Defensive LineKyle Moore was a four-star prospect that signed with the Trojans in 2005. The 6-6, 250-pound defensive lineman is a sophomore defensive end who served as a freshman backup recording six tackles and two fumble recoveries in 2005. He will compete with Jeff Schweiger and Alex Morrow for the vacated starting position of Frostee Rucker.
Averell Spicer was a five-star prospect ranked as the No. 2 defensive linemen in 2005. the 6-2, 265-pound Spicer is a red-shirt freshman defensive tackle who will be looking for playing time in 2006.
Walker Ashley was a four-star prospect the Trojans signed in 2005. Walker is a freshman who enrolled at USC this spring after originally signing with the Trojans in 2005(he did not qualify for admissions then) as a prep all-american from Minnesota.
Both Spicer and Ashley will compete for playing time/starting spot vacated by La Juan Ramsey. Travis Tofi and Fili Moala have a lot of experience under their belts and should give Ashley and Spicer some competition this fall.
Butch Lewis was a four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 11 offensive linemen in 2006. Butch is a player that should be fresh in Irish fan's minds. He is starting out on the defensive line as far as I can tell. He has the frame and skills to be a potential star at left tackle, but many teams liked him for the defensive side of the ball.
Alex Parsons was a four-star prospect signed in 2006. Alex is an interesting mix. He has transitioned from linebacker to possibly play defensive tackle in two years. He will need some more time to develop but has plenty of talent.
Derek Simmons was a four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 11 defensive linemen in 2006. Derek is another defensive tackle prospect who had solid Pac-10 offers and earned a scholarship with an impressive workout for the USC coaches.
The trio of prep All-Americans will look to contribute as freshman but will probably spend much more quality time in the weight room.
LinebackerUSC is linebacker-heavy currently. This unit is the heart of the defense, and the competition for playing time will be fierce amongst this incredible talent.
Rey Maualuga was a five-star prospect and ranked as the No. 2 linebacker in 2005. Rey was a freshman All-American last year with 37 tackles, 4.5 for loss, one sack, and one interception in 2005). Maualuga is promising sophomore who has quite a future at MLB if he can keep himself in check off the field. He will push incumbent Oscar Lua for the starting spot and will definitely see significant action regardless.
Brian Cushing was a five-star prospect and ranked as the No. 3 linebacker in 2005. Brian played quite a bit himself posting 23 tackles. He will compete with Dallas Sartz and Thomas Williams for the starting position on the strong side. Cushing is recovering from a shoulder injury last year. Sartz and Williams were both injured last year as well. It has been said that Sartz may be moved to strong safety this season, however.
Kaluka Maiava was a four-star prospect in 2005. Kaluka's recorded 20 tackles, one interception in 2005. According to USC head coach Pete Carroll, Maiava has beaten out Keith Rivers, who was last year's starter at the weakside position.
Luther Brown was a five-star prospect and ranked as the No. 4 linebacker in 2005. Luther was unfortunate when he missed the 2005 season with a back injury. He was limited in spring drills as well. He'll need to stay healthy to just get in the mix.
Mike Morgan was a four-star prospect the Trojans signed in 2006. Morgan is another top linebacker prospect who left the state of Texas and could have signed with anyone in the country including Notre Dame.
Josh Tatum was a five-star prospect and ranked as the No. 7 linebacker in 2006. Josh is a traditional linebacker prospect with athleticism. He is a very physical player with speed.
USC linebacker recruiting has been nothing short of perfect the past two classes, and they have gotten off to a great start with a commitment from Chris Gallipo, another five-star prospect for the 2007 class.
Defensive BackMozique McCurtis was rated as a one-star JC prospect in 2005. Mozique will battle for playing time at cornerback in 2006. He transferred then red-shirted in 2005 due to a sports hernia.
Cary Harris was a four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 6 cornerback in 2005. Cary served as a reserve and also played on special teams in 2005. He should battle for a starting spot this year.
Kevin Thomas was another four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 7 cornerback in 2005. Thomas is another corner who saw some playing time as a backup in 2005. He will also battle for a starting corner position in 2006.
Kevin Ellison was a three-star prospect and considered a linebacker in 2005. Ellison is battling back from a 2005 knee surgery. He figures to be a key factor at safety next season.
Will Harris was a four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 5 safety in 2005. Will was to battle for the starting position at safety but is out for this year with a knee injury.
Shareece Wright was a four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 12 cornerback in 2006. Wright was largely considered the top corner prospect from California this past year.
Alfred Rowe was a three-star prospect linebacker prospect in 2006 according to Scout.com. Some expect Rowe to find a home as a safety at USC. He was originally committed to Oregon State before being offered late by USC and he jumped at the opportunity.
Taylor Mays is another familiar name for Irish fans and was a five-star prospect and ranked as the No. 2 safety in 2006. Mays is a big, fast safety with a lot of upside. He was also recruited as a wide receiver.
Allen Bradford is another familiar name and was a five-star prospect and ranked as the No. 4 linebacker in 2006. Allen is an athletic player, who moves from sideline to sideline with speed. He played linebacker in high school but is being started out at safety.
Antwine Perez was another five-star prospect signed in 2006. Perez is considered a free safety prospect who can hit like a truck but he also has tremendous instincts, which help him excel in stopping the run and pass coverage.
3/4 of secondary is gone from last year for the Trojans. Most of those auditioning for a starting spot have limited experience but a ton of talent. In the safety battle freshman Antwine Perez got a head start by enrolling early. The others will enroll in the fall. Also, as mentioned, before C.J. Gable may be given a look at cornerback as well. Obviously a lot of players will be battling for playing time in the secondary and the competition will continue into the fall when the newcomers get in. Veteran Josh Pinkard probably has the No. 1 corner spot down for now. The other three positions appear to be wide open heading into the fall.
As you can see, USC is absolutely loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. The Trojans have signed eight five-star prospects, 11 four-start prospects and three three-star prospects over the past two seasons on defense.
For comparison purposes, Notre Dame hasn't had anywhere near that kind of luck signing five four-star prospects, 11 three-star prospects, and one two-star prospect.
It also should be said the five four-star prospects were signed last season—the first full recruiting season for Charlie Weis—and the Irish appear one their way to solving their talent problems on defense in 2007. Still, it's clearly obvious the Trojans, at least on defense, appear to have more talent than the Irish at this point.