USC announced the signings of 19 high school prospects and the addition of one transfer on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period for the 2021 recruiting class.
This likely will not wrap up USC’s 2021 recruiting class, as there are several high-priority prospects who remain uncommitted and unsigned. No. 1 overall prospect, defensive end Korey Foreman (Corona, Calif./Centennial) will announce his commitment in early January along with four-star cornerback Ceyair Wright (Los Angeles/Loyola). Four-star linebacker Raesjon Davis (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) is committed to LSU, but he did not sign today and will likely wait all the way until the traditional February signing period to do so.
“I’m really happy about today, but more importantly than winning the day, it was really about winning championships,” USC head coach Clay Helton said of this 2021 recruiting class so far. “And these men that are coming in are not only talented, but they’re the right guys and they’re the right guys to help us win championships. It’s a good day. We have some more work to do, not only through this week, but through February to finish off this class.”
Ten of the high school recruits announced today will enroll at USC this spring, and all eyes will be at the quarterback position, as the Trojans landed two signal-callers in this class, with four-star Miller Moss (Los Angeles/Bishop Alemany) being joined on signing day by fellow four-star prospect Jaxson Dart (Kaysville, Utah/Corner Canyon).
It was an interesting path to two quarterbacks in this class, as the Trojans held commitments from Moss and Jake Garcia (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) for months, but began a pursuit of Dart this past fall that ultimately helped lead to Garcia backing away from his commitment.
That made Dart a must-get for the Trojans and they were able to land him in a signing day announcement.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Dart had an extremely impressive senior season, and Helton raved about what he and the offensive staff saw in him.
“Really he came on the scene in the fall, and having a chance to watch his tape and how he progressed from his junior to senior year and what he was accomplishing, he has every aspect that you want in a quarterback,” Helton said. “And it was his consistency of play that really stood out to me. I’ve always believed quarterbacks are like that great golfer, that great pitcher. They take that swing or they release that pitch and they move on to the next pitch. For him, it didn’t matter if it was a good play or a bad play, he was able to move on and consistently play at a high level. And obviously what he was able to do for his team, he put them on his back and carried them to a championship. So, it was really neat to watch him, and then to get to know him and his family, you can tell that he’s a winner and a winner at heart. It was neat to get to know him this fall. Expecting great things from him and looking forward to coaching him.”
Helton had similar things to saw about Moss, and praised both for accepting the challenge of coming in with another highly-regarded quarterback.
“We’re excited about both kids and they have that intestinal fortitude to believe in themselves, believe in what they can do,” Helton said “They saw that we have not signed a quarterback last year, that there was a two-year gap, and that there was an opportunity to compete at a very young age and play at a very young age. And that’s all you want as a quarterback, is to be able to step in a room, compete and the best guy plays. That’s what this place has always been and always garnered is championship level quarterbacks and we’ve very fortunate to get both Miller and Jaxson. I cannot wait to work with both of them.”
In the offensive backfield, the quarterbacks will be joined this spring by four-star running back Brandon Campbell (Houston, Tex./Lamar Consolidated), one of four Texas prospects in this class for the Trojans.
Three-star prospect Michael Jackson III (Las Vegas/Desert Pines) is the lone wide receiver enrolling early, but the Trojans will add four-star prospect Kyron Ware-Hudson (Duarte, Calif./Mater Dei) and three-star prospect Joseph Manjack IV (Tomball, Tex./Tomball Memorial) in the fall.
USC also signed two Y-bodies, according to Helton, which are tight ends that play the Y position in the USC offense. Lake McRee (Austin, Tex./Lake Travis) will enroll this spring, while four-star, two-sport (football and basketball) standout Michael Trigg (Tampa, Fla./Carrollwood Day) will be at USC for the fall.
The three offensive linemen are fall enrollees, in Mason Murphy (Riverside, Calif./JSerra), Ty Buchanan (Corpus Christi, Tex./Calallen) and Maximus Gibbs (Norwalk, Calif./St. John Bosco). This is a big group, as Murphy and Buchanan both check in at 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, while Gibbs is listed at 6-foot-6, 360 pounds.
