Going along with our end-of-year lists that looked at the top performers from the 2011 season and the top questions facing USC in 2012, we're now profiling each of the five early enrollees expected to begin classes at USC this spring, continuing through Friday.
We began Monday with No. 1 was safety Gerald Bowman, a product of nearby Pierce College. No. 2 was defensive end Morgan Breslin of Diablo Valley College, No. 3 was Norco linebacker Scott Starr and No. 4 is Santa Monica lineman Chad Wheeler.
No. 5 is Corona defensive end DeVante Wilson.
Wilson was supposed to be a redshirt freshman by this time, supposed to have been with the Trojans all last season and learned from Ed Orgeron and Co. while bulking up for his first few months of college.
But he tore his ACL just before he was due to arrive on campus at USC last summer and ended up grey-shirting the 2011 season instead of enrolling at USC, essentially extending his clock another year. But because of the injury, it's likely he won't be able to participate in spring practice and also likely he'll redshirt the 2012 season so he can get back to full health.
When he is healthy, Wilson is a nice prospect as a speed rusher. He had 9.5 sacks as a senior at Corona High in 2010 and accumulated 82 tackles the year before while playing with current Trojan Demetrius Wright. But at just 230 pounds, he needs to gain quite a bit of weight.
In that sense, he's similar to fourth-year junior Kevin Greene, who came in to USC in 2009 so light that he started out at linebacker. Now he's up to 260 pounds and a key reserve defensive end behind starters Devon Kennard and Wes Horton.
Greene was more productive than Wilson in high school, but the new signee is a high-reward type who could grow into an impact player while a Trojan. And, by enrolling in January and catching up with some of what he missed last fall, Wilson is putting himself in good shape to compete for playing time.
It's worth noting that the only other big program to offer him a scholarship out of high school was Nebraska -- not that his lack of offers necessarily means anything in regards to his future productivity.
But, if he does develop into an impact player, he would certainly qualify as a diamond in the rough of sorts for Orgeron and James Cregg, the USC assistant who recruited him.
That concludes our early enrollee series. With the five players profiled here and Florida transfer Josh Shaw, USC hopes to have six new scholarship players available for spring practice, which will be a boon for depth purposes considering the transfers that have already occurred and those that still could.