and both Alabama and LSU are pushing as well.

Out West, offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia (Orem, Utah/Orem) is the nation’s No. 64 prospect and No. 1 player in the state of Utah. This is a case where losing Penei Sewell to Oregon in the 2018 class could hurt the Trojans yet again, as Suamataia at this point looks likely to follow the fellow Utah prospect to Oregon. But USC will likely continue to recruit him hard.

Arizona has a couple of targets, in offensive tackles Bram Walden (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro) and Jonah Miller (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic). Walden is another lineman that USC might have to wrestle away from Oregon, as the Ducks signed his former offensive lineman teammate last year and might be leading the way for Walden at this point. But USC was able to host him unofficially before the early dead period was enacted. Walden is the nation’s No. 87 overall prospect, while Miller is a four-star tackle as well.

In state, offensive guard Josh Simmons (La Mesa, Calif./Helix) might be the top target at his position. The four-star guard checks in at 6-foot-6, 280-pounds. He made an early commitment to Oregon but has since backed off and the Trojans have turned up the heat in his recruitment.

Offensive guard Ross Maseuli (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) and tackle Saia Mapakaitolo (Mission Hills, Calif./Alemany) are two more California prospects that USC has offered at important high schools.



Erik McKinney
Author
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.


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