USC: Pio Vatuvei

10:30 a.m. signing day update

February, 1, 2012
2/01/12
10:34
AM PT
As of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, 11 players have officially signed their letters of intent to attend USC.

The 11, listed in alphabetical order, are receiver Nelson Agholor (Tampa, Fla./Berkeley Prep), offensive tackle Zach Banner (Lakewood, Wa./Lakes), safety Gerald Bowman (Philadelphia, Pa./Pierce College), tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick (Rocklin, Calif./Whitney)running back/fullback Jahleel Pinner (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo), defensive end Jabari Ruffin (Downey, Calif./Downey), cornerback Kevon Seymour (Pasadena, Calif./Muir), cornerback Devian Shelton (Inglewood, Calif./Inglewood), offensive guard Jordan Simmons (Encino, Calif./Crespi), offensive tackle Max Tuerk (Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita) and defensive lineman Leonard Williams (Daytona Beach, Fl./Mainland).

That is according to their respective announcements and Twitter accounts. USC has made only seven of the signings -- Banner, Cope-Fitzpatrick, Pinner, Ruffin, Seymour, Simmons and Tuerk -- official as of 10:30 a.m.

Cope-Fitzpatrick, Pinner, Ruffin, Seymour, Simmons and Tuerk had been longtime USC commits. Williams and Agholor were known to be interested in the Trojans but had never publicly committed and ended up both picking USC over Florida. Banner announced on Monday he'd be attending USC. Shelton was offered a scholarship only on Tuesday; Bowman was supposed to enroll in school in January but didn't qualify in time and pushed it back to the summer.

Two players who USC had been seriously recruiting ended up not picking USC: offensive tackle Kyle Dodson (Cleveland, Oh./Cleveland Heights) and defensive lineman Pio Vatuvei (Patterson, Calif./Patterson).

Receiver Darreus Rogers (Carson, Calif./Carson) is still committed to USC but is known to be seriously considering Arizona State. He'll make his official announcement at 3 p.m. PT Wednesday.

Other expected announcements that could affect USC are those of offensive tackle Andrus Peat (Tempe, Ariz./Corona Del Sol), quarterback Cyler Miles (Denver, Colo./Mullen), offensive tackle Kyle Murphy (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente), defensive tackle Aziz Shittu (Atwater, Calif./Buhach).

Peat will announce just after 10:30 a.m. PT. Miles has said he will announce at 1 p.m. Murphy will announce at 1:30 p.m. and Shittu is scheduled for a 2 p.m. announcement at his high school.

Signing day preview

January, 30, 2012
1/30/12
10:56
PM PT


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.

(Read full post)

Where USC's 2012 recruiting class stands (Defense)

January, 22, 2012
1/22/12
2:28
PM PT
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.

Early enrollee profile No. 2: Morgan Breslin

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
6:37
PM PT
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, beginning Monday and continuing through Friday.

No. 1 was safety Gerald Bowman, a product of nearby Pierce College. No. 2 is defensive end Morgan Breslin of Diablo Valley College.

Breslin is a pass-rusher by nature who needs to bulk up to effectively play on the defensive line at the major-college level. But he has a good amount of potential as a pure pass rusher and could be a nice player to have in the rotation over the next few years.

A two-year starter at Diablo Valley up north, Breslin is not yet on campus at USC but is believed to be arriving sometime this week. He is precisely the type of player who can benefit most from a semester in the strength and conditioning program before the fall, and the Trojans clearly see some potential him to be available as a reserve in 2012. Nick Perry's gone to the NFL, and Armond Armstead is unlikely to return to USC, so there are depth issues on the outside of the defensive line.

But once seniors-to-be Devon Kennard and Wes Horton finish their USC careers, it'll be players like Breslin, Greg Townsend Jr. and Kevin Greene competing to replace them.

The 6-3, 245-pound Breslin led all of California's junior colleges in sacks each of the past two years, recording a combined 28 sacks. He played high school football in Walnut Creek -- the home of the Pac-12 offices, incidentally -- and also played rugby.

He's another example of a player who was committed to another school until USC saw him and started heavily recruiting him. Breslin was all set to enroll at UCLA this spring until Trojans recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron saw him on film and then gave him the hard sell.

Breslin is one of two defensive ends USC is currently bringing in, with Pio Vatuvei the other. Chad Wheeler, another early enrollee we're profiling later this week, could also play end in college but was recruited as an offensive tackle by most schools.

Check back Wednesday for our profile of Scott Starr.

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