It’s been a long, eventful offseason on the recruiting trail for the Trojans coaches. And with fall camp set to start up this weekend, a time when they’ll switch their focus, it’s worth taking a quick look at where things stand for USC and the Class of 2016.
After reeling in their first full signing class since 2011 this past February, Steve Sarkisian & Co. are looking to bolster their roster with another deep group, and they appear to be well on their way to doing just that.
On paper, the Trojans began the cycle with 25 available scholarships to give, but that number goes down to 21 when you factor in two expected blueshirt freshmen who will count toward the Class of 2016 in wide receiver Deontay Burnett and Clayton Johnston, as well as Oklahoma tight end-transfer Taylor McNamara, and Florida tight end-transfer Daniel Imatorbhebhe. Add in the 16 high school prospects who have given a verbal commitment to the Trojans, and as of right now, USC has only five remaining scholarships to give.
Things can, and usually do change before signing day, however, with prospects holding the potential to flip to another school at any point. That, coupled with the fact that USC is still on the radar of a number of top-flight prospects, means that there could still be quite a bit of movement and drama in the months leading up to signing day.
With that said, here is a position-by-position look at where things currently stand for the Trojans with the Class of 2016.
Players committed (1): Matt Fink (Glendora, Calif./Glendora)
Notable remaining targets: None
Fink committed to USC in June, a little over a month after the ESPN 300 signal-caller received his offer from the Trojans. A dual-threat quarterback with solid 6-foot-3 size, he is thought to have a high ceiling, and he performed well at the Rising Stars Camp earlier this summer. At this point, there doesn’t appear to be any other quarterbacks under consideration, with the staff having moved on to the Class of 2017, where Tua Tagovailoa and Tate Martell stand out as two of the primary targets.
Players committed (1): Melquise Stovall (Lancaster, Calif./Paraclete)
Notable remaining targets: None
Similar to the situation at quarterback, it looks like there is a good chance that USC will only take one running back from the Class of 2016 in Stovall, who is versatile enough that he could also wind up as a slot receiver or at cornerback. But Stovall does plan to take some official visits, most notably to Notre Dame, so the Trojans staff still can’t afford to ease up in their pursuit of him. Elijah Holyfield and Amir Rasul were two recent USC running back targets who now appear to be off the table.
Players committed (4): Josh Imatorbhebhe (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett), Velus Jones (Saraland, Ga./Saraland), Michael Pittman (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), Trevon Sidney (La Puente, Calif./Bishop Amat)
Notable remaining targets: Nate Craig-Myers (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic), Donnie Corley (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King), N’Keal Harry (Chandler, Ariz./Chandler), Javon McKinley (Corona, Calif./Centennial), Steffon McKnight (San Diego, Calif./Mira Mesa), Freddie Swain (Citra, Fla./North Marion), Tyler Vaughns (La Puente, Calif./Bishop Amat)
The Trojans already have an outstanding collection of four verbal commitments at wide receiver, but with Pittman and Sidney standing out as strong all-around athletes who could also line up elsewhere, and the position so deep in this year’s class, they will still take at least one more. Vaughns could be the next one to jump on board. He is scheduled to announce his decision on Aug. 19, and USC is thought to be the favorite. Jones, who committed to USC in April, participated in Georgia’s Dawg Night earlier this summer, and there’s always the potential that his recruitment could take a turn if the Bulldogs or a program like Alabama extends an offer.
Players committed (1): Cary Angeline (Exton, Pa./Downingtown East)
Notable remaining targets: Devin Asiasi (Concord, Calif./De La Salle), Nick Eubanks (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), Thaddeus Moss (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek), Isaac Nauta (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy), Naseir Upshur (Philadelphia, Pa./Imhotep Institute Charter)
Angeline, a fantastic national prospect with well over 30 offers, gave the USC staff the big name at tight end that they wanted in this class, but that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily done at the position. The Trojans remain very involved with Asiasi, in particular. He has maintained strong interest in USC for quite a while, but he is also still considering Alabama, California, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Oregon, UCLA and Washington. The highly touted Nauta, who recently decommitted from Florida State, wants to take an official visit to USC, but his recruitment is still wide open to say the least.
Notable remaining targets: Greg Little (Allen, Texas/Allen)
The Trojans are likely done along the offensive line with Martin and Smith in the fold. Both commits are solid-looking long-term prospects, with Martin having performed well at The Opening this past July. Little, the No. 1 rated offensive tackle in the ESPN 300 who recently decommitted from Texas A&M, has expressed some interest in USC, but has to be considered an extreme long shot.
Notable remaining targets: Derrick Brown (Sugar Hill, Ga./Lanier), Chris Daniels (Euless, Texas/Trinity), Jordan Elliott (Houston, Texas/Westside), Rashan Gary (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic), Antwuan Jackson Jr. (Ellendwood, Ga./Cedar Grove), Dexter Lawrence (Wake Forest, N.C./Wake Forest), Rashard Lawrence (Monroe, La./Neville), Justin Madubuike (McKinney, Texas/McKinney North), Connor Murphy (Phoenix, Ariz./Brophy Prep), Maxs Tupai (Murray, Utah/Murray)
With five senior scholarship defensive linemen set to depart following this season, USC needs to add bodies here, and they’ve done a solid job so far, gaining the commitments of three prospects. Saleapaga and Jimmons are both under-the-radar types who starred at USC’s Lineman Camp, while Camp, who was once committed to Miami (Fla.), is more of an established name, but he does still plan to take all five official visits. Beyond those three, the Trojans likely want to add at least one more defensive lineman, but most of those left on the board are the elite, national types, so it won’t be easy. The Trojans might have the best shot at Elliott, a Houston commit.
Notable remaining targets: Cameron Brown (Potomac, Md./Bullis), Ben Davis (Gordo, Ala./Gordo), Brendan Ferns (Saint Clairsville, Ohio/Saint Clairsville), Caleb Kelly (Fresno, Calif./Clovis West), Jeffrey McCulloch (Aldine, Texas/ Davis),
There is a good chance that USC sticks with the three linebackers currently committed, but Juarez’s status is still very much up in the air. He is known to have heavy interest in UCLA as well as Nebraska, Michigan and Notre Dame, among others. At 248 pounds, Hayes appears destined to play rush end at USC, where he lined up at USC’s Rising Stars Camp. Jimmons could also wind up at that spot, but most project him to the interior, where he’s listed here.
Players committed (0)
Notable remaining targets: Isaiah Gilchrist (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), Jackie Jones (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), Nigel Knott (Madison, Miss./Germantown), Byron Murphy (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro), Jordan Parker (Pittsburg, Calif./Pittsburg).
The Trojans would probably ideally like to bring in two cornerbacks, with some very talented names standing out on their short list, including the highly acclaimed Jones, who could wait all the way until signing day to announce his decision. Knott was stellar at USC’s Rising Stars Camp, but the Trojans staff faces a stiff challenge in trying to pull him out of SEC country. Parker, meanwhile, just decommitted from UCLA and now has interest in the Trojans, Oklahoma and Oregon among others -- although the Ducks have yet to offer.
Players committed (1): C.J. Pollard (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
Pollard, who committed to USC at The Opening, is a rangy safety with excellent cover skills. With him firmly on board, USC could add one more safety, and they’re in the best shape with Jackson. Anderson is another safety to watch. He just released a new top 5 that included the Trojans, and he has tentative plans to visit USC the weekend of the Stanford game.