Defensively, the Trojans loaded up in the defensive backfield, signing two cornerbacks and three safeties. Both corners — Prophet Brown (Sacramento, Calif./Monterey Trail) and Jaylin Smith (Palmdale, Calif./Bishop Alemany) — will arrive at USC in the fall, while the three safeties — Anthony Beavers Jr. (Baldwin Hills, Calif./St. Bernard), Calen Bullock (Pasadena, Calif./Muir) and Xamarion Gordon (Downey, Calif./Warren) — are spring enrollees.
Cornerbacks coach Donte Williams is generally regarded as the best recruiter in the Pac-12, and he teamed up with safeties coach Craig Naivar to land a great group of defensive backs.
“I can’t thank them enough because the energy and the enthusiasm and the work ethic and the love for recruiting was just evident from Day 1, and the relationship builders that they are,” Helton said of Williams and Naivar. “And the product they put on the field. Kids can see all of a sudden how much improvement our secondary has had from last year to this year. Talanoa Hufanga has become a national star in front of our eyes. You look at the improvement of Chris Steele and Olaijah Griffin, the years that they have. Isaiah Pola-Mao.
“Donte and Craig may be known as great recruiters, and they are, but they’re even better coaches and the product on the field they’re creating, it was evident to kids and it was really easy. When you saw these kids commit early and then never flinched whatsoever, it speaks volumes to the relationships they had with the kids, but also the beliefs the kids had in them.”
USC signed just one linebacker on Wednesday, but he’s a good one, in four-star athlete Julien Simon (Tacoma, Wash./Lincoln). Simon will be at USC this spring and Helton said he was someone with captain intangibles, clearly designating him already as a potential leader of the team.
On the defensive line, USC signed defensive end Colin Mobley (Washington, D.C./DeMatha Catholic) and defensive tackle Jay Toia (Inglewood, Calif./Grace Brethren). The two prep recruits are supported by landing 6-foot-4, 330-pound defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher (Amite, La./Alabama) as a transfer from the Alabama Crimson Tide. He appeared in just one game in his one-plus year at Alabama and will be with the Trojans for spring ball.
Complete list of signees:
Ishmael Sopsher – DL – 6-4 – 330 – Amite, LA (Amite/Alabama)
High school early enrollees
Anthony Beavers Jr. – DB – 6-2, 195 – Baldwin Hills, CA (St. Bernard)
Calen Bullock – DB – 6-2, 175 – Pasadena, CA (John Muir)
Brandon Campbell – RB – 5-11, 195 – Houston, TX (Lamar Consolidated)
Jaxson Dart – QB – 6-3, 210 – Kaysville, UT (Corner Canyon)
Xamarion Gordon – DB – 6-2, 190 – Houston, TX (Warren)
Michael Jackson III – WR – 6-0, 200 – Las Vegas, NV (Desert Pines)
Lake McRee – TE – 6-5, 220 – Austin, TX (Lake Travis)
Miller Moss – QB – 6-2, 200 – Los Angeles, CA (Bishop Alemany)
Julien Simon – LB – 6-2, 220 – Tacoma, WA (Lincoln)
Jay Toia – DL – 6-3, 325 – Inglewood, CA (Grace Brethren)
High School fall enrollees
Prophet Brown – DB – 6-0, 180 – Sacramento, CA (Monterey Trail)
Ty Buchanan – OL – 6-6, 290 – Corpus Christi, TX (Calallen)
Maximus Gibbs – OL 6-6, 360 – Norwalk, CA (St. John Bosco)
Joseph Manjack IV – WR 6-4, 200 – Tomball, TX (Tomball Memorial)
Colin Mobley – DL 6-4, 270 – Washington, D.C. (DeMatha Catholic)
Mason Murphy – OL 6-6, 290 – Riverside, CA (JSerra Catholic)
Jaylin Smith – DB 5-11, 180 – Palmdale, CA (Bishop Alemany)
Michael Trigg – TE 6-5, 230 – Tampa, FL (Carrollwood Day)
Kyron Ware-Hudson – WR 6-2, 205 – Duarte, CA (Mater Dei)