When all was signed, faxed, sealed and delivered on Wednesday, USC had 13 new Trojans. These 13 athletes are amongst the finest in the country. They all have 4-star and 5-star rankings, and many are the best in the country at their position.
But who are these young men for whom Trojan fans will be cheering for the next three to five years?
Twenty-four hours have passed, the ink has dried on the LOIs and a tiny bit of perspective has been gained.
Was it a disappointing day? Not really.
The Trojans signed whom they thought they would. There weren’t any surprises or last-minute “gets” to energize the fans paying close attention to national signing day.
USC formerly had the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the country. Then the decommits happened.
From December right up until the night before national signing day, players decommitted left and right. Some of them signed with UCLA, Oregon and Notre Dame, which brought a particular sting to USC fans.
By the way, Lane Kiffin’s younger brother Chris signed the No. 3 signing class in the nation for Ole Miss.
Remember when Lane used to do that for USC? It’s almost ancient history now.
The late losses of players like Torrodney Prevot (Oregon), Jalen Ramsey (FSU) and Eddie Vanderdoes (Notre Dame) hurt USC significantly and caused the recruiting class ranking to fall out of the Top 10.
But all is not lost—the start of the spring semester brought six early enrollees to USC:
- 5-star DT Kenny Bigelow
- 5-star QB Max Browne
- 5-star S Su’a Cravens
- 5-star DB Leon McQuay III
- 4-star RB Justin Davis
- 4-star DB Chris Hawkins
Each of these players is expected to compete immediately for starting positions and make a big impact on this year’s Trojan team.
On Tuesday, USC closed out the recruits who had been commits and expected to become Trojans since fall. The big score of the day was uncommitted LB Quinton Powell from Florida.
Every single one of USC’s Class of 2013 is a top player at his position and nationally. USC signed more 5-star players than any team except Alabama.
The Trojans who signed their LOIs on national signing day are:
- 5-star RB Ty Isaac
- 4-star OL Nico Falah
- 4-star LB Michael Hutchings
- 4-star WR Steven Mitchell
- 4-star OL Khaliel Rodgers
- 4-star LB Quinton Powell
Because of the smaller recruiting class this year, USC will be able to bring in 20 players next year—the Trojans’ last year of scholarship reductions stemming from the NCAA sanctions.
The 13th member of the class of 2013 is
- 4-star WR Darreus Rodgers
Rogers is a member of the class of 2012 who signed a national letter of intent last February but was not cleared by USC or the NCAA in time for the season.
The important thing to take away from national signing day is that USC did land big-time players in the positions it needed.
Could the Trojans have used more defensive linemen? Sure. But the fact remains that USC didn’t have enough scholarships to grab all the players it actually needed. What USC got is an amazing, albeit small class of players in the positions of most need.
Of note, Su’a Cravens, Chris Hawkins and Leon McQuay III figure to play important parts on the Trojan defense right away with T.J. McDonald and Jawanza Starling graduating. Those three players are amongst the early enrollees getting a jump start on their Trojan careers.
Max Browne is expected to compete at QB right away. Matt Barkley will be playing on Sundays now, and Max Wittek and Cody Kessler haven’t made an overwhelming statement to claim the job yet.
Defensive linemen Kenny Bigelow, Michael Hutchings and Quinton Powell are figured to be starters right from the onset—especially with linebackers Devon Kennard and Scott Starr returning from injury. New defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast runs 4-3 and 3-4 schemes, which are ideal for these three new recruits.
Ty Isaac is a physical RB who, alongside fellow freshman Justin Davis, will compete for playing time with D.J. Morgan, Tre Madden and Buck Allen. Silas Redd is figured to be the featured back.
WR Steven Mitchell looks a lot like Marqise Lee in his style of play. He will give the Trojans some depth alongside Lee and Nelson Agholor.
Offensive linemen Khaliel Rodgers and Nico Falah round out the recruiting class of 2013. Rodgers could compete for the center position against Cyrus Hobbi and Marcus Martin. Falah gives the Trojans some depth and could see a redshirt season.
USC’s national signing day wasn’t a bonanza—but it won’t be until sanctions are over. All in all, it was a successful day for the Trojans, and fans should be thrilled with the players who will be suiting up in the Cardinal and Gold this fall.
Amy is the lead USC football writer for B/R. Follow her on Twitter at @GridironGoddess