With National Signing Day just hours away, the USC Trojans lost two more recruits from a recruiting class that was the best in the nation just a few months ago. Today’s decommits–four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher and five-star cornerback Jalen Ramsey–make eight prospects who’ve reconsidered their decision to attend USC since November.
Hatcher is likely to sign with Kentucky over USC while Ramsey is expected to sign with Florida State. Ramsey was a solid commit throughout the Trojans’ rocky season, but some have speculated that coaching moves impacted his decision.
USC recently fired secondary coach Marvin Sanders, to whom Ramsey was reportedly close, after hiring Clancy Pendergast as their new defensive coordinator. FSU was barely in the running for the CB until bringing Jeremy Pruitt on board to replace Mark Stoops as defensive coordinator.
In some regions of the country, 11th hour decommitments can lead to disproportionate outrage among a team’s fanbase, but USC fans, perhaps spoiled by the abundance of stars they still have in this year’s class, are taking it in stride.
The Trojans, who have fewer scholarships available due to NCAA sanctions, still have 12 commits in this year’s class. Even after losing eight verbals, it’s still ranked in the top ten because each recruit has four or five stars. In fact, after losing Ramsey, Hatcher’s announcement actually boosted the average ranking of the 2013 class because he was only–only!–four stars.
USC is still in play for four top recruits: defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and defensive end Kylie Fitts, former commits who are still considering the Trojans, as well as linebackers Quinton Powell and Matthew Thomas.
The Trojans are also going after two UCLA recruits, defensive backs Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman. Both were considered locks to be Bruins next year, but Willis recently began reconsidering his decision, with LSU and USC making last minute pushes for his letter of intent.
The Trojans also waited until today, hours before Signing Day, to extend an offer to defensive back Jermaine Kelly. Kelly, a Washington commit, is one of the top DBs in the class.
With so many last-minute developments, Wednesday could be an interesting one at Heritage Hall, but regardless of whose letters get faxed in, the Trojans already have a solid nucleus of young players. Seven members of the 2013 class (four of them five-star recruits) are already on campus. Defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow, quarterback Max Browne, runningback Justin Davis and defensive backs Su’a Cravens, Chris Hawkins and Leon McQuay III graduated high school early and enrolled in January while wide receiver Darreus Rogers signed with USC before the 2012 season but did not enroll in classes in the fall.
As current Trojans’ receiver Nelson Agholor tweeted this afternoon:
Best recruits you have are the ones already In your program
— Nelson Agholor (@NelsonAgh15) February 5, 2013
With a shortage of scholarships, Lane Kiffin‘s staff only went after the best of the best. The subpar 2012 season, and Kiffin’s shenanigans, may have hurt the class to an extent, but it’s still in good shape heading into National Signing Day.