Kiffin delivers on Signing Day

Impressive haul is testament to Kiffin, USC's power in recruiting.

Lane Kiffin didn't need to throw bombs at other coaches, schools or even the NCAA on this Signing Day.

No, all he had to do was look at the press release heralding the 30 new players that had signed or enrolled at USC.

A far cry from the brash Kiffin that riled up everyone and everything at Tennessee before angering the Vol Nation with his midnight exit to Hollywood, a more subdued Kiffin sat in Heritage Hall on Wednesday with a mixture of elation and shock that USC had pulled it off.

The No. 5 recruiting class in the nation will do that to anyone.

And in the face of unprecedented NCAA sanctions, an avalanche of negative recruiting, roster deficiencies that needed to be addressed and a sub par 8-5 season no less.

Name one school – SEC, Pac-12 or anywhere in between – that could have signed a top-five, class under such adversity. Top 10? Top 20?

Only USC.

"If you weren't at a place like SC… all the ammo that everybody had going against you, for these kids to still choose USC because of the education and because of playing football here, I think it just speaks volumes," Kiffin said.

"It will be refreshing now to go on to next year's class and being on a level playing field."

(And don't think Tennessee has forgiven or forgotten that fact; what other explanation is there for the leak to Fanhouse that Kiffin would be cited for failure to monitor recruiting practices while on Rocky Top, timed precisely to coincide with Signing Day?)

In what Kiffin called "the most critical class that ever signed at USC," the foundation was laid to withstand dramatic scholarship reductions likely coming over the next three years. It also had to overcome deficiencies created late in the regime of Pete Carroll.

So Kiffin went out and did it. He signed six offensive linemen, five defensive linemen and five linebackers.

At worst, there will be the depth to field function scout teams, something that didn't happen last season as Kiffin had put out a call for any student, football experience or not, willing to be cannon fodder.

He found a fullback, a big back and addressed special teams.

"A roster that, prior to this class had 50 scholarship players, has now gone to 80 with the possibility of more soon to come," Kiffin said. "I think it's very deep. I think it addresses a lot of needs from position specific and from depth issues as well."

Kiffin did it by getting back to basics, recruiting Los Angeles and its surrounding suburbs hard. He and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron found diamonds in the rough like defensive lineman J.R. Tavai and offensive lineman Cody Temple to compliment known quantities like wide receiver George Farmer.

Now he has to do something with it.

Kiffin has learned his lessons on the recruiting trail and in terms of public relations. Can he address an offense that too often struggled to control the line of scrimmage, a defense that could never come up that critical stop, a team with a low football IQ that never put all three phases together?

This class hints Kiffin just might.

But in the end he still found yet another way to further tweak the disgruntled Vols by landing Kentucky linebacker Lamar Dawson, the biggest surprise of the day Kiffin said.

Dawson was favored to sign with Tennessee.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


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