In the early 2000s, Pete Carroll restored the USC Trojans to a place of national power. From 2002 to 2008, the Trojans won an unprecedented seven straight conference titles, dominating the Pac 12 by fielding a team so deep with talent, a third string running back at USC could be a star almost anywhere else in the country. Carroll was a master at recruiting the best talent in the country to Southern California to build those Trojan teams, but things haven’t been as easy for Lane Kiffin, who took over for Carroll just as the NCAA imposed sanctions on the Trojans for infractions during Carroll’s run and punished the team with a postseason ban and reduced scholarships. Kiffin, however, won’t be slowed down by any NCAA penalties, as he is poised to bring another top recruiting class to USC.
Right now, the Trojans have the second ranked recruiting class in the country for 2013 behind only the Michigan Wolverines. They have 14 oral commitments so far, all of which are ranked as four-star recruits by ESPN recruiting. 10 of their 14 commits are part of the ESPN 150, which ranks the top college recruits in the country. For comparison, the rest of the conference has seven combined ESPN 150 recruits (Oregon, Stanford, and Washington have two apiece and UCLA has one). Just this week, the Trojans three more highly sought recruits with a pair of offensive linemen in Khaliel Rodgers (Elkton, Md./ Eastern Christian Academy) and Nico Falah (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer).
While the Trojans still can’t compete nationally with quantity, they’re more than making up for it with quality. Officially, the Trojans can have 15 recruits in their 2013 class, but can sign 18 players and have three enroll in the spring to count against the 2012 class. Lane Kiffin and his staff have really zeroed in on the top recruits that will help their program and then gone out and won the recruiting battle for them. They’re making the scholarship reductions imposed by the NCAA look almost meaningless with the efficiency of their recruiting this offseason.
While the Trojans have done an amazing job so far, National Signing Day is still a long ways off. These oral commitments are still far off from helping this team on the field. Recruits could back out, re-open their recruitment, and jump ship to another program like we’ve seen recently with Ricky Seals-Jones in Texas and Reuben Foster bolting Alabama and signing with Auburn. Nothing is yet set in stone, but you have to be impressed with the job of Kiffin and his Trojan staff. They may have been under sanctions and a ban from the postseason, but they aren’t going to let that slow them down from building a winning team through top-notch recruiting.
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