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USC lands in the top 8 for elite DT Maason Smith

Five-star defensive tackle Maason Smith (Houma, La./Terrebonne) announced his top eight schools on Saturday and USC was included among some recruiting heavyweights.

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, Oregon and USC made the cut for Smith, the five-star, 6-foot-5, 316-pound defensive tackle.

He’s the nation’s No. 20 overall prospect and the No. 2 defensive tackle nationally. He possesses an uncommon combination of size and athleticism that makes him a terrific prospect. And that ability makes him versatile and a good fit in any defensive front–a major asset for USC defensive coordinator Todd Orlando.

USC has an interesting angle with Smith, as he and No. 1 overall prospect Korey Foreman (Corona, Calif./Centennial) have developed a strong relationship throughout the recruiting process. The two have talked extensively about playing at the same school and USC is doing well with Foreman at this point. But landing a local prospect in Foreman and going across the country for Smith–a coveted prospect with a number of SEC finalists–are two different things. And Smith is considered a significant lean to LSU at this point, which makes this recruitment an uphill battle for the USC coaches.

Getting him on campus for a visit is a must, but the recruiting dead period has been extended through August, and there’s no guarantee at this point that it will resume on Sept. 1. LSU is also a legitimate option for Foreman, and now Alabama, Georgia and Oregon have been mentioned as potential finalists for both players.

USC holds a commitment from four-star defensive tackle Jay Toia (Simi Valley, Calif./Grace Brethren) in this class, as well as three-star defensive end Colin Mobley (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic). The USC defensive line targets remaining who are more likely to wind up at USC are defensive ends Tiaoalii Savea (Las Vegas/Desert Pines) and Aaron Armitage (Blairstown, NJ/Blair Academy)–both four-star prospects–but the Trojans are swinging for the fences in looking to add another defensive tackle, as Smith and fellow five-star tackle Damon Payne (Belleville, Mich./Belleville) are top targets.

USC defensive line coach Vic So’oto hasn’t been shy about going after the nation’s best in the 2021 and 2022 classes, and he’ll take on the challenge of going after Smith.

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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