With less than a week to go before letters of intent are faxed to happy college football recruiting departments, USC finds itself with most of its scholarships either claimed or targeted to go to a coveted prospect.
USC has 19 scholarships available in 2014, and with five early entrants already on campus, that leaves the Trojans with 14 available scholarships and 10 solid verbals already in the fold.
As I possess a keen mind for math, I have ascertained that USC will have—barring any unforeseen issues—a total of four scholarships left over when it comes time to hand out those free rides Feb. 5, the day when most recruits will sign their names on the dotted line for their new schools.
Now, anyone who follows USC recruiting will tell you, the Trojans have grand ideas that Scout.com 5-star players, cornerback Adoree' Jackson, offensive lineman Damien Mama and safety John "JuJu" Smith will be taking three of those precious "schollies."
Assuming this happens—and won't Trojans fans jump for joy if it does—that still leaves one lonely scholarship to be claimed by a prospective man of Troy.
Who will that be? Well, there is a long list of players the Trojans would love to sign, but realistically, there are only a few that seem likely to claim that last spot.
One player the Trojans would love to sign is Scout.com 4-star defensive tackle Joshua Frazier.
However, any hope for USC to woo Frazier away from his verbal commitment from Alabama were dashed when Frazier canceled his trip to Los Angeles and reaffirmed his pledge to the Crimson Tide, via Scout.com (subscription required).
Another player USC has been pursuing and one who has visited, is Scout.com 4-star linebacker Fred Warner.
Warner grew up rooting for the Trojans, and when asked about whether USC has a chance of signing him, Warner told Scout.com's Greg Biggins (subscription required), "On paper they do, I grew up a USC fan and they have great tradition, it’s close to home and I really like the coaching staff a lot."
Now, it is also being reported, via Scout.com (subscription required), that Warner made a secret visit to USC and was hosted by new Trojan Jalen Greene and sophomore Ty Isaac.
That can only be good news for those who follow the men of Troy, although at this point, Warner signing with the Trojans still seems somewhat remote.
Which brings us to a player that USC does have an interest in and who also appears to be interested in the Trojans.
Lamont Simmons is a Scout.com 3-star cornerback whose 6'2", 182-pound frame makes him a very intriguing prospect at a position of need.
Simmons is somewhat raw but has a ton of upside and the Trojans, led by mega-recruiter Tee Martin, have made him a priority having already had an in-home visit with the young prospect from Jacksonville, Fla, via Scout.com (subscription required).
When all is said and done, look for Simmons to continue the "Florida-to-USC pipeline" when it comes to filling that last scholarship spot in 2014.
But what if everything fails and USC is left at the alter when it comes to signing any of the aforementioned players? What is the fallback plan?
In the case that USC cannot attract another player higher on their list, there is always a possibility that Scout.com 3-star defensive end Jabril Frazier might don the Cardinal and Gold.
Frazier is an extremely athletic player who has a great frame to pack on more weight and be a force at the next level.
In an article by Biggins (subscription required), Frazier talked about his hope that the Trojans will eventually offer him a scholarship, “I really hope a spot opens up for me, I liked it at USC a lot."
Even if there isn't a scholarship available, Frazier likes USC enough to even consider other options. Said Frazier, “If they’re out of scholarships since they only have four or five spots left, I’ll be offered a grey shirt and will enroll in the spring next year."
As Feb. 5 approaches, head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff will be turning over every rock to see if it hides a recruiting gem for the Trojans in the class of 2014.
Of course, there is still a ton of drama that will play out with the "big three" recruits Mama, Jackson and Smith, and those players will dominate the thoughts of those who follow recruiting while rooting for USC.
If any of those guys go elsewhere, it will, of course, leave another spot open, and the recruiting brain trust will have to scramble anew to fill it with a player that fits Sark's system.
You know that the powers that be at USC have entertained this horrific possibility and that they do have a game plan to accommodate that scenario.
And you know just as well that they hope they don't have to use it.
Follow me on Twitter: @RickMcMahan
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