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USC Class of 2017

The Trojans signed 18 players today as part of the Class of 2017, to go along with 5 early enrollees who are already on campus for the spring semester. There are also plans to bring in a blueshirt in the fall to count against the Class of 2018. 

The Class of 2017 group for USC was a consensus top-5 recruiting class by the 4 recruiting services, and the top class in the Pac-12. 

QB Jack Sears

6-3, 200

San Clemente HS

Composite ranking: 4 stars

Position outlook: Is an early enrollee and will get a chance to compete with Matt Fink and Jalen Greene for the back-up spot to Sam Darnold.

Player comparison: I hesitate to say this but Sam Darnold. It’s natural when you see Sears to make the comparison because of the San Clemente system which has them playing in the same attacking style. Both can throw and run, and Sears was able to lead San Clemente to the first-ever CIF and State titles for the school.


RB Stephen Carr

6-0, 200

Summit HS

Composite ranking: 5 stars

Position outlook: He’ll be joining a deep group so I can understand the case for redshirting but there’s little doubt he’s good enough to step in and contribute right away if needed.

Player comparison: Deshaun Foster. I’m not looking to praise a Bruin (although Foster would have been a Trojan if JR didn’t think he was a DB), but that is who Carr reminds me of. Stephen has terrific vision, understands the cutback and can catch the ball out of the backfield. One of the best RB’s we’ve seen from the area in a long time.


WR Joseph Lewis

6-2, 205

Hawkins HS

Composite ranking: 5 stars

Position outlook: Chances are that Lewis steps in and becomes the #4 receiver on the outside behind Pittman, Imatorbhebhe and Vaughns.

Player comparison: Darreus Rogers. Solidly built and catches everything.


WR Randal Grimes

6-4, 205

Desert Pines HS

Composite ranking: 3 stars

Position outlook: A redshirt year makes sense. Grimes could use some development and there should be plenty of other bodies at this spot.

Player comparison: Brice Butler. Tall and lean with long arms. Randal played QB for his HS team this year and did it well.


TE Josh Falo

6-5, 235

Inderkum HS

Composite ranking: 4 stars

Position outlook: Will join a deep tight end group but he could get on the field early by virtue of his unique downfield passing capabilities.

Player comparison:


TE Erik Krommenhoek

6-5, 245

Monte Vista HS

Composite ranking: 3 stars

Position outlook: The Trojans should be three deep next year with Imatorbhebhe, Petite and Angeline so it stands to reason that Krommenhoek would redshirt.

Player comparison: Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. Jalen was a solid blocker and was only getting better as a pass catcher before academic issues sidetracked him.


OL Alijah Vera-Tucker

6-4, 270

Bishop O’Dowd HS

Composite ranking: 4 stars

Position outlook: Our projection is that Vera-Tucker will eventually be a guard, and he should redshirt.

Player comparison: Frank Martin. Both players rely on strength as a key part of their game. Vera-Tucker helped lead Bishop O’Dowd to state title.


OL Brett Neilon

6-2, 280

Santa Margarita HS

Composite ranking: 4 stars

Position outlook: Will likely redshirt this year and then compete with Cole Smith to replace Nico Falah in 2018.

Player comparison: Ryan Kalil. Physical, tough and a solid Trinity League background.


OL Andrew Vorhees

6-6, 290

Kingsburg HS

Composite ranking: 3 stars

Position outlook: Vorhees is a tackle prospect, although it’s unclear if he will get a look on the left or right side. Should redshirt to spend year in weight room.

Player comparison: Nick Howell. Another product from the San Joaquin Valley, both players have frames that should grow well at the college level.


OL Jalen McKenzie

6-5, 305

Clayton Valley HS

Composite ranking: 3 stars

Position outlook: There has been some chatter about Jalen playing guard but we think he’s headed to tackle. Our initial thought would be the right side but would not rule out left tackle. A blueshirt arrival in the fall who will likely redshirt.

Player comparison: Aundrey Walker. Both have the kind of overwhelming size that screams potential for the tackle spot.


OL Austin Jackson

6-6, 280

North Canyon (AZ) HS

Composite ranking: 4 stars

Position outlook: Good feet and quick hands make Austin a nice tackle prospect, plus he’s a Trojan legacy.

Player comparison: Chuma Edoga. He’s got similar athleticism to Chuma and is even a little bigger.


