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USC makes top lists for two priority 2021 targets

The USC Trojans were likely set to make a strong recruiting push this spring, as the combination of a new approach from an aggressive defensive staff, a larger number of available scholarships and a spring ball with more than a few visitors set to attend was going to lead to the Trojans either landing commitments or landing on the final lists of some of their top targets.

Now, stuck in the same predicament every other program is facing–unable to host unofficial or official visitors until at least April 15–it’s up to the USC staff to continue to generate recruiting momentum in the absence of in-person contact. Many recruits are continuing to commit and narrow their top-schools lists, and USC received good news on Monday from two of their top targets at positions of need in the 2021 class.

First, running back Brandon Campbell (Rosenberg, Texas/Lamar Consolidated) released his top six schools, with USC joined by Alabama, LSU, Florida, Penn State and TCU. The Trojans should be in a good spot with the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Campbell, as the Trojans’ offensive staff has made a really positive impression since offering last May.

There are a couple of standout running backs in California, in Byron Cardwell (San Diego/Morse) and Prophet Brown (Elk Grove, Calif./Monterey Trail), and the Trojans have offered both. But it’s clear that USC and this offensive staff is going to recruit Texas hard, especially on the offensive side of the ball, where offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, running backs coach Mike Jinks and tight ends coach John David Baker have extensive roots.

Jinks’ relationship with Campbell might wind up being the difference in this race, as the Trojans entered the picture before some of the big Texas schools, and now only TCU remains as the lone in-state option.

USC has offered a handful of Texas running backs in this class, and while the Trojans don’t appear to be in the running for elite backs in Camar Wheaton (Garland, Texas/Lakeview Centennial) and LJ Johnson (Cypress, Texas/Cy-Fair), they will certainly be players for Campbell, and have also extended offers to Tavierre Dunlap (Del Valle, Texas/Del Valle) and Jordan Jenkins (Lindale, Texas/Lindale).

If USC can corral a couple of those Texas tailbacks, it wouldn’t be the first time in recent memory, as Ronald Jones and Aca’Cedric Ware both came to USC from the Lone Star State in the 2015 recruiting class.

A little closer to home, USC also made the top list for cornerback Jaylin Davies (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei). Davies included the Trojans among his top seven programs, as Alabama, Arizona State, Ohio State, Texas, UCLA, USC and Washington are his finalists.

This is absolutely a recruiting battle to watch for USC, as Davies is a top in-state prospect at a position of need from an elite high school program.

USC did well to get Davies on campus in early March for its elite Junior Day and the Trojans defensive staff will undoubtedly continue to push hard for Davies. USC cleaned up at Mater Dei High School in the 2018 class, signing quarterback JT Daniels, wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu–all national prospects. In the 2019 class, USC wound up with wide receiver Bru McCoy but missed on linebacker Mase Funa, and saw defensive lineman Keyon Ware-Hudson, defensive back Jeremiah Criddell and running back Sean Dollars head elsewhere. And in 2020, USC suffered the double gut punch of watching offensive lineman Myles Murao sign with Washington, and quarterback Bryce Young flip from USC to Alabama.

Getting back on the board at Mater Dei with a prospect like Davies should only help USC in its attempt to flip LSU linebacker commit Raesjon Davis, and make an impression with sophomores in wide receiver CJ Williams and defensive back Domani Jackson, and freshmen offensive lineman BJ Tolo and linebacker Leviticus Su’a.

USC built a strong start to its 2021 class last year, as quarterback Jake Garcia (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and defensive tackle Jay Toia (Simi Valley, Calif./Grace Brethren) were all committed by October. The Trojans added a commitment from offensive lineman Mason Murphy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./JSerra) in early March.

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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