By Johnny Curren
With the Trojans coaching staff set to focus their full attention on fall camp, which is set to start up in less than a week now, it’s worth taking a quick look at what kind of progress they’ve made in regard to the 2017 recruiting class in recent months.
Set to officially add kicker Michael Brown and Utah graduate-transfer defensive lineman Stevie Tu’ikolovatu to the roster come the second day of camp as blueshirts, USC head coach Clay Helton and Co. appear to have a total of 23 scholarships available for the Class of 2017. With nine current verbal pledges, that means that the Trojans have a total of 14 remaining spots.
With that said, here is a position-by-position glance at where USC stands today when it comes to the Class of 2017.
Notable targets: Jack Sears (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente), Tua Tagovailoa (Honolulu, Hawaii/St. Louis)
While the Trojans already possess a verbal pledge from a highly regarded Class of 2018 signal-caller in Matt Corral (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), there’s little doubt that the coaching staff has a strong desire to still sign one quarterback from the Class of 2017 as well. At this point, they’re waiting on Sears, who is set to make a decision before the end of the summer, with the Trojans, Duke, UCLA and Utah sitting as his final four. If he doesn’t commit to USC, it will be interesting to see if the staff begins to spread a wider net, or if they opt to go all in on Tagovailoa, who is currently committed to Alabama, but has stated that he will still take an official visit to USC.
Commits (1): Stephen Carr (Fontana, Calif./Summit)
Notable targets: Salvon Ahmed (Kirkland, Wash./Juanita), Najee Harris (Antioch, Calif./Antioch), Sione Heimuli-Lund (Salt Lake City, Utah/Brighton), Bruce Jordan-Swilling (New Orleans, La./Brother Martin)
In Carr the Trojans already possess one of the most talented tailbacks around, but the staff continues to court a number of other prospects at the same position as well. That includes Harris, an Alabama commit regarded by many as the No. 1 rusher in the country. He recently visited campus during the Rising Stars Camp, but it’s hard to imagine both he and Carr winding up at the same college. Ahmed is a fantastic athlete who might also wind up at cornerback, and he has USC in his current top 5. Heimuli-Lund, a potential fullback in USC’s offense, is currently committed to Stanford, but he admitted that his recent offer from the Trojans was one that he’s been waiting for.
Commits (2): Randal Grimes (Las Vegas, Nev./Desert Pines), Marlon Williams (Mobile, Ala./McGill-Toolen)
Notable targets: Juwan Burgess (Tampa, Fla./Plant), Jeremiah Hollomon (Covington, Ga./Newton), Joseph Lewis (Los Angeles, Calif./Hawkins), Tyjon Lindsey (Corona, Calif./Centennial), D.J. Matthews (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian), Donovan People-Jones (Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech), James Robinson (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland), Osiris St. Brown (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei)
The Trojans have two wide receiver commits in the fold in Grimes and Williams, but they will likely take at least one more if they can, with Lewis and Lindsey standing out as two elite prospects who are right in their backyard. It’s looking more and more likely that Lindsey will head out-of-state, but USC is still very much in the mix for Lewis, who is also considering Alabama, Arizona, Nebraska, Tennessee and UCLA among others.
Commits (1): Erik Krommenhoek (Danville, Calif./Monte Vista)
Notable targets: Josh Falo (Sacramento, Calif./Inderkum), Jimmy Jaggers (Roseville, Calif./Roseville), Tyler Johnson (Gilbert, Ariz./Highland)
Krommenhoek brings an excellent all-around skill-set to the fold at the tight end position for the Trojans. Likely to add one more recruit here, Falo might be the most intriguing prospect. Standing 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, he’s an outstanding receiver with sky-high potential. USC is also heavily involved with Jaggers, another in-state prospect with an extremely impressive offer sheet. In addition to the Trojans, he’s looking at the likes of Alabama, Florida, Michigan, UCLA and Washington among others.
