Two Trojan linebacker greats are officially headed back to USC as part of the support staff, as Chris Claiborne and Hayes Pullard will join the USC program as Quality Control Analysts, USC head coach Clay Helton announced Thursday morning.
Claiborne and Pullard were hired prior to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent hiring freeze at USC, but agreed to delay their starts until June 1, according to a release from the school. Claiborne was announced as an Offensive Quality Control Assistant, while Pullard will be a Defensive Quality Control Assistant.
The two are some of the most accomplished linebackers in USC history.
Claiborne was USC’s first Butkus Award winner, given to the nation’s top linebacker. He won the award in 1998, when he had 120 tackles and six interceptions. He finished his three-year career with 312 tackles and became a first-round pick (ninth overall) of the Detroit Lions. Claiborne was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018.
Pullard finished with 377 tackles in his four-year USC career–good for sixth all-time in USC history. According to USC, he was the first Trojan since Dennis Johnson in 1977-79 to lead the team in tackles in three seasons. He was a seventh-round selection of the Cleveland Browns in 2015 and played for the Browns, Jaguars and Chargers until 2018.
These are huge hires, both for the help they’ll provide to the on-field product as cerebral players who can break down film and serve as major assets to defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Todd Orlando and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, as well as their abilities on the recruiting trail–though the recruiting scope of the position is slightly limited.
Claiborne has served as a mentor to a number of recruits over the years, both as the head coach at Calabasas in 2018 and 2019, as well as his work founding the 7-on-7 team, Frat Boyz. He’s also privately trained players in the area and run youth football camps.
Pullard was a star at Crenshaw High School and will be able to use those connections and his path from Los Angeles to USC and onto the NFL as a guide for prospects on the trail.
Quality control coaches differ from full-time assistants in that they are unable to provide on-field coaching to players. They may attend meetings between coaches and student athletes but may not engage in coaching activities during them. The biggest responsibility is breaking down film of upcoming opponents and providing any analysis or evaluations for the coaching staff. Quality control coaches may be at practice to track stats or keep a play chart, and they can be in a game huddle to provide words of encouragement, provided they give no coaching instructions.
On the recruiting front, quality control coaches may prepare and send recruiting materials and be present for on-campus recruiting events, but cannot have a say in which players get recruited or analyzing recruit film.