USC Recruiting Reset -- The Defense

USC has all its 25 scholarships available for the first time in three years to hand out in the 2015 recruiting class. So how's it looking for first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian? SCPlaybook has a recruiting reset on scholarship allotment and takes a look at who is liking the Trojans. USC may not have to go far from home to put together a strong 2015 class...

Defensive line
The defensive line is a major area of need for the Trojans in 2015 and there are plenty of prospects out West to fill it.

USC will try to sign four linemen in the class and is in a great position with a few of its top targets.

Fresno (Calif.) Clovis North defensive tackle Jacob Daniel recently tweeted that he is close to making a commitment and all indications point to the 6-foot-4 298-pound tackle to make it to the Trojans.

Daniel, a Scout four-star recruit, and his mother recently visited USC. It was a crucial visit for Daniel and his mother, who wanted to see the campus and ensure that the Trojans academics are up to par.

Keep in mind, Daniel committed to this USC staff when they were at Washington and Daniel recently told Scout its been coach Steve Sarkisian's newest addition – defensive line coach Chris Wilson – who he's hit it off with the most.

Concord (Calif.) De La Salle defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie recently narrowed his recruitment to a favorite five schools ‘right now' including Arizona, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and USC.

Those close to the recruitment of the Scout five-star think his recruitment will come down to a National Signing Day decision. McKenzie was at USC's Junior Day in January and told Scout he was ‘blown away' by what he saw. Though he's on the West Coast now, McKenzie has ties to Wisconsin, Tennessee and Wisconsin. It will bode well for the Trojans to be in this recruitment until the end.

How about some pipeline action? Gardena (Calif.) Serra defensive end Rasheem Green was a familiar face all spring at USC, attending multiple practices. The Scout five-star is rumored to be heavily favoring the Trojans, though publicly he says he's even across the board.

Why wouldn't USC be his future home? Plenty of his Serra teammates are currently there, including freshman quarterback Jalen Greene and freshman athlete Adoree Jackson will be arriving soon. Not to mention, Serra legends Robert Woods and Marqise Lee went to USC and former Cavalier George Farmer is still there.

If Green picks anyone but the Trojans, it will come as a major surprise.

The West Coast is loaded with talent on the defensive line. Moving south to Orange County (Calif.), there's five-star defensive end Keisean Lucier-South at Orange Lutheran high school.

Early leans have Lucier-South moving in the Westwood direction. He's made several trips to the UCLA campus and for just the first time went to USC a couple weeks ago. Lucier-South told Scout he ‘loved it' and ‘had a great time' on the visit.

So can the Trojans get the 6-foot-5 220-pound game changer to lean a little south from the Bruins? Those close to the recruitment certainly think the Trojans have a legitimate shot.

USC's defensive line coach Chris Wilson is also after Los Angeles (Calif.) Loyola defensive end Christian Rector. Rector, a Scout three-star, says it's the local schools – UCLA and USC – who are recruiting him the hardest and he feels a bit of pressure to stay close to home.

Rector, 6-foot-5 225-pounds, has plenty of ties to the Trojans. Both his grandfather and mother graduated from USC. Rector told Scout he wants to make a decision before his season starts in the fall.

The Bottom Line: USC is in a great position heading into the summer with all of the top local recruits on its defensive line board. There's a real possibility they can put together one of their best defensive line classes in years.

USC will lose one of its best defensive players on the field in middle linebacker Hayes Pullard. He'll be tough to replace, but if this class of West Coast recruits at the position pans out, it will be a great place for the Trojans to start.

Granite Bay (Calif.) middle linebacker Cameron Smith picked up a USC offer in January at the Trojans Junior Day. The No. 1 rated middle linebacker in 2015, Smith is a four-star recruit and the Trojans top target to plug the hole that will be left by the graduation of Pullard.

He nearly ended his recruitment at Junior Day, telling Scout he was on the verge of committing to linebackers coach Peter Sirmon. Ultimately, Smith decided to wait and now it appears his recruitment may play out until National Signing Day.

