Without any on-field work being done at the moment, USC coaches have been free to shift much of their focus to recruiting for the time being. And focus they have, as the Trojans are generating some significant momentum on the trail and are in the mix for some top prospects in the 2021 class.
On Monday, two top-100 prospects released their top lists, with USC mentioned by both.
The recruiting battle where USC likely has the better chance lies with wide receiver Troy Franklin (Menlo Park, Calif./Menlo-Atherton). The four-star receiver is the nation’s No. 30 overall prospect, the No. 4 wide receiver, and sits right below Clemson defensive end commit Korey Foreman (Corona, Calif./Centennial), USC quarterback commit Jake Garcia (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) and LSU linebacker commit Raesjon Davis (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) in the California prospect pecking order.
Signing the top wide receiver prospect in the state of California has become an annual event for USC, as the Trojans have done it each of the past five years, signing Gary Bryant, Kyle Ford, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Joseph Lewis and Tyler Vaughns from the 2016-2020 classes.
Franklin represents a sizable challenge for the Trojans, as he also has Alabama, Arizona State, LSU, Oregon and Washington on his list, and unlike those previous five signees, he does not reside close to the USC campus in Southern California.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Franklin took unofficial visits to Oregon, USC and Washington last summer.
Alabama and LSU represent two of the hottest teams in the nation on and off the field, and neither has been shy about looking into California for top prospects. Arizona State has used coaching connections in the state to flex its muscle as well, as no school did better overall with California prospects last recruiting cycle than the Sun Devils.
Wide receiver is an interesting position for the Trojans in this class, as USC is going to recruit prospects against a loaded depth chart. But the Trojans, under offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, are likely to be able to pitch production and a chance at early playing time, as USC’s top four wide receivers last season outpaced the top group from any other Pac-12 program, and true freshman Drake London caught 39 passes for 567 yards and touchdowns in each of the final five games of the season.
The other top prospect to include USC on his list of finalists was four-star cornerback Latrell McCutchin (Austin, Texas/LBJ). The 6-foot-1, 176-pound cornerback is the nation’s No. 98 overall prospect and No. 10 cornerback.
He’s coming off a torn ACL that cost him his junior season, but that hasn’t caused many programs to back away from his recruitment. McCutchin initially committed to Alabama last June but backed away from that in early March in the immediate aftermath of an unofficial visit to Oklahoma.
Clearly, the Sooners are poised as the team to beat for McCutchin, but Alabama also remains involved. McCutchin’s recently-released top 10 list includes both programs, as well as Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Tennessee, USC and Virginia Tech.
USC has as much momentum as any program in Texas right now, as the Trojans recently landed a commitment from running back Brandon Campbell (Katy, Texas/Katy) and are mentioned as a potential destination for other Lone Star State prospects. It bodes well that McCutchin appears focused on leaving his home state, but it’ll take some impressive recruiting from USC cornerbacks coach Donte Williams to get him out to Southern California.
More offers extended
USC jumped into the mix for 2022 5-star linebacker Shawn Murphy (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson).
Murphy holds offers from the usual suspects, considering he’s the No. 3 overall prospect in his class, as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon and others have already offered. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando will be challenged in this recruitment, but he could get some significant help from defensive line coach Vic So’oto, who is very well-known and respected in that area from his time at Virginia.
And speaking of So’oto, USC extended an offer to 2021 defensive tackle Anquin Barnes (Montgomery, Ala./Robert E. Lee) on Tuesday. The 6-foot-5, 299-pound Barnes is a three-star prospect, but he’s another recent USC offeree whose recruiting profile doesn’t exactly match his offer sheet.
Barnes holds offers from both in-state powers in Alabama and Auburn, as well as Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and others. Barnes said his recruitment is wide open, but the Crimson Tide or Tigers should be tough to beat here.
While USC might be considered a little late to the party for those two prospects, the Trojans are in early on 2022 linebacker Harold Perkins (Cypress, Texas/Cy Park). The 6-foot-1, 190-pound outside linebacker added a USC offer on Monday, and it’s just the third offer so far for Perkins, as Baylor and Tulsa had previously offered.
Perkins tallied 27 tackles, five sacks, six pass deflections, one interception and one fumble recovery as a sophomore playing standup outside linebacker. He also played some quarterback and running back, picking up 550 total yards and four touchdowns.
And back in Virginia, USC offered three-star cornerback Damond Harmon (Highland Springs, Va./Highland Springs) over the weekend. Harmon is another tall cornerback–6-foot-1, 178-pounds–offered by USC cornerbacks coach Donte Williams.
Harmon is also one of the more sought-after prospects at his position, as he already holds offers from Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech and others.
Combining both defensive line recruiting and Virginia recruiting, USC also offered four-star defensive tackle Tyleik Williams (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson) a teammate of Shawn Murphy.
The four-star prospect checks in at 6-foot-3, 315 pounds and as the nation’s No. 15 defensive tackle.
Williams is another new USC target who already holds an offer from Alabama. Local programs in Virginia and Virginia Tech are also after him.