USC: Seantrel Henderson

Every day until Friday, we’ll tackle one key question facing the USC football team in 2011 and attempt to answer it logically. Feel free to leave your potential answer in the comments section each day.

Tuesday's question involved the future of Monte Kiffin and the Trojan defense. Today, we present the third of our five questions: How will sanctions affect the 2011 recruiting class? With the average prospects' star rating lower than usual so far for USC, is that indicative of anything?

Nine players have signed with USC to enroll in January as a way to circumvent the NCAA's 15-man restriction on the 2011 recruiting class.

[+] EnlargeCody Kessler
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comCody Kessler is one of the highly-touted quarterback coming to the USC campus.
Only two of the nine, though, are highly-touted players: quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek. Only five -- maybe six -- are players you'd expect USC to recruit in a typical season over the last 10 years.

The rest seem to be reaches of varying extents. USC was the only Pac-10 school to offer a scholarship to linebacker Dallas Kelley and offensive linemen David Garness and Jeremy Galten. Galten isn't rated by some recruiting services; Kelley and Garness appear to be consensus two-star prospects.

USC didn't sign a single two-star player last year. Cornerback Anthony Brown was the only consensus three-star to sign with the school.

What does this all mean?

To put it simply, Lane Kiffin has recognized, we can gather, the need for USC to aim a little lower on the totem pole than it has in past years because of its 17-9 record in 2009 and 2010. That's good news for the Trojans in that it means that the depth issues that plagued the team in 2010 will be lessened some in 2011, but it's also bad news in that the better-athlete advantage USC has long held over Pac-10 opponents is on its way to being a thing of the past.

Critics often said that the only thing former USC coach Pete Carroll excelled at was recruiting, and that his success on the field only came as a direct result of that. In that same vein, if Kiffin goes on to have any sort of significant long-term success at USC, we'll know that it came because of his coaching, not his recruiting.

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Thursday practice report: Breakdown

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
1:37
PM PT
Notes, quotes and video from Thursday's practice, the last of the trio of early-morning sessions this week:
  • The big news out of practice was an intriguing comment from USC coach Lane Kiffin about the spread offense. Specifically, he said that because of his squad's positional limitations for the future -- no scholarship fullbacks after senior Stanley Havili graduates, plenty of tailbacks and receivers -- the Trojans could feasibly run the spread next season. Whether he was being serious or attempting to fool the spread-heavy Oregon Ducks in advance of next week's game is anyone's guess, but Mark Saxon will have more on this later.
  • The injury report was probably the longest of the year: offensive linemen Tyron Smith (ankle), Butch Lewis and Kristofer O'Dowd (shoulder), defensive end Wes Horton (back), linebacker Malcolm Smith (knee) and running backs Allen Bradford (toe), Dillon Baxter (toe) and C.J. Gable (knee) all sat out of practice. Offensive guards Khaled Holmes and John Martinez (foot), tight end Jordan Cameron (knee), defensive end Nick Perry (ankle) and defensive end James Boyd were limited. We'll have more on O'Dowd later, but the segment of the team that spent the duration of practice doing personal workouts -- think an hour-long session of various forms of sit-ups and push-ups -- was larger than ever before.
  • A lot of the focus this week is on recruiting, with assistant coaches filing in and out of Heritage Hall and traveling around the country and sometimes missing practices. Kiffin has stayed in L.A. this week but said today he plans to depart this afternoon. Digging deeper into recruiting, Kiffin said the team's positional focus for the 2011 class would be on the offensive and defensive lines -- noting that the Trojans would hardly even have enough players to run a full scrimmage after the seniors and (maybe) draft-eligible juniors on each side of the line move on. USC ended up with just two linemen in the 2010 recruiting class after the Seantrel Henderson debacle: center Giovanni DiPoalo and defensive tackle George Uko. Both players are redshirting this season.

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Examining the transfers

July, 12, 2010
7/12/10
4:10
PM PT
Just over four weeks have passed since the NCAA announced sanctions on the USC football program that included a two-year postseason ban and a loss of five scholarships a year. Shortly after they were handed down on June 10, perhaps the biggest sanction-related question turned to transfers.

Essentially, would USC experience a mass exodus of players taking advantage of the NCAA-instituted free-transfer policy for juniors and seniors, or would the Trojans stay Trojans and stick together as a team?

