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Trojan Recruiting Talk (4-25 edition)

Garry Paskwietz

Hey Johnny. It’s the start of the spring evaluation period for recruiting, always an important time for the coaches to hit the road and make a lot of progress on the recruiting trail. Before we get into it, give us a reset on where things stand numbers-wise for the Trojans right now.

Johnny Curren

Well, right now the Trojans have six commits from the Class of 2018. Their current collection of verbal pledges puts them at No. 9 in the ESPN RecruitingNation rankings, No. 12 by 24/7, No. 10 by Rivals and No. 7 by Scout.com. While the total number of scholarships to give is very fluid, right now it’s possible that they’ll have less than 20 to give this time around. They have a total of 83 players on scholarship right now – 12 of whom are seniors. If everything stayed the same, they would have 14 rides to fill up following the 2017 season. Of course, that doesn’t factor in potential blueshirts, early departures to the NFL, transfers, etc…so that number can, and likely will, go up. It always seems to.

Garry Paskwietz

Like you say, the number is likely to rise above 14 but it’s not going to be a full 25 man class, and that’s timing isn’t ideal for the Trojans considering the momentum with the program right now. There are going to be some tough decisions for Helton and his staff because there are a lot of talented guys right now with interest in being Trojans and you just don’t have a full allotment of scholarships to play with. Let’s talk about one area where I think that’s going to play out and that is on both sides of the line. The good news is that SC loaded up last year with 5 players each for OL and DL, but i think those numbers are going to be much lower this year. That’s one of the reasons the commitment from Tuli Letuligasenoa was so huge. It also continues an impressive streak of big-time interior DL commits. The future for the Trojans is strong there. One name that will be interesting to watch is Justin Dedich. He just got an SC offer during spring ball but a lot of people think he is the top offensive lineman in the state. Where do you see things with him?

Johnny Curren

Dedich’s stock does continue to rise, and the fact that he’s a pure center puts him in even higher demand. UCLA has been involved with him for quite awhile now, but the Trojans do appear to have made up plenty of ground here. The fact that he was on campus this spring is evidence of that. Still, he’s taking his time with the process, and plenty of other schools are involved as well. He’ll visit Utah, Arizona, Oregon, Oregon State and others in the coming weeks. Still a long way to go in this race.

Garry Paskwietz

What do you see as the priority for the remaining spots? I’m going to say cornerback. This is a year with some pretty good ones and I don’t want to get caught short in this conference so I would take three, with Marcus Johnson already a verbal and I would love to add Olaijah Griffin and Isaac Taylor-Stuart.

Johnny Curren

Yes, cornerback is the obvious No. 1 priority. The Trojans did take two players here this past signing day, but they probably would have ideally liked to have reeled in another. Because of that, I expect them to take up to 3 cornerbacks this time around. They are doing very well with Griffin, and they’re right in the hunt for Taylor-Stuart (photo above) as well. Those two along with Johnson would be outstanding. USC also has a big need at linebacker, but they’ve done a great job already there. In Palaie Gaoteote, Raymond Scott and Bo Calvert they have three of the best around, and they’re also still strongly in the running for Solomon Tuliaupupu, and they’re in the mix for Merlin Robertson as well.

Garry Paskwietz

Sticking in the secondary, there is a commitment announcement coming this weekend from one of the top safeties in the area, Steve Stephens from Fresno. i like his game a lot, a real instinctive safety, and the Trojans are definitely in it as one of the schools he visited but it sounds like Willie Taggart and Oregon are going to be tough on this one.

Johnny Curren

Yes, the latest buzz has Oregon as the favorite, but USC is obviously a school that he has shown interest in, so you never know.

Garry Paskwietz

What do you think of the news at Long Beach Poly this week with the transfers of Aashari Crosswell and Jalen Hall. When you add Camren McDonald, it’s quite the group for Matt Corral to do some unofficial recruiting for the Trojans.

Johnny Curren

That’s right. That should be quite a team this year. Hall and McDonald are two of the more impressive pass-catchers in the area. With Hall at 6-foot-4, and McDonald at 6-foot-5, I don’t know how opposing defenses are going to deal with that tandem. Corral has to be extremely happy, and I expect him to have a big year. And yes, he’s known to be a vocal recruiter for the Trojans. I’m sure McDonald and Hall will hear plenty about USC in the coming months.

Garry Paskwietz

I think Crosswell has flown under the radar, especially when compared to a Jaiden Woodbey who seems to get a lot more attention, but Crosswell is right there as a big time guy. What do you see from him?

Johnny Curren

Crosswell is a great all-around athlete, and he’s particularly strong in coverage. The good news is that he has definite interest in USC too. In fact, he’s another player who was on campus this spring. Nebraska and Michigan are a couple of the other schools that are in the running.

Garry Paskwietz

As the coaches hit the road, give us a name that you think could end up being a surprise during this evaluation period.

Johnny Curren

I’ll go with Tommy Brown, the offensive tackle out of Mater Dei. With Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tuliaupupu and JT Daniels there as well, you know the Trojans coaches won’t waste any time in hitting up that campus come May, so they’ll obviously see Brown as well. He has prototypical size for a tackle, and an impressive offer sheet already. As the process wears on, I could see the USC coaches throwing their hat in the ring, particularly if a couple of the out-of-state targets head elsewhere.

Garry Paskwietz

Interesting. As we talked earlier, there aren’t going to be many spots for OL but I agree that Brown is a real possibility. I’m going to go with John Jackson III, the son of JJ. He’s made a lot of progress this spring in his first off-season as a receiver on the 7-on-7 circuit, and I’m anxious to see where he’s at when Serra starts their passing leagues and he is lining up with Kobe Smith, Bryan Addison, Max Williams, etc. I think he’s going to show well and put himself in position for a lot of increased recruiting attention. Thanks Johnny, we will do this again as the evaluation period goes along.

Johnny Curren

cool, thanks



Garry Paskwietz
Author
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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