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Trojans make top six for elite wide receiver

The USC Trojans have signed more than their share of standout wide receivers over the years and the Trojan coaches could add a few more to that list in the 2021 class. On Saturday, USC took a big step forward with one, as four-star wideout Dont’e Thornton (Baltimore/Mt. St. Joseph) included the Trojans among his top six schools.

Arizona State, Florida State, Notre Dame, Oregon, USC and Virginia made the list for the 6-foot-4, 185-pound receiver and nation’s No. 47 overall prospect. In something of a surprise, Thornton did not list Penn State. Thornton had been committed to the Nittany Lions before decommitting last fall.

The Trojans have been able to make a fairly quick impact on Thornton, as USC didn’t offer until this past March. Wide receivers coach Keary Colbert will have a few opportunities to make a big recruiting impact with prospects at his position, and Thorton presents one of them.

While he doesn’t have blazing speed as a bigger receiver, he’s certainly fast enough, a big-play threat on every route and does well to provide a nice target for his quarterback. As a junior, Thornton turned 38 catches into 1,021 yards and 16 touchdowns, averaging 26.9 yards per catch.

Oregon could be difficult to beat in the race for Thornton, as he has visited the Ducks previously and called them his “dream school” when they offered.

Wide receiver is an interesting spot to watch with USC recruiting in this class, as the Trojans already hold a commitment from Quay Davis (Dallas/Skyline) and might need to beat out Oregon for three of the top targets left on their board.

In addition to Thornton, both Oregon and USC are squarely in the mix for four-star prospect Troy Franklin (Menlo Park, Calif./Menlo-Atherton), the nation’s No. 31 overall prospect, as well as three-star receiver Michael Jackson III (Las Vegas/Desert Pines).

USC’s wide receiver depth chart is loaded at this point, both with veteran returning talent and a crop of untested young players. The Trojans will lose Tyler Vaughns following this season, and Amon-Ra St. Brown could have a decision to make regarding the NFL Draft. Behind them, the 2019 class provided a ton of talent, as Drake London has already made a mark, and Kyle Ford, Bru McCoy, Munir McClain and John Jackson III could be ready to do the same this year.

The Trojans signed two receivers in the 2020 class in Gary Bryant Jr. and Joshua Jackson Jr., but at 5-foot-11, and 6-foot-1, respectively, there’s definitely a spot for a bigger receiver in this class.

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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