So far it's been somewhere in between, with five players choosing to transfer. Of course, none of the five — linebackers Jordan Campbell and Jarvis Jones, defensive end Malik Jackson, safety Byron Moore and now fullback D.J. Shoemate — were starters. But each of them, and Jackson and Shoemate especially, were key depth pieces for USC's present and future.

But how important were they?

Let's break them all down, player by player and in chronological order.

--

1. Campbell -- The first player to transfer, Campbell essentially used the sanctions as an opportunity to escape a situation where he had found himself in coach Lane Kiffin's doghouse. He even said so: "I decided to transfer because it was a blessing in disguise," he said last month. "The opportunity to go to any other school that I wanted to without sitting out a year -- that was awesome."

A reserve linebacker, Campbell was a solid special-teamer and provided depth on the defense, but was never a likely long-term starter.

2. Jones -- Another linebacker, Jones was also another special case. He was largely thought of by the USC coaching staff as a potential starter -- former linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. compared him directly to Brian Cushing -- but injuries got in the way when Jones sprained his neck on Halloween Night at Oregon last season. He missed the rest of the year and was never cleared by team doctors, so he chose to transfer to Georgia, where he will reportedly be cleared to play.

Jones must sit out the 2010-2011 season as the NCAA's free-transfer policy does not apply to him.

3. Jackson -- The reserve defensive end was USC's first true loss, as he was the first player likely to earn significant playing time in 2010 that decided to transfer. Jackson had been an obvious part of the Trojans' defense during his two seasons at USC but failed to break through at any point and earn a starting job at one of the end spots.

Instead, he was bound to spend the 2010 season spelling fellow junior Armond Armstead.

4. Moore -- A redshirt freshman, Moore last week decided to transfer to Los Angeles Harbor College, a junior college. He had the talent to stick at USC but sometimes appeared to lack a sense of confidence in practice, and he had been largely outshined by other defensive backs in his recruiting class. In fact, it's possible that three of USC's four starters in the secondary next season will be from the class of 2009 — safeties Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald and cornerback Torin Harris.

Moore found himself behind all three of those players as he shuffled between safety and cornerback during his one-year tenure at USC, but as a talented player the Trojans will still miss him for depth purposes.

5. Shoemate -- Although not a starter, Shoemate was clearly the planned successor to one of the nation's top fullbacks in senior Stanley Havili. The problem was, of course, Shoemate never wanted to play fullback. He committed to USC after his sophomore year at Servite High School (Anaheim, Calif.) as an athlete and was shoehorned into playing wide receiver in fall camp as a true freshman. Midway through that 2008 season, he was switched to fullback and he never moved away from that position for the next year-plus.

To fill his spot, the Trojans will likely need to utilize incoming freshman Soma Vainuku (Eureka, Calif./Eureka) to back up Havili and prepare to start in 2011. A three-star recruit, Vainuku doesn't possess the pure speed Shoemate had but appears to be a vicious blocker. Problem is, Vainuku

--

And then there's Seantrel Henderson. The nation's top-rated offensive tackle, the 6-foot-7, 295-pound behemoth committed to USC on Signing Day in February and signed the next month, only to never actually appear at USC for the start of the summer session with the rest of his classmates (except for Vainuku and linebacker Glen Stanley, of course, but we'll get to that on another occasion).

A controversy ensued, as many predicted, and Kiffin released Henderson from his letter of intent last week. Three days later, Henderson signed with Miami, leaving the Trojans with no incoming tackles and a gaping hole on the offensive line. What would have Henderson have meant for the 2010 Trojans?

Two things: a dominant lineman to compete with Matt Kalil for the starting spot at left tackle, and depth. Now, if either Kalil or right tackle Tyron Smith go down with an injury, the Trojans will be forced to resort to players who have never logged significant snaps in a game situation.

In fact, depth is the real issue with all of these transfers. As we said, none of the five transfers were likely starters this season. But the interesting thing about football — and college football, especially — is that a backup in September can easily be a starter by November or December.

When players start to get hurt, Kiffin's squad will feel the hurt of the transfers, and, accordingly, the sanctions. Until then, the effects should be minimal.

