There was a lot of celebrating for the Trojans in the class of 2017 when Clay Helton signed five players on each side of the line, and it turned out to be a high quality group that should form a strong foundation in the trenches in the coming years.
There was also hope that the 2018 class would follow that up with another good showing on the line to further solidify things up front, ideally we would have liked to see at least three bodies on each side of the ball, and a fourth if it made sense. As we sit here a day before signing day, however, there is the possibility those numbers may not match up.
On the offensive line there are currently two commitments (Justin Dedich is already enrolled, Liam Douglass is signed and will arrive in the fall) with a big target waiting to announce tomorrow in Penei Sewell. If Penei chooses the Trojans it would make three players on the line, and you have to imagine the coaches would be content with that number. If Penei heads elsewhere there aren’t any clear candidates to fill an OL spot at the end so it’s possible there would only be two OL in the class.
On the d-line, there were three verbal commits as of yesterday but that has since changed with the news that Tuli Letuligasenoa has flipped to the Washington Huskies. That leaves Caleb Tremblay (a JC transfer who is already enrolled) and Trevor Trout (still unsigned) as defensive linemen being added to the mix. And just like the offensive line, there doesn’t appear to be a clear replacement for Tuli at this point so the Trojans could only add two on the d-line as well.
Under most circumstances it would be a little concerning to face the possibility of coming up short on the lines but you also have to temper things this year with the fact that there are limited scholarships available to so you don’t want to be reaching when there are other holes to fill. Also, and perhaps most important, is a quick look at the recruiting lists for class of 2019 on both sides of the line are full of elite West Coast targets, and an opportunity for the Trojans to load up like they did in 2017.
Along the offensive line you have players like Jonah Tauanu’u (Narbonne, 6-5, 275, photo above), Sean Rhyan (San Juan Hills, 6-5, 300), Enokk Vimahi (Kahuku, HI, 6-5, 270), Sama Paama (Kaimuki, HI, 6-5, 325) and Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu (Navarro College, 6-7, 360).
On the defensive line there is Faauti Tuitele (St. Louis, HI, 6-4, 300), Matthew Pola-Mao (Mountain Pointe, AZ, 6-1, 300), Keyon Hudson-Ware (Mater Dei, 6-3, 295) and Siaki Ika (East, UT, 6-3, 360).
With a recruiting class that should be closer to a full 25-man contingent it will make sense for the Trojans to target next year for big classes along the lines.