Where USC's 2012 recruiting class stands (Defense)

January, 22, 2012
1/22/12
2:28
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USC can sign 15 players this year as part of its 2012 recruiting class. It’s likely the Trojans will ink all 15 of those players on signing day, although there is a possibility they could hold off on a player or two to save space for a last-second top prospect.

Position by position, we're delving into who will make up that 15-man list, including the eight prospects already committed, with assistance from ESPN Recruiting, Rivals and Scout. We did the offense Saturday; here's the defense.

Defensive end

USC has already has two new players guaranteed to be available at spring practice at end in juco product Morgan Breslin and former class of 2011 signee DeVante Wilson, so this is not a high-priority spot.

But the Trojans are still after three primo prospects who all happen to hail from Florida: Leonard Williams (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland), Tyriq McCord (Tampa, Fla./Jefferson) and Dante Fowler Jr. (St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood). McCord and Fowler are committed to Miami and Florida State, respectively, and Williams, who visited this weekend, is considered a likely SEC player.

Fowler and McCord are expected to visit USC next weekend, according to reports. This appears to be one of those situations -- especially this year, with limited availability -- where the Trojans are recruiting guys heavily but may not have room for all of them come signing day.

Defensive tackle

USC has one DT already committed -- Pio Vatuvei (Patterson, Calif./Patterson) -- and one player it really wants in Aziz Shittu (Atwater, Calif./Buhach).

Shittu is as close to an unknown as you can find in recruiting this late in the process. He's talked about USC repeatedly throughout his recruitment but has also brought up his other contenders -- Cal, Stanford and UCLA -- with as much regularity.

One thing we do know is the 275-pounder has been admitted to Stanford. That's often a hold-up with recruits with desires to go to school in Palo Alto, so that simplifies it a bit.

Linebacker

This is pretty much solidified. The Trojans have the two best in-state linebackers committed, and one of them already on campus in Scott Starr (Norco, Calif./Norco). Jabari Ruffin (Downey, Calif./Downey) is considered a solid commit.

They had been in on Noor Davis (Leesburg, Fla./Leesburg), and he was the school's first official visitor of the 2011 season, but he committed to Stanford early in the process and remains strong in that commitment.

It has been reported that USC also has an offer out to four-star outside 'backer Deaysean Rippy (McKees Rocks, Pa./Sto Rox).

Cornerback

Kevon Seymour (Pasadena, Calif./Muir) is the big recruit at this spot, and he committed to USC earlier this month after quite a bit of speculation. USC's also in on Tracy Howard (Miami, Fla./Miramar), who some recruiting services have rated as a five-star. He visited last week.

There is not a huge need at corner. The Trojans bring back six scholarship players and only one is a senior.

Safety

Gerald Bowman (Woodland Hills, Calif./Pierce J.C.) was slated to be an early enrollee but may not get in school in time. He has five days left to finish his requirements and enroll in classes, needing to enroll by Jan. 27 to participate in spring practice and not count against USC's 15-man scholarship limit.

Either way, it looks like he'll be coming. It just might not be immediately.

USC also hosted Ohio State commit De'Van Bogard (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) on an official visit last week.

Considering that five scholarship players return at safety next season and Florida transfer Josh Shaw also may be eligible because of a hardship waiver, Bowman and any other commits at this spot would be redshirt candidates.

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