Wednesday links and notes

July, 7, 2010
7/07/10
5:10
PM PT
A few things to pass along on this Wednesday:
  • Just as Seantrel Henderson wanted out of his letter of intent to USC — and got it, Tuesday — another Trojan signee in the class of 2010 wants out. Linebacker Glen Stanley (Thatcher, Ariz./Eastern Arizona JC) has requested his release from USC, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel. Interestingly, his comments in the Sentinel — "Hopefully they grant my release," he said — contrast directly with coach Lane Kiffin's comments to the L.A. Times on Tuesday: "We anticipate Glen being here by fall camp once he has taken care of everything." The Stanley saga has been long and winding. The juco linebacker first committed to UCF last fall with the stated intention of enrolling at the school in January. He didn't, of course, and he didn't resurface again until he committed Tennessee in January, a week before Signing Day. Then, on Signing Day, he faxed in his letter of intent to USC in what was regarded as a mild surprise, even by recruiting insiders.
  • In other football news, USC athletic director Mike Garrett has sent formal letters to a number of schools apologizing for incorrect allegations concerning the recruitment of USC freshman running back Dillon Baxter, an early enrollee who practiced with the Trojans during the spring. The day after the NCAA announced its sanctions on the football program, the Trojans went public with allegations that five schools — Florida, Washington, Oregon, Fresno State and Alabama — had contacted Baxter against NCAA rules. Questions were raised about the Baxter claims because the San Diego native reportedly lost his phone just after the incident and was unable to provide proof of calls from any of the schools. Now, various media reports have confirmed that each of the other schools have all received Garrett's apology letter as well.
  • On basketball: two former Trojans — guards Dwight Lewis and Marcus Johnson — will compete against each other in the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League on Friday as members of the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns summer-league teams. The two squads will match up at 3 p.m. at COX Pavilion in Vegas. Meanwhile, fellow former USC guard Gabe Pruitt is listed on the official summer-league roster for the New Jersey Nets but has not logged playing time in any of the Nets' first three contests.
  • And, lastly, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that — while Tennessee did turn down an opportunity to face USC in 2011 — it was not Kiffin who first approached the Volunteers' athletic department with the possibility, but, rather an Atlanta Sports Council official. Either way, the Trojans and Volunteers will not play in the 2011 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and will instead have to wait until a two-year home-and-home series begins in 2021 to face each other — barring, of course, a bowl game matchup.

Loss of Henderson leaves offensive line depth-free

July, 6, 2010
7/06/10
10:52
PM PT
Seantrel Henderson is — in all likehood, of course — gone, leaving USC is now dangerously, dangerously thin at the two offensive tackle spots.

The depth chart released by first-year coach Lane Kiffin at the end of his first spring practice with the squad featured just three scholarship tackles — and only two healthy ones, redshirt sophomore Matt Kalil and junior Tyron Smith.

The other tackle on the depth chart, redshirt junior Martin Coleman, has suffered from a variety of nagging injuries throughout his USC career and is unlikely to see the field for any meaningful snaps this season. In two seasons, he's appeared in one game for the Trojans — then as a reserve offensive guard.

Another option at tackle, redshirt freshman Kevin Graf, spent the spring working at offensive guard due to injuries there and appeared as the starter at left guard in front of the injured Butch Lewis on the end-of-spring depth chart.

Assuming Graf transitions back to tackle in fall camp, he will be the Trojans' only real backup for Kalil and Smith at the bookend line positions and one of only six scholarship backups across the entire offensive line.

Compounding the problem, only one of those players — undersized redshirt freshman guard/center John Martinez — stayed healthy for the duration of 2010 spring practice.

The tandem of Kalil and Smith carries a total of 13 starts, essentially one full season. Smith started the first 12 games at right tackle across before becoming academically ineligible for USC's Emerald Bowl game against Boston College. Kalil then started that game — his first as a Trojan — and performed well in USC's win.

It's worth mentioning, also, that Smith had thumb surgery prior to spring practice and that Kalil missed considerable time during his redshirt season in 2008 due to a sprained knee, and missed some of spring practice this April.

In the past, USC has prided itself on versatility among its players, especially among the offensive line. But the current depth chart on the line seems to have a limited amount of that attribute.

Yes, Martinez can play either of the three spots in the middle of the line and Lewis started seven games at right tackle in 2008. But, other than those two, the other linemen tend to stick to their positions.

