Although Pete Carroll's USC team finished four games with a smaller score than its foes, it hasn't changed Pete's luck in recruiting, where he generally has the highest score.
As we go to press, Scout.com has 38 players with five-star ratings, the highest ranking awarded.
Of those 38, USC has commitments from Roberts Woods of Gardena Serra and Kyle Prater of Proviso West in Hillside, Ill., the top two receivers in the nation; Xavier Grimble, the country's No. 1 tight end from Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, and No. 4 running back Dillon Baxter of Mission Bay High in San Diego, who might have been ranked higher had he not had to play quarterback because his team had no one else for the position.
So, Carroll already has locked up a solid portion of the nation's elite, and he ain't stopping there.
SCPlaybook has contacts who insist he has two other five-star players wrapped up, and is 50-50 on at least two more of these prep superstars.
Wow, what would have happened if Pete hadn't had all that bad luck this season? Would he have run the table?
The Trojans are still far down Scout.com's team rankings list. That's because they have only 13 commitments and all those ranked above them have more. Unless USC has some last-minute decommits, as it did last year, the Trojans will be at the top of the list or near there after letters of intent roll in on the first Wednesday of 2010.
Let's take a quick trip through the prospects. We won't mention all the players because SCPlaybook has a list of those prospects.
Robert Woods—Serra has a great program, a terrific coach in Scott Altenberg and Woods is a prime example of what the school has to offer. Great speed, special moves, toughness, fine work ethic. Should play often his first season. His teammate, George Farmer, son of a former L.A. Rams player, is on the USC track for 2011, and is a cinch for a five-star ranking.
Kyle Prater—He's 6-5, 205 with 4.55 40 speed. In the words of ESPN analyst: ``Just exactly what USC wants and needs.''
Dillon Baxter—He's 6-0, 205 with 4.5 speed. Has been told by Carroll that he'll be used this coming season in the ``Wildcat'' formation in which the running back receives a direct snap from center and is expected to be able to run or pass. Baxter is a perfect fit for this formation.
Those are the five-star players. We'll now mention those who are still uncommitted and add a comment. We'll also mention some elite four-star players.
Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, St. Paul Credin-Derham Hall offensive tackle (6-8, 301). Trojan players who showed him around say he acted enthused, but he was reported to have twittered about the USC-Arizona game that he didn't like the boos or the empty seats (10,000 under capacity). In our opinion, it's 50-50 with USC getting the nod.
Chaz Green from Tampa Catholic is Scout.com's No. 10 ranked offensive tackle and we believe he'll take an official visit to USC. And we also believe his top three schools are Florida, Tennessee and USC. This could be one of those surprising gets the Trojans have been known to grab late in the process. Is it likely? No way of knowing until/unless he visits.
Defensive tackle George Uko of Don Antonio Lugo in Chino. USC chances are very good.
Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat of Plano, Tex. Things are looking good for the Trojans and their quest for the top-ranked defensive end in the nation. Had a great visit. Father played for the Dallas Cowboys with USC linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr.
Running back Lache Seastrunk of Temple, Tex. Listed as No. 2 back in country by Scout.com. Coming back for an official visit, so the Trojans are looking very solid with Lache.
Owa Odighizuwa from Portland, OR, visited USC last weekend with USC commits, cornerback Anthony Brown, offensive lineman Brice Schwab from Palomar College and defensive tackle Sione Potoae from Washington.
USC was running third behind Oregon and California, but you never know how things will shape up with recruiting. Especially with USC.
Potoae reaffirmed his commitment to Washington after his official visit to USC.
Linebacker Jeff Luc of Port St. Lucie, Fla. Committed to Florida State.
Linebacker Jordan Hicks, West Chester, Ohio. His coach said a month ago that Hicks would visit USC, but the player hasn't. Not looking good for the Trojans, and that might be an understatement?
The Trojans are waiting for linebacker Christian Jones to take his official visit to USC in mid January. It will be his final official visit. Look for Pete Carroll to schedule his in-home visit with Jones shortly after. Defensive tackle Ricky Heimuli, Salt Lake City. Talks about no other school than USC. So. . .?
Linebacker Josh Shirley, Kaiser in Fontana. Seems to favor USC.
Safety Sean Parker, Narbonne, Harbor City. We're picking USC.
Safety Dietrich Riley, St. Francis, La Canada. USC, UCLA and Florida are his top schools.
Safety/Running Back Tony Jefferson from Chula Vista will choose between USC and Oklahoma on Friday night at 9:00 p.m. PST at the San Diego Hall of Champions. We believe Jefferson will choose the Trojans, but certainly wouldn't bet the ranch.
For those worried that Jefferson is committing at the same venue and on the same night as five-star wide receiver Kenny Stills, just know that both are committing at an awards event. Numerous San Diego prep stars will be in attendance.
Marquis Flowers from Goodyear, Ariz., said his official visit to USC was his best and the Trojans will battle it out with Arizona for his commitment. We like USC's chances.
Demetrius Wright from Corona is one of the elite cornerbacks in the 2010 class ands after his official visit to USC said, "I know where I will go to school." USC is the clear favorite for Wright. He will announce his commitment at The Army All-American Game and enroll in January.
Another elite cornerback the Trojans have offered is Anthony Jefferson from Los Angeles Cathedral. He is perhaps as good as any cornerback on the West Coast, but USC seems to have slowed on him, becauase there won't be enough spots available for another corner. Word is USC could pick up its efforts with Jefferson and get him. Right now the safe bet is on him ending up at UCLA.
Defensive end Gabe King from Eugene, OR, took an official visit to USC, but we haven't had an opportunity to speak with him.
USC may only have 13 verbal commitments, but look for Coach Carroll and his staff to finish extremely strong and end up with an elite recruiting class....again.
Loel Schrader contributed to this story.