Column: Number Crunching with Kiffin

A summary of National Signing Day, including the problems that remain for USC in the future.

After Feb. 1, has your head spun off from all the number crunching?

And to think, you're not even in tax time.

Here's a summary of the day: The Trojans took 12 players in the Class of 2012, with the headliners being two Florida commits, defensive end Leonard Williams and wide receiver Nelson Agholor. The coaching staff lost out on six players to other schools, but they will use those three spots to take early enrollees and to bring in 18 players the following season.

USC finished 20th in Scout's team rankings, with 10 less players than nearly every other school.

All well and great, except for two big issues: there is a big hole at tailback and the program might be over the 75 scholarship maximum.

With the departure of Amir Carlisle to Notre Dame and Dillon Baxter to San Diego State, Curtis McNeal and D.J. Morgan will be left to tow the running back line for USC in 2012.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin sounded serious when addressing the lack of depth there.

"It'll be extremely important to sign two [next year]," Kiffin said. "Yeah it's just one of those years, especially on the west coast, we just didn't find many guys. We don't really have a great answer for that."

He mentioned using incoming fullback Jahleel Pinner out of Mission Viejo High at times at tailback, but said he's at a disadvantage for not enrolling early. Kiffin said Soma Vainuku would start today at fullback.

George Farmer will likely stay at wide receiver, especially for the Spring. And incoming receiver Agholor "would be a guy that could do some things, not as an every down back but could potentially do some things back there."

As for the "our 75 is bigger than your 85" theory? A couple of players are apparently on the fringe, including Jesse Scroggins, who has "fallen behind academically," according to Kiffin.

And while Kiffin said that his numbers are different than an outsider's, everybody's numbers will be the same come fall.

"From our numbers, without getting real specific, I don't think they're probably what your numbers are showing exactly," Kiffin told a reporter. "I don't foresee it being an issue at all. We'll make sure that we're down to 75 at that point but I do not foresee it being an issue at all."

The head coach doesn't expect to redshirt as many players as he did the previous year, but also said it's too far out to tell.

"It's so far away. I know last year we pushed towards redshirting because the class [had] 30 guys and to balance out because we knew what was coming but it's so far away.

"Going into spring and there's so many question marks in the spring, and then the fall once we get here. It's way too hard to tell."

What won't be hard to tell: USC did well for what little it had. Rather than repent on those lost, Kiffin sounded genuinely excited for those who committed, including three offensive linemen in Zach Banner, Jordan Simmons and Max Tuerk (plus early enrollee Chad Wheeler).

And so did the one who matters most, Matt Barkley, who tweeted "Love my new big guys…I'm not gunna get touched this year!"

Neither will USC, especially if it continues to recruit this well each and every year.


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