Redshirt junior center Michael Reardon worked at tackle during his first year at USC but was never a serious threat for playing time, similar to Coleman. Redshirt senior Zack Heberer has spent the duration of his Trojan career at guard, as has redshirt sophomore Khaled Holmes, a likely starter in 2010. Senior Kristofer O'Dowd started the first game of his career at center in 2007 and has never played another position for the Trojans.

What does this all mean for next season?

Firstly, USC's lone class of 2010 offensive line recruit — sizably undersized center/guard Giovanni Di Poalo — probably will not redshirt. Di Poalo, a three-star recruit and the 38th-ranked guard in the class by ESPNU, is listed at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds. He'll need to bulk up immediately.

Secondly, the Trojans will simply need to avoid injuries. Counting Di Poalo, James Cregg's group will have 11 scholarship players — plus capable walk-on Abe Markowitz — available for 2010. An injury or two would put USC at only two-deep or worse for every spot, not an enviable position.

Fans will likely be reminded of spring practice, when Kiffin frequently had only six or seven linemen available for use and was forced to adjust his offensive gameplan accordingly. It wasn't a pretty sight in intra-squad scrimmages, and it surely won't be a pretty sight in Pac-10 play.

We won't know the exact extent of the depth issues until September, but we already know one thing for sure: It'll be interesting.

Trojans get 2011 commit, Henderson wavers

July, 5, 2010
7/05/10
6:20
PM PT
We've got two updates for after the Fourth of July festivities.

First, USC secured its second special-teams recruit for the class of 2011 with the commitment of long snapper Peter McBride (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral). McBride, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound center and snapper for Chaparral, will enroll in January to help USC work around the NCAA-mandated scholarship limitations that take effect next fall.

The Trojans did the same thing with 2011 kicker commit Andre Heidari(Bakersfield, Calif./Stockdale), essentially making both players count for the 2010 books and not those of 2011. McBride told USCfootball.com that his primary recruiter -- USC's first-year special teams coach John Baxter -- told him he had to be able to enroll early to get a scholarship.

On another note, class of 2010 commit Seantrel Henderson(St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Durham Hall) has yet to report for summer school at USC and is reportedly wavering on his commitment to the school. Reports over the weekend had Henderson visiting Miami — one of his top choices before he decided on the Trojans — but ESPN.com's Heather Dinich has a source at Miami who confirms Henderson was not on campus.

Playing by NCAA rules, it would appear Henderson would not be allowed to visit. The offensive lineman finally signed a letter of intent and faxed it to USC in March. He cannot visit another school without USC first granting him a release.

Looking at the spring football depth chart: offense

March, 24, 2010
3/24/10
11:50
PM PT
Spring practice begins a week from today for USC. Let's delve into a little bit of what we can expect from the 15-practice schedule, going position by position through USC's offense and expectations for each. Alphabetically, we dive into the significant players at each spot. We'll have defense tomorrow.

QB: Matt Barkley, Mitch Mustain, John Manoogian, Brett Kan

Barkley, a sophomore, is the clear favorite to start at quarterback, despite coach Lane Kiffin's comments that every position would be up for grabs during practice. Mustain has thrown only 16 passes in a USC uniform but did win all eight of his starts as a true freshman at Arkansas. Manoogian and Kan are walk-ons who will vie for the third-string quarterback spot — at least until incoming freshman Jesse Scroggins begins to practice with the team in the summer. Something to watch: the number of reps Mustain gets on a daily basis during spring practice. That, in itself, will tell a great deal.

RB: Dillon Baxter, Allen Bradford, C.J. Gable, Curtis McNeal, Marc Tyler

Bradford is expected to get the majority of carries this season, but there's room for Gable, Tyler and McNeal to find their way into the rotation. Baxter will be auditioning at multiple positions this spring, including running back. Bradford broke through in 2009, running the ball 115 times for 668 yards and eight touchdowns, but Gable fell through the cracks, earning just 24 carries. McNeal and Tyler both possess considerable talent, as products of Los Angeles-area Venice and Oaks Christian high schools, respectively.