Commits (2): Brett Neilon (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic), Andrew Vorhees (Kingburg, Calif./Kingsburg)
Notable targets: Popo Aumavae (Stockton, Calif./St. Mary’s), Henry Bainivalu (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline), Aaron Banks (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito), Wyatt Davis (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Navaughn Donaldson (Miami, Fla./Central), Curtis Dunlap Jr. (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy), Chuck Filiaga (Aledo, Texas/Aledo), Austin Jackson (Phoenix, Ariz./North Canyon), Alex Leatherwood (Pensacola, Fla./Booker T. Washington), Foster Sarrell (Graham, Wash./Graham-Kapowsin), Alijah Vera-Tucker (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O’Dowd), Isaiah Wilson (Brooklyn, N.Y./Poly Prep Country Day), Stephan Zabie (Austin, Texas/Westlake)
Neilon and Vorhees give the Trojans a great start along the offensive line, with Neilon likely to end up at either center or guard, and Vorhees at either tackle or guard. The Trojans certainly aren’t done here, though, with some very big names on their radar. In-state prospects like Aumavae, Banks and Vera-Tucker still have USC on their list. Out-of-state, Jackson has been extremely quiet when it comes to his recruitment, but USC is definitely very much in the running for the talented tackle. It will be interesting to see if the USC staff can continue to build up the relationship that they developed with Filiaga now that he lives in Texas. From Florida, Leatherwood, an Alabama commit, and Donaldson, a Miami (Fla.) pledge, made it out to USC’s Rising Stars Camp, and both said afterwards that they plan to return for an official visit.
Interior Defensive line
Notable targets: Cortez Alston (Atlanta, Ga./Westminster), Joe Anderson (Wesson, Miss./Copiah-Lincoln C.C.), Martin Andrus (Los Angeles, Calif./Los Angeles), Corey Bethley (Katy, Texas, Katy), Gabe Cherry (Bakersfield, Calif./Centennial), Elijah Conliffe (Hampton, Va./Hampton), Damion Daniels (Dallas, Texas/Bishop Dunne), Noah Ellis (Highlands Ranch, Colo.,/Valor Christian), Neil Farrell (Mobile, Ala./Murphy), Jon Ford (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard), Ali Gaye (Edmonds, Wash./Edmonds-Woodway), Fred Hansard (Princeton, N.J./The Hun School of Princeton), Malik Herring (Forsyth, Ga./Mary Persons), Alec Jackson (Montgomery, Ala./Jefferson Davis), Terrance Lang (Pasadena, Calif./Maranatha), Phidarian Mathis (Monroe, La./Neville), Tyree Owens (Wesson, Miss./Copiah-Lincoln CC), Greg Rogers (Las Vegas, Nev./Arbor View), Jay Tufele (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham), Deiontae Watts (Plano, Texas/Plano East), Marvin Wilson (Bellaire, Texas/Episcopal)
The Trojans don’t have any interior defensive linemen in the fold from the Class of 2017 just yet, but it stands to reason that they will take three to four here, and they’re in on some very big names. Locally, the staff is still doing very well with Andrus and Lang, but both prospects appear set on going through the entire process. Out-of-state, meanwhile, Rogers, Tufele and Wilson are three extremely highly rated prospects whom the USC staff is known to covet. All three prospects have been on campus in recent months, with Wilson – who is thought by many to be the top defensive tackle in the nation – stopping by just within the last week. Conliffe, Ford, Gaye and Jackson all participated in the Rising Stars Camp. Herring just released a top five that featured Alabama, Clemson, USC, Georgia and LSU.