Smith told Scout he wants to eventually narrow his list to a top seven, to take five official visits, and include the two Los Angeles schools in his list.

Although every week it seems as though a new school is popping up as a potential favorite for Smith, don't be surprised when he ends up at USC – or maybe even across town, at UCLA.

The recruitment of Salem (Utah) Salem Hills outside linebacker Porter Gustin has absolutely taken off in just over a months time and USC tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo has been all over it.

Gustin moved from Idado to Utah, his film was distributed, and the result has been over 20 scholarship offers for the newly crowned Scout four-star.

So where does that leave the Trojans?

After a recent visit to campus, Gustin told Scout he ‘really, really liked' USC, adding that the offer from the Trojans was ‘really big'.

Gustin is actually the second outside linebacker to pick up a Trojan offer in the state of Utah. The other target? Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton four-star Osa Masina.

Masina, 6-foot-4 205-pounds, is a Scout four-star who Scout's Greg Biggins says ‘oozes athleticism'. He already has over twenty offers – but the Trojans look to be in a great position.

Masina recently made his second visit to campus, telling Scout he got to see the academic plans of the Trojans, spend time with his position coach, as well as Sarkisian.

Getting back to that pipeline talk… how about Gardena (Calif.) Serra five-star linebacker John Houston?

Houston was another Serra familiar face throughout USC's spring practices.

Houston, the No. 2 rated OLB in 2015, also remains steadfast he has no leaders – but don't be fooled. Scout has been reporting that Houston is a Trojan lean and it would be the smart move to believe USC will be in this recruitment until the very end.

Although Houston won't claim a leader, he says UCLA and USC are recruiting him hardest… and that his family grew up Trojan fans.

The Bottome Line:USC wants to bring in three to four linebackers in 2015 and by the looks of it as the Trojans head into the summer, they are in a great position to land the top local players on their board.

Defensive backs
The Trojans loaded up on cornerbacks in the 2014 class and they'll try to bring in three to four more defensive backs in the 2015 class.

The first prospect who has to be discussed here is Long Beach (Calif.) Poly cornerback Iman Marshall. Marshall is a Scout five-star recruit, the No. 3 rated cornerback and the No. 9 rated player in the Scout 300.

Marshall will have his choice of nearly any school across America… but could it come down to a West Coast battle for the talented player?

USC, UCLA and Stanford are all frontrunners for his talents. Lately, it's Marshall wearing USC gear to 7on7 tournaments while his father sports UCLA sweatshirts.

But is it really Stanford the Southern California schools need to look out for? Marshall and his father say its academics that are most important.

USC has already picked up a commitment from Pasadena (Calif.) Muir cornerback Taeon Mason. Mason, who can also play receiver, is a Scout four-star prospect.

He wasted no time jumping on the Trojan offer when he received it at Junior Day in January. He told Scout he is still open to hearing what other programs have to offer, but plans to remain committed to the Trojans.

The buzz around USC is that the staff fell in love with Mason's elite speed.

Scout four-star cornerback Dechaun Holiday picked up an offer from USC's staff when they were at Washington and that offer carried over to Southern California. The San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills product made an unofficial visit to USC during the Trojans spring practices… but right now, it seems like he's leaning a little more to UCLA than to the Cardinal and Gold.

Encino (Calif.) Crespi safety Marvell Tell is another target of Tuiasosopo. He was a visitor to USC's Junior Day and also made a stop by spring practices.

Tell, a Scout four-star and the No. 3 safety, will most likely take his time making a final decision, according to those close to his recruitment. Tell told Scout he will trim his list at the end of the school year.

The Trojans are also in on local cornerbacks Kanya Bell of Diamand Bar (Calif.) and Ykili Ross of Riverside (Calif.) Poly.

The Bottom Line: USC is off to a good start in the position group, identifying the speedster Mason before the rest… But the real coup for the Trojans will be landing a commitment from Iman Marshall – whose high school teammate, Juju Smith, will arrive on campus in June.

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