FB: Stanley Havili, D.J. Shoemate, Hunter Simmons

Havili is the clear-cut starter, with Shoemate his backup. Said running backs coach Todd McNair of Havili in the USCRipsIt preview: "I expect him to continue to push to get better and become an all-around great fullback." Simmons is a walk-on. With Kiffin calling plays this year, it'll be interesting to see how/if he incorporates Havili into the passing game. The senior to-be has caught at least 22 passes in each of his previous seasons at USC.

WR: David Ausberry, Dillon Baxter, Brice Butler, Brandon Carswell, De'Von Flournoy, Ronald Johnson, Travon Patterson, Kyle Prater

This will be the position to watch this spring, as the Trojans attempt to replace Damian Williams, who left school early for the NFL draft. The favorites to start alongside the clear No. 1 Johnson are Ausberry and Butler. Ausberry has every physical attribute you'd want in a pass-catcher — the Spring Prospectus calls him USC's "most physical receiver" — but his hands are questionable at best. Reports out of team workouts have Ausberry practicing some at tight end, where his 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame may be better suited. Butler isn't as physical, but his routes are more crisp and his work ethic is strong.

Either way, both Ausberry and Butler will be counted on as key targets for Barkley. Other receivers who have something to prove this spring include Prater and Flournoy. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Prater graduated a semester early from Proviso West (Ill.) and has may be the best combination of size and speed among the receivers. Flournoy, at 6 feet, 180 pounds, has the potential to be a threat the way Williams was for the Trojans. Both Patterson and Carswell were highly regarded recruits out of high school who've yet to fulfill expectations at the college level. Patterson's a speedster-type, Carswell, a junior who has started three games in his USC career, is a more balanced receiver.

TE: Blake Ayles, Jordan Cameron, Rhett Ellison

One of these three will earn the starting tight end spot by the time spring practice is over, but it could very well be snatched from them by any one of the trio of incoming freshmen tight ends (Xavier Grimble, Randall Telfer and Christian Thomas). Cameron's switching over from receiver for spring practice. Between the two others, Ellison has more experience, having started six games in his career, but Ayles is more talented. The two combined for just 13 catches for 128 yards in 2009.

OT: Martin Coleman, Kevin Graf, Matt Kalil, Tyron Smith

Smith started most of last season; Kalil replaced him in the Emerald Bowl when he became academically ineligible. Together, the two will be the projected as bookend tackles — at least in spring practice. Then all-everything offensive line signee Seantrel Henderson arrives on campus in the fall to compete for one of the spots. Coleman, a junior to-be, has been severely hampered by injuries in his USC career. Graf redshirted as a true freshman last season.

OG: Zack Heberer, Khaled Holmes, Butch Lewis, John Martinez

Lewis will come into spring practice as a starter at one guard spot. Holmes and Heberer will be the heaviest competitors for the other position. Heberer, a senior t0-be, started five games in the 2008 season but lost out to Alex Parsons for a starting position a year ago. Holmes, a Mater Dei High grad, is a redshirt sophomore to-be who has appeared in only three games as a Trojans.

C: Abe Markowitz, Kristofer O'Dowd, Michael Reardon

O'Dowd was a standout his first two seasons at USC, earning Preseason All-American honors before last season but struggled to rebound from injury. He started just seven games, willingly giving away his starting spot to Jeff Byers near the end of the year. Reardon was named Service Team Offensive Player of the Year last season but has hardly logged game time on the offensive line. Markowitz is a walk-on who moonlights on the track and field team.

Selection Monday

March, 15, 2010
3/15/10
5:32
PM PT
Today's the day for the Women of Troy — the day they find out if a 19-12 overall record (and 12-6 in conference play) is good enough for an NCAA Tournament bid.

The latest projection from our Charlie Creme has USC earning a No. 10 seed and opening up against Wisconsin in the Kansas City Regional. That would mean a Sunday start for the Women of Troy in Notre Dame, Ind. and a potential second-round matchup against second-seeded Notre Dame in its home city.

But Creme also lists the Women of Troy as one of the "last four in" to the tournament bracket, meaning their placement is almost a toss-up for the selection committee. Whatever ends up happening, USC is likely to be either one of the last four in or last four out. Look for the Women of Troy to be between a nine and eleven seed if they do garner a bid.

We'll have a report from the Galen Center Founder's Room, where head coach Michael Cooper's team is planning to gather to watch the selection show at 4 p.m.