Commits (1): Juliano Falaniko (Pago Pago, American Samoa/Leone)
Notable targets: Michael Allen (Lakeland, Ga./Lanier County), Hunter Echols (Los Angeles, Calif./Cathedral), Taquon Graham (Temple, Texas/Temple), Addison Gumbs (Hayward, Calif./Stellar Prep), Jaden Hunter (Atlanta, Ga./Westlake), Odua Isibor (Phoenix, Ariz./Saint Mary’s), Brandon James (Miami, Fla./Southridge), My-King Johnson (Tempe, Ariz./Tempe), Levi Jones (Austin, Texas/Westlake), Jacob Lichtenstein (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay), Dylan Moses (Bradenton, Fla/IMG Academy), Jordan Wright (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard), Chase Young (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic)
USC’s only commit on the outside at this time, Falaniko, is an outstanding athlete out of American Samoa with 6-foot-4, 202-pound size. He should make a nice fit in Clancy Pendergast’s defense coming off the edge. Among the Trojans’ remaining targets at the position, Echols recently decommitted from UCLA, and USC is now a major player for his services along with Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame and others. Gumbs had stated earlier this summer that he would announce a decision this month, but it now looks like he will take his time with the process. USC is battling the likes of Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M and UCLA for his services. Lichtenstein was just on campus this past weekend for an unofficial visit that went extremely well.
Commits (1): Daniel Green (Portland, Ore./Madison)
Notable targets: Anthony Hines (Plano, Texas/Plano East)
Green committed to USC soon after receiving his offer from the Trojans in late May. Possessing 6-foot-2, 230-pound size and a physical brand of play, he fits the mold of a prototypical MIKE linebacker. Soon after Green committed, Sampson Niu, another inside linebacker who was on the Trojans’ radar, gave a verbal pledge to Oregon. Hines is an extreme long shot, and while it appears as though USC just isn’t involved with very many inside linebackers right now, a number of players listed as outside linebackers, such as Gumbs and Jones, could potentially line up there on the next level.
Commits (1): C.J. Miller (Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern)
Notable targets: Bubba Bolden (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman), Cyrus Fagan (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland), K.J. Jarrell (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro), Jeffrey Okudah (Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie), Isaiah Pola-Moa (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe), Derrick Smith (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian), A.J. Terrell (Atlanta, Ga./Westlake)
With the recent decommitment of Bolden, USC currently has one safety commit in Miller, who first caught the attention of the USC coaches at a pair of satellite camps earlier this summer. Bolden says that he is still going to consider USC, but he has official visits lined up to Arizona State, Colorado and UCLA, and those programs are thought to have an edge now. Jarrell took an unofficial visit to USC soon after receiving an offer this summer, and he now says that he will likely be back for an official. He is also looking at ASU and Washington among others.
Notable targets: Trajan Bandy (Miami, Fla./Christopher Columbus), Sam Barnes (Richmond, Texas/George Ranch), Elijah Blades (Padsadena, Calif./Muir), Shawn Davis (Miami, Fla./Southridge), Wylan Free (Lynwood, Calif./Lynwood), Thomas Graham Jr. (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga), Elijah Hicks (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada), Darnay Holmes (Calabasas, Calif./Calabasas), Jaylon Johnson (Fresno, Calif./Central), Quentin Lake (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), Elijah Molden (West Linn, Fla./West Linn), Jaylon Redd (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga), Jaylan Shaw (Corona, Calif./Centennial), Tre Swilling (New Orleans, La./Brother Martin), Ambry Thomas (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King), Shawn Wade (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian), Marco Wilson (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage)
Similar to the situation at safety, USC had a defection at the cornerback spot this summer in Thomas Graham Jr. Likely to take up to three players at the position, the USC staff is still heavily involved with a number of prospects here. That includes the highly acclaimed Holmes, who wasn’t even considering the Trojans a few months back. After taking an unofficial visit to campus, however, he now has USC in the mix with Nebraska, Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA, Washington and others. USC has been doing well with Johnson for quite awhile, and they’re in the top 4 for Molden. Blades, Free, Hicks, Lake, Shaw and Swilling are among the most recent targets to receive offers from USC. Wilson, who was at the Rising Stars Camp, is another prospect to keep an eye on. He’s set to announce his decision on Monday.