Signing day preview
January, 30, 2012
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com
With the Monday commitment of four-star offensive tackle Zach Banner (Lakewood, Wa./Lakes), USC now has nine Class of 2012 prospects committed to sign with the school out of 14 available spots.
NCAA sanctions limited the Trojans to 15 signees. They can actually only take 14 because safety Gerald Bowman (Philadelphia, Pa./Pierce College) signed as an early enrollee but didn't finish up his junior-college requirements in time to actually enroll early. So, with barely 36 hours remaining until the faxes will begin rolling in to Heritage Hall on Wednesday morning, let's take a look at which players could potentially fill those five spots.
The following 10 prospects are the candidates. They are listed in a rough order of the likelihood they will sign with the Trojans, from most likely to least. Then we'll go over some of the other things that could still affect the final formulation of the recruiting class, like current commits defecting to other schools and last-second, under-the-radar signees.
WR/RB Nelson Agholor (Tampa, Fla./Berkeley Prep)
Although not yet on campus, Agholor has quickly become Robert Woods' understudy at the receiver position, through social media and his official visit to the Trojans earlier this month.
He seems like a perfect fit as the next top-recruit receiver at USC after Woods and Lee. And he has gotten rave reviews on his character and attitude from all over the country. The only other school he could choose at this point is Florida, but he seems very likely to pick USC.
DE Leonard Williams (Daytona Beach, Fl./Mainland)
Williams is also down to just USC and Florida, according to a recent interview with Rivals.com. An interesting aspect of his recruitment is that he is originally from Los Angeles, which would ease the cross-country transition.
One question: Is a third (or fourth) defensive end really the Trojans' biggest need in this limited class? One could make a convincing argument that a running back would be a better use of the scholarship offer. But Williams is also big enough to make a potential transition to defensive tackle possible, and depth is needed there.
OT Andrus Peat (Tempe, Ariz./Corona Del Sol)
Peat is arguably the second most-important recruit remaining for USC, and he has the Trojans in his final three alongside Nebraska and Stanford. Now that he's gotten in at Stanford and with his brother heading into his second season at Nebraska, it's really an unknown how interested he is in USC.
But he has a ton of potential as a tall, room-to-grow player who could easily bookend USC's line with Banner for two or three seasons.
OT Kyle Murphy (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente)
Let's put it this way: If the Trojans don't get either Peat, Murphy or Kyle Dodson (more later) to go along with Banner, something went wrong in the final week of the 2012 recruiting season.
He has USC and Stanford as his final two schools, and many recruiting analysts have speculated that Peat and Murphy will pick different schools, which would obviously help USC's cause. But there's also the worst-case scenario of Murphy picking Stanford and Peat joining his brother as a Cornhusker.
An item of note on the 6-7 Murphy: His high school teammate and good friend, Christian Tober, announced over the weekend he'd be coming to USC as a preferred walk-on in the fall.
QB Cyler Miles (Denver, Colo./Mullen)
Miles was a super-late add to the target list for USC. The Trojans were never thought to be interested in the Washington commit until his performance in the U.S. Army All-American Game earlier this month.
Where would he fit in the current Trojans' stable of signal-callers? Well, he wouldn't, really. There's no room for him with Max Wittek, Cody Kessler and Jesse Scroggins all competing to replace Barkley in a year. If he does end up signing with USC, it would surely signal that one of those quarterbacks are on their way out of USC.
The most likely candidate: Scroggins, the oldest of the bunch.
OT Kyle Dodson (Cleveland, Ohio/Cleveland Heights)
He's the wildcard in the offensive tackle bunch, a Wisconsin commit from Ohio State country who visited USC earlier this month. He has to be considered unlikely to end up with the Trojans, but he hasn't officially ruled them out yet.
DT Aziz Shittu (Atwater, Calif./Buhach)
Who knows? Shittu seems to enjoy misleading fans on Twitter by tweeting his interest in several schools, but he's apparently narrowed his list down to just three now: Stanford, USC and UCLA.
Like Peat and Murphy, he's also been admitted to Stanford. It's also not inconceivable that Shittu could start at USC as a freshman if he signs with the Trojans, which adds some intrigue to his decision.
C Hiva Lutui (Euless, Tx./Trinity)
Does the Texas product have a scholarship offer to USC?
Recruiting sites differ on that subject. But Lutui has visited USC and is known to be interested. He's also now a Utah commit after first committing to crosstown UCLA.
The Trojans have other players who can play center on the roster behind starter Khaled Holmes, but they don't have any true centers. Lutui could change that.
DE Tyriq McCord (Tampa, Fla./Jefferson)
McCord, a smaller, speedy end from the Tampa area was actively tweeting to potential Miami recruits while he was on his USC official visit last weekend.
It's clearly unlikely he'll choose to sign with the Trojans. But any recruit who takes an official visit to a school the last possible weekend of the recruiting season has to be considered a potential signee.
WR Bryce Treggs (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco)
Treggs is the only player on this list who is surely without a scholarship offer, according to reports. But he officially visited USC last week, so there's always a possibility. He's been a Cal commit for quite some time.
Then there are Darreus Rogers (Carson, Calif./Carson) and Pio Vatuvei (Patterson, Calif./Patterson), two prospects who have long been committed to USC but are reportedly considering other schools. Rogers has flirted with Arizona State of late, visiting Tempe two weekends ago and giving glowing reviews of the trip on his Twitter account upon returning. Vatuvei could end up at Cal.
But both players are still likely to end up at USC, along with the eight other players who will be part of the Class of 2012: Banner, Bowman, running back/fullback Jahleel Pinner, tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, offensive linemen Jordan Simmons and Max Tuerk, linebacker Jabari Ruffin, cornerback Kevon Seymour and the five January enrollees: offensive tackle Chad Wheeler, defensive ends Morgan Breslin and DeVante Wilson, linebacker Scott Starr and defensive back Josh Shaw.
On the topic of out-of-nowhere signees, it's necessary to note that USC doesn't have a clear commit at its single biggest position of need, running back. Pinner and Agholor could potentially play that position, but neither of them are true single-back types. That leads to speculation, of course, that there's some running back out there that the Trojans have silently been recruiting.