Notes: In other news, offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson's father told our JC Shurburtt that Henderson plans to sign a letter of intent and financial aid agreement with USC this week...The Orange County Register reports that USC's 2010 season opener — Sept. 2 at Hawaii — will start at 8 p.m. PST...Incidentally, USC baseball will try to go for its third consecutive win tonight in Hawaii. The Trojans beat the Rainbows 12-2 last night as star first baseman Ricky Oropesa went 5-for-5 with two RBI.

Recapping Tuesday

February, 23, 2010
2/23/10
11:27
PM PT
A baseball victory, more news on the Kevin O'Neill conference-call front, weekend happenings and recruiting speculation. All in Tuesday's links and notes:
  • The Los Angeles Times reports O'Neill's conference call with the NCAA Committee on Infractions that took place last Friday lasted nearly five hours. Said O'Neill of the correlation between a lack of a normal Friday schedule and Saturday's loss to Washington State, according to the Times: "It was a different situation. It threw us off our routine somewhat, but that's the way it is." O'Neill's team will host Oregon on Thursday and Oregon State on Saturday at the Galen Center. The Oregon State game will be senior night for USC's Dwight Lewis, Mike Gerrity, and Marcus Johnson.
  • Speaking of basketball, a documentary featuring USC guard Jio Fontan, titled "The Street Stops Here," is set for release next month. Fontan is featured as a high school senior at Jersey City St. Anthony High School. Says the press kit's biography of Fontan, who transferred to USC from Fordham after the fall semester: "A senior starting point guard, Jio Fontan is a co-captain of the team and is often seen as a soft voice of reason. Smart and strong-minded, Fontan is determined to learn from his father's transgressions and work hard in school to ensure that he is defined by more than just basketball." We'll soon have a review of the documentary, produced by Chicago-based Teamworks Media.
  • Meanwhile, the Orange County Register reports offensive line recruit Seantrel Henderson has no timetable on signing a letter of intent. Henderson committed to the Trojans on National Signing Day earlier this month but has not officially signed with USC. The Register quotes his father, Sean, as saying the Henderson family is still "just gathering info."
  • USC baseball managed to eek out a win in its home opener, 6-5 over Loyola Marymount. Sophomore right-hander Ben Mount made the start and lasted six innings, giving up only two hits and no walks. Reliever Brett Williams struck out the last batter of the game — and only one he faced — to earn the victory over his former team. The Trojans used some small ball in their half of the eighth inning, putting together two singles, a walk, a hit batter and an error to score three runs and take the lead. Tweeted freshman Cade Kreuter, coach Chad Kreuter's son, after the game: "another rbi under my belt, another win under our belt..i said we gonna have a rainy day tomorrow so 'brella up.' " The Trojans host Rikkyo University in an exhibition game Wednesday at Dedeaux Field.
  • On deck for this weekend is the NFL Combine, which actually begins Wednesday in Indianapolis. Workouts don't start until Saturday, however. The Daily News has the position-by-position workout schedule: offensive lineman, tight ends and specialists on Saturday; quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs on Sunday; defensive linemen and linebackers on Monday; and defensive backs on Tuesday.

Late breaking news

February, 3, 2010
2/03/10
10:34
PM PT
With the USC coaching staff at the Galen Center Founder's Room for a recruiting banquet, two big pieces of news have come across the wires.

For one, offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Durham Hall) has not signed his letter of intent, instead waiting until USC appears before an NCAA infractions committee on Feb. 19-21. Henderson announced earlier today he would attend USC, so this development comes as a surprise. The story was first reported by the New York Times' Thayer Evans, who had followed Henderson and his father Sean around for the last week of the recruiting process.

The other development is more positive. USC received a commitment from junior college defensive end Marquis Jackson (Santa Clarita, Calif./College of the Canyons), who told USCfootball.com on Wednesday night that he will sign with the Trojans.

Jackson, committed to UCLA as of Tuesday, decided to switch after complications with the letter-of-intent process with the Bruins. His signing still has not been officially announced by the university, but is expected to come by Thursday.

To close out Wednesday's developments, USC has signed 18 recruits, with two more expected in the next day (Jackson and fullback Soma Vainuku) and one more player committed but without immediate plans to sign (Henderson).

