Looking at the past week’s news and notes from the recruiting trail for the USC Trojans, including a new commitment, several new offers, missing on a top lineman and landing on a five-star’s top list.
Simon says USC
The biggest news of the week came Sunday, as four-star athlete Julien Simon (Tacoma, Wash./Lincoln) announced his commitment to USC. Simon is the third top-100 prospect to commit to USC in this class. He’ll play inside linebacker for USC and is the kind of player who could see early playing time due to his combination of size–6-foot-2, 220-pounds–overall athleticism, and incredible football IQ.
This USC staff is going to be on the right side of a lot of important recruiting battles if they stick together for several years, but it’s tough to overstate how big of a win this one is. Going into Washington to grab a guy that was a big-time target for every Pac-12 program as well as some national powers is something that absolutely makes a statement.
New offers extended
The Trojans extended a few offers to young prospects this week, as 2022 defensive end Francois Nolton (Miami/Edison) and 2023 defensive end Justin Benton (Covington, Ga./Newton) and 2023 athlete Jayden Wayne (Tacoma, Wash./Lincoln) are now on USC’s offer board.
Nolton is a 6-foot-4, 225-pound, four-star defensive end who has picked up some major recruiting attention recently, as Alabama, Florida and LSU all offered in a two-day span in late April. Florida State, Miami and several others have offered as well. He called the recent offer onslaught “crazy,” and while he is clear across the country with every in-state option available, Nolton is plenty familiar with the USC brand.
“I know USC is one of the top football schools,” Nolton said. “The school has a lot of good players who went there and won championships.”
This will be a recruitment spearheaded by defensive line coach Vic So’oto, who has been following Nolton since his time at Virginia. But other coaches will join the chase, and Nolton said he looks forward to getting to know the entire USC staff.
“I’m open to all schools, but USC is a school I’m going to look at,” Nolton said. “Distance is not a problem to me.”
Wayne became an interesting offer with Sunday’s news of Simon’s commitment, as the two are high school teammates. Wayne is already a very intriguing athlete, at 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds. He plays defensive end and as a standup linebacker on defense, and wide receiver on offense. He’s similar to Simon in that it might take a bit before schools know exactly where he fits in terms of a specific position, but he shows enough flashes everywhere he plays for Oregon, Tennessee and USC to have made early offers.
Benton is a big-time defensive end, who already has offers from Florida State, Georgia, Oregon, Tennessee and others. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect will be a top target for Georgia and any number of SEC programs.
Trojans make a trio of top lists
Three 2021 prospects released top lists this week that included USC on them. The highest-ranked prospect was five-star offensive tackle Tristan Leigh (Fairfax, Va./Robinson Secondary), who released a list of his top 15 schools. Leigh is the nation’s No. 13 overall prospect and No. 3 offensive tackle, and while USC will certainly recruit the 6-foot-6, 285-pound prospect, it’s tough at this point to see the Trojans able to overcome the distance and the lead that schools closer to home have for Leigh.
His top 15 certainly doesn’t seem to be created equal, as he named Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, UCF, USC, Virginia and Virginia Tech, but appears to have a few schools standing out. Clemson, LSU, Ohio State, Penn State and the two in-state schools would seem to have a clear lead in this race, as he has visited most of them a few times to this point.
A prospect that USC would appear to have a much better shot with is four-star athlete Nathaniel Wiggins (Atlanta/Westlake).
USC is one of three programs to offer the four-star athlete–ranked as the nation’s No. 195 overall prospect–in the past few weeks and wind up in his top eight schools. Florida and Oregon are the other two, and those programs join Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Tennessee and Texas in a list of recruiting heavyweights going after the nation’s No. 11 athlete.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Wiggins is a guy who could truly play wide receiver, cornerback or safety in college, and is a little reminiscent of USC commitment Calen Bullock in that regard. USC is recruiting him as a cornerback, and that 6-foot-2 frame and outstanding athleticism will certainly help him there.
When Wiggins picked up the offer from the Trojans in mid-April, teammate and fellow 2021 prospect Demarko Williams tweeted to him: “this the one we been waiting on fam #Fighton“
USC also recently offered 2023 Atlanta Westlake cornerback Avieon Terrell.
Wiggins video releasing his top 8 schools:
USC also continues to be in the mix for four-star cornerback Deuce Harmon (Denton, Texas/Guyer). There doesn’t seem to be much of a chance the 5-foot-9, 185-pound prospect gets out of Texas–and specifically, gets away from Texas A&M–at this point, but USC is among seven finalists, joining Notre Dame, Oregon, SMU, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M.
Walden commits to Oregon
It wasn’t all good recruiting news for USC this week, as the Trojans lost one of the top offensive tackle prospects in the region. Four-star lineman Bram Walden (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro) announced his commitment to Oregon, as the Ducks continue stockpiling offensive line talent.
The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Walden is the nation’s No. 84 overall prospect and No. 14 offensive tackle. He’d visited the Trojans just before the mandatory dead period this spring, but Oregon was long thought to be the leader. The Ducks signed Walden’s high school teammate, fellow offensive lineman Jaylen Jeffers in the 2020 class, and Oregon continues to make its presence known in the state of Arizona.
The Ducks now hold commitments from two of the top three prospects in Arizona–quarterback Ty Thompson (Gilbert, Ariz./Mesquite) is the other–and might not be done there.