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Thursday, February 13, 2014
2015 USC recruiting preview: Defense

By Blair Angulo

With the NCAA mandated scholarship limitations in the rear-view mirror, new USC head coach Steve Sarkisian will have 25 spots to fill next February. The Trojans said goodbye to the sanctions with a successful signing day, landing defensive help with cornerbacks Adoree' Jackson and Lamont Simmons, among others.

Here’s a quick preview of what USC’s defensive board could look like heading into spring:

Defensive line: 4

Keisean Lucier-South
In-state ESPN Junior 300 defensive end Keisean Lucier-South is high on USC's board right now.
ESPN JC 50 defensive tackle Claudeson Pelon was the only hand-in-the-dirt lineman USC signed in 2014, with hybrid ends Malik Dorton and Don Hill projected more as stand-up rushers. Ed Orgeron brought in only Kenny Bigelow in 2013, so the interior figures to be a major focus in the 2015 class. The Trojans have already identified a handful of in-state targets that recently visited campus for the program’s Elite Junior Day.

Offers: Jacob Daniel (Fresno, Calif./Clovis North), Rasheem Green (Gardena, Calif./Serra), Kahlil McKenzie (Concord, Calif./De La Salle), Byron Cowart (Seffner, Fla./Armwood), Keisean Lucier-South (Orange, Calif./Lutheran), Canton Kaumatule (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou), Mekhi Brown (Columbus, Ga./Carver), Jashon Cornell (Saint Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham), CeCe Jefferson (Glen Saint Mary, Fla./Baker County), Daylon Mack (Gladewater, Texas/Gladewater), Tim Settle (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson), T.D. Moton (Shreveport, La./Woodlawn), Darrion Daniels (Dallas, Texas/Bishop Dunne)

Linebacker: 3

Three-star prospects Uchenna Nwosu and Olajuwon Tucker were the linebackers USC signed last week -- this after the Trojans brought in Michael Hutchings and Quinton Powell in 2013. With the increase in scholarship numbers, assistant coach Peter Sirmon should have the freedom former position coaches Mike Ekeler and Scottie Hazelton never had.

Offers: Cameron Smith (Granite Bay, Calif./Granite Bay), John Houston Jr. (Gardena, Calif./Serra), Malik Jefferson (Mesquite, Texas/Poteet), Justin Hilliard (Cincinnati, Ohio/Saint Xavier), Jeffery Holland (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy)

Cornerback: 3

With the announcement that Jackson, a five-star prospect, will head into USC as a cornerback first and an offensive weapon second, the urgency at the position diminished a bit. The Trojans also signed Jonathan Lockett, John Plattenburg and Simmons, and received an early verbal commitment from Taeon Mason (Pasadena, Calif./Muir), but there are some intriguing targets.

Offers: Dechaun Holiday (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills), DuWayne Johnson (Washington, D.C./Howard D. Woodson), Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), Stanley Norman (Gardena, Calif./Serra)

Safety: 2

Juju Smith will arrive at USC as an offensive player, but he could make the switch to safety down the road. There wasn’t a pressing need at this position in the previous class, but 2015 could be a different story.

Offers: Marvell Tell (Encino, Calif./Crespi)