Those 18 signees are, in alphabetical order:
  • WR Markeith Ambles (McDonough, Ga./Henry County)
  • DB Dion Bailey (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood)
  • RB/WR Dillon Baxter (San Diego, Calif./Mission Bay)
  • DB Anthony Brown(Rialto, Calif./Kaiser)
  • OL Giovanni Di Poalo(Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure)
  • TE Xavier Grimble(Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman)
  • DB Patrick Hall (Oxnard, Calif./St. Bonaventure)
  • RB D.J. Morgan (Woodland Hills, Calif./Taft)
  • WR Kyle Prater (Maywood, Ill./Proviso West)
  • LB Hayes Pullard(Los Angeles, Calif./Crenshaw)
  • DB Nickell Robey(Frostproof, Fla./Frostproof)
  • QBJesse Scroggins (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood)
  • LB Glen Stanley(Thatcher, Ariz./Eastern Arizona JC)
  • TE Randall Telfer(Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga)
  • TE Christian Thomas(Palmdale, Calif./Highland)
  • DT George Uko (Chino, Calif./Don Lugo)
  • WR Robert Woods (Carson, Calif./Serra)
  • DB Demetrius Wright (Corona, Calif./Corona)

Late afternoon update

February, 3, 2010
2/03/10
7:35
PM PT
Let's wrap up a few more signings and non-signings:

Running back D.J. Morgan (Woodland Hills, Calif./Taft) has officially signed with USC, as has linebacker Hayes Pullard (Los Angeles, Calif./Crenshaw).

Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Durham Hall) and fullback Soma Vainuku (Eureka, Calif./Eureka) are yet to be officially announced by the university, but their signings are expected in the near future.

With early enrollees Kyle Prater, Dillon Baxter and Patrick Hall, USC will have at least 19 players in the class of 2010. More are still a possibility though.

"If you count the guys that are here, I would anticipate that being 21," Kiffin said in his news conference. "But there are still some things up in the air."

The letters have been arriving all day long at Heritage Hall — since 4:01 a.m., to be exact, when cornerback Nickell Robey (Frostproof, Fla./Frostproof) sent his. The primary word I'd use to describe Kiffin's appearance in the news conference is tired — more than any other word, tired.

It has been a long 21 days for Kiffin, recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza, and Co. And it's not over yet, with some recruits still out there, such as five-star safety Latwan Anderson(Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville). Anderson's process — and that of a few others — could drag out over the coming weeks.

More to come tonight.

Seantrel Henderson to USC

February, 3, 2010
2/03/10
3:09
PM PT
ESPNU's 8th-ranked player in the nation, offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Durham Hall), has officially chosen USC.

Reports had Henderson flickering between USC, Ohio State, Miami in recent days, but his camp had never given any sort of formal indication to where he would choose. Now, Henderson will become a Trojan.

Listed at 6-foot-7 and 295 pounds, the much-heralded Henderson was the highest-rated prospect still unsigned. Says his ESPN scouting report: "Overall, we like Henderson's chances to develop into an early starter and perhaps even a dominant player at the conclusion of his college career."

Henderson just about wraps up a rollercoaster-esque day for USC, although the Trojans have yet to receive a LOI from linebacker Hayes Pullard (Los Angeles, Calif./Crenshaw). But Pullard announced late last night that he would choose USC and has a formal announcement scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Altogether, ESPNU has USC's recruiting class ranked 10th in the nation. Head Coach Lane Kiffin, on the job for 21 days, will hold a press conference at 4:30 to talk about the class.

More to come later.

Early afternoon update

February, 3, 2010
2/03/10
1:38
PM PT
And now we're getting some intrigue, as the twists and turns have started to develop in today's National Signing Day.

Linebacker Josh Shirley (Fontana, Calif./Kaiser) surprised many by picking UCLA over Miami (Fl), USC, Arizona and Washington. UCLA wasn't even thought to be a finalist for the four-star prospect.

The Trojans officially signed tight end Christian Thomas (Palmdale, Calif./Highland), creating a logjam of three top-10 signees at the tight end spot. Tweeted USC quarterback Matt Barkley of USC's haul at the receiver and tight end spots: "Three of the top TEs in the country and four 5 star receivers added to what I already have?? Feels like Christmas."