DL Marlon Tuipulotu

6-3, 290

Central (OR) HS

Composite ranking: 4 stars

Position outlook: It will be very interesting to see where the coaches line him up in spring. Will it be at nose? There is certainly an opening with Stevie T gone. Or will Clancy Pendergast go to more of a 3-interior linemen look, and line him up opposite Rasheem Green with Kenny Bigelow in the middle.

Player comparison: Fili Moala. Good height and fairly lean frame for an interior defensive lineman, along with good athleticism and strength (Oregon state wrestling champ).


DL Hunter Echols

6-4, 245

Cathedral HS

Composite ranking: 4 stars

Position outlook: Will take his spot in the rotation as an edge rusher, we project him lining up behind Uchenna Nwosu to begin his career.

Player comparison: Lawrence Jackson. An edge rusher with a strong combination of size and speed.


DL Brandon Pili

6-4, 310

Westview (OR) HS

Composite ranking: 3 stars

Position outlook: Pili comes in as an interior defensive lineman and there is opportunity for immediate time in the rotation.

Player comparison: Manuel Wright. There aren’t many who have the skill set of size, strength and athletic ability the way Wright and Pili do.


DL Jacob Lichtenstein

6-5, 245

Cypress Bay (FL) HS

Composite ranking: 3 stars

Position outlook: Will be an OLB/DE and he should redshirt next year with good depth at the position. There’s always a chance he grows into an interior player at some point.

Player comparison: Connor Murphy. Both offer tall options coming off the edge with long wingspans.


DT Jay Tufele

6-3, 295

Bingham (UT) HS

Composite ranking: 4 stars

Position outlook: Another outstanding addition to the interior of the d-line, Tufele moves really well and can play the run.

Player comparison: Shaun Cody. Very strong lower body combined with surprising athleticism.


LB Tayler Katoa

6-2, 220

Layton (UT) HS

Composite ranking: 3 stars

Position outlook: There’s a chance he ends up outside but we think Katoa ends up inside, and potentially playing a role as a reserve and special teams contributor next year.

Player comparison: Lofa Tatupu. Another former HS quarterback who brings that knowledge to the defensive side of the ball.


LB Juliano Falaniko

6-4, 205

Leone (Samoa) HS

Composite ranking: 3 stars

Position outlook: We can see the coaches wanting to use Falaniko in much the same way Su’a Cravens was used as an OLB, and that would mean a redshirt year to bulk up.

Player comparison: Mike Morgan. Both are on the skinny side coming into SC, and Morgan just finished up his 6th year in the NFL.


LB Levi Jones

6-3, 215

Westlake (TX) HS

Composite ranking: 4 stars

Position outlook: Terrific athlete with good genes (dad was a Super Bowl champion, 2 brothers played college ball last year).

Player comparison: Uchenna Nwosu. Both players have good pursuit ability and a nose for the ball.


S Bubba Bolden

6-3, 188

Bishop Gorman (NV) HS

Composite ranking: 4 stars

Position outlook: It’s a deep safety group but it’s hard to imagine that Bolden would redshirt.

Player comparison: Taylor Mays. Both have similar size and reputations for physical play. From what I’ve seen from Bolden so far, his ball skills are better than Taylor’s.


S Isaiah Pola-Mao

6-4, 190

Mountain Pointe (AZ) HS

Composite ranking: 4 stars

Position outlook: Our guess right now is that Pola-Mao would be more likely than Bolden to redshirt, as you would definitely want to redshirt at least one of them.

Player comparison: Jamel Cook. Rangy height and powerful hitting ability.


CB Jay Godfrey

6-1, 175

Bishop O’Dowd HS

Composite ranking: 3 stars

Position outlook: A redshirt year is likely as the Trojans have good depth at corner.

Player comparison: Terrell Thomas. Both have good enough height to consider playing safety and they are very physical tacklers from the corner spot.


CB Greg Johnson

5-10, 185

Hawkins HS

Composite ranking: 4 stars

Position outlook: A versatile athlete who is scheduled to play corner for the Trojans, and he shines in the press coverage style that Clancy likes his corners to play.

Player comparison: Justin Wyatt. Both could have been running backs or slot receivers, but defense ended up being their calling.


LS Damon Johnson

6-0, 205

Citrus College

Composite ranking: 2 stars

Position outlook: The long snapper position is open and the Trojans used a scholarship on Johnson, that means they expect him to start right away.


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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