Three months ago, it would have been ludicrous to say that USC's NCAA sanctions would help the school assemble its 2013 recruiting class.
Now, it would seem to be accurate.
In an unexpected turn of events capped off by Jalen Ramsey's Monday commitment, the Trojans have gathered 14 star-studded commitments in an unprecedented three-month binge to reach the NCAA-mandated limit of 15 for the class of 2013 more than six months before Signing Day. (Because USC took only 12 players last Signing Day, the Trojans still have three more openings to fill, as long as at least three players from the class enroll early next winter.)
At this time last year, USC had only six commitments for the class of 2012. What suddenly gives?
It actually makes sense: In the past, top prospects like Nelson Agholor and Leonard Williams knew they could wait as long as they wanted to commit and still have a spot at USC if they decided to be a Trojan. Both of those guys, arguably USC's top two 2012 recruits, didn't commit at all until they signed with USC on Feb. 1, Signing Day.
That simply can't happen this year, because the Trojans won't have any available spots.
Obviously there's a little bit of wiggle room -- if, say, Robert Nkemdiche decides in December or January he wants to go to USC over Clemson, there's probably going to be a spot cleared up for him in a day or two. But, for the most part, any non-No. 1 prospect has to commit now if he wants to secure his spot with the Trojans.
Think of it like this: A successful rock band tours across America for a few months every year, with shows scheduled in every major college town each fall. USC, Texas, LSU and Alabama (and plenty of others) all have 25,000-seat stadiums that they sell out for $50 a pop a few months before the respective shows. But imagine this year, USC's stadium is under renovation and it only has a 15,000-seat venue available. Assuming the acoustics are up to par and the band is still going to play the same quality show at the smaller venue, it's only natural the ticket will be more expensive.
That's essentially what's happened to USC's 2013 recruiting class: Its tickets are more expensive, and they're almost sold out.
In other words, the NCAA sanctions -- combined with USC's 2011 success -- have made a Lane Kiffin scholarship offer more valuable.
And the buzz surrounding all the recent commits is causing a domino effect, as well. The father of defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes said as much to multiple media outlets when his son verbally committed to the Trojans last week.
After offensive lineman Khaliel Rodgers committed to USC on Wednesday morning and Nico Falah followed him in the afternoon, Vanderdoes decided around 11 p.m. PT to phone the USC coaches and tell them he was coming too.
A spot on USC's roster is a hot ticket indeed.