USC fans received a little bit of shocking news over the weekend when 4-star lineman Casey Tucker (Hamilton High, Chandler, Ariz.) officially opened up his recruitment.
The former Trojan commit did not specify what led up to his decommitment, but Tucker's high school football coach said that USC was aware of Tucker's status. More from 247 Sports:
Casey is no longer committed to USC and USC has known about Casey's status, because Tommie Robinson (USC RBs coach) has a son that goes to our school, said Hamilton head coach Steve Belles. USC knows they need to recruit Casey as if he's not committed.
Belles indicated that Tucker won't be taking any unofficial visits over the spring and summer, but will take all his official visits this fall.
What is strange about this whole recruitment is that in early January Tucker said that he felt "strongly about USC", but that he was "still open.” More from AZ Central's January report:
I’m not closed on any deal. I’m making sure I can find the best place I can possibly go to.
The signs were there that this was not a strong commitment, but apparently the warning signs were not heeded.
While Tucker has decommitted from USC, the Trojans still do appear to be near the top of his list of schools of interest, which includes Arizona State, Oregon and Stanford.
All of this points to speculation on whether or not Tucker soured on USC for some reason. Or it could mean that he felt he wasn't get enough attention from the coaches—that is not an uncommon occurrence. But what is the most likely scenario is that Tucker may feel his chances of starting as a true freshman have diminished.
USC currently has two offensive linemen commits for the class of 2014: Toa Lobendahn and Jordan Poland. Head coach Lane Kiffin also indicated at a practice prior to the Trojans' spring game that USC would consider signing some players over the summer—it is believed that the Trojans have five scholarships available.
If Kiffin signed a couple of JUCOs to the line, that would probably take care of USC's needs for the next two years. Moreover, 2014 is the last class which falls under the NCAA-sanctioned 15/75 scholarship restriction.
In most cases, schools don't want to lose a prospect that has committed to its program, but losing a commit this early in the 2014 recruiting season is no reason to panic—Tucker may commit to USC or he may commit to another school, but USC has 10 months to recruit his possible replacement.
In the meantime, USC's offensive line is in very good shape—albeit thin at depth—and with true freshmen left tackle Nico Falah and left guard Khaliel Rodgers enrolling in the fall, USC should be fine up front, provided everyone stays healthy.