Three other players decided against coming to USC. Those are offensive tackle John Cullen (Fullerton, Calif./Fullerton CC), who chose Utah over the Trojans, safety Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla./Boyd Anderson), who was thought to be a Florida State commit but chose Michigan over both the Seminoles and Trojans, and offensive tackle Chaz Green (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic), who decided on Florida.

Safety Dietrich Riley (La Canada, Calif./St. Francis) will announce his decision at our ESPN Los Angeles studios in the next hour. Riley is thought to be between UCLA and USC.

More to come.

Signing Day preview

February, 3, 2010
2/03/10
12:34
AM PT
It's officially National Signing Day. There will be lots to talk about in the coming day, so let's get some of it out of the way here. Here's what we know about who's going where:
  • Linebacker Hayes Pullard (Los Angeles, Calif./Crenshaw) has told ESPN Rise's Greg Biggins he will be a Trojan. A week ago, this would have been a sizable surprise, but rumors pointed the 6-foot, 220-pound Pullard toward Troy in the last 48 or so hours. UCLA has signed many prominent Crenshaw products in recent years, so Pullard's signing will represent a significant coup for the Trojans — especially when it comes to 2011 prospect De'Anthony Thomas. Thomas, a likely five-star recruit, has both USC and UCLA high on his list now. Plus, Pullard is USC's first signing at linebacker.
  • Nickell Robey, a cornerback from Frostproof, Fla., is also coming to USC, his father said Tuesday night. Robey was recruited by USC coach Lane Kiffin when he was at Tennessee, and his interest in the Kiffin regime carried over to USC. He's small at 5-8, 165 pounds but ultra speedy. His stature and home state will remind some of current sophomore cornerback T.J. Bryant.
  • The players who are expected to fax their letters of intent to Heritage Hall on Wednesday without much debate include receiver/athlete Robert Woods (Gardena, Calif./Serra), quarterback Jesse Scroggins (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood), and defensive tackle George Uko (Chino, Calif./Don Lugo). The full list, as it stands now, has 10 solid verbal commitments — plus two early enrollees in Kyle Prater and Dillon Baxter.
  • We also know that USC will not sign offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio, who will sign with Alabama. Kouandjio officially visited campus last weekend but had long been interested in the Crimson Tide. USC lost a commitment in punter Matt Darr earlier this week when Darr switched to Fresno State.

Now, for the players who still have decisions to make:
  • It starts with juco linebacker Glen Stanley, who will make his announcement in his hometown of Ocala, Fla., at 5:30 a.m. PST. Stanley will likely decide between USC and Tennessee. He's currently committed to the Volunteers.
  • Safety Dietrich Riley (La Canada, Calif./St. Francis), profiled in the Los Angeles Times this week, has wavered between USC and UCLA all throughout the process. It's also possible he could decide on another high-profile school like Notre Dame. His announcement comes live on ESPNU at 1:30 p.m.
  • The ever-popular Seantrel Henderson (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham)will announce his decision on CSTV at 12 p.m from New York City. Henderson has not given any inclinations to where he will sign, although recent reports have him pegged as a Trojan. We won't know until he says for sure, but Henderson is surely a physical specimen at 6-8, 300 pounds. He plays basketball too.
  • Two more players who will decide between USC and UCLA, linebacker Jordan Zumwalt (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison) and Giovanni Di Poalo (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) will not make formal announcements. Instead, both Zumwalt and Di Poalo will just send their letters to the schools and let them spread the word.
  • Other announcements will come from Sean Parker (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne) at 6:45 a.m., Florida product Chaz Green (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic) at 12:30 p.m., and Josh Shirley (Fontana, Calif./Kaiser) and Christian Thomas (Palmdale, Calif./Highland) at 1 p.m. Georgia product Markeith Ambles (McDonough, Ga./Henry County) is scheduled for an 8 a.m. announcement, but some reports have him holding off on a decision. Ambles, deciding between North Carolina, USC, and Tennessee, tweeted Tuesday night: "who will i be tomorrow a vol, trogan, or tar heel!!!!!!" Yes, he mispelled "Trojan." And he's wearing a UNC hat in his Twitter background.
  • Faxes can begin to arrive at Heritage Hall as early as 4 a.m. PST. We'll have frequent updates on the blog throughout the day, but the official USC blog will have real-time updates — and humorous late-night posts, like this one.

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