Since the graduation of Matt Kalil and Tyron Smith, USC has struggled to sign true left tackle prospects.
Earlier this spring, USC secured the commitments of Windward School
offensive tackle Roy Hemsley and Powder Spring (Ga.) offensive tackle
Chuma Edoga. Wednesday, USC received a commitment from offensive tackle
While Johnston doesn't have the national accolades of Edoga or the
nickname of "Green Room Roy" to signify a possible first round pick in
the making, Clayton is still a big part of the puzzle at offensive line
for the Trojans in 2015.
According to National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins, Johnston's value
comes in positional need and his untapped potential as a lineman.
"I think he is a 100-percent tackle," said Biggins. "He has a prototype
frame, and can really play left or right tackle.
"He played right tackle last year for Servite, and had some grown
pains. I saw him against Mater Dei and he got beat up against Malik
McMorris some. But pound for pound, McMorris was probably the strongest
player out there.
"So Clayton came back this year and put on 40-pounds, which is
incredible. To think about a kid putting on 40-pounds in one year, but
he actually moves better now. He can get out and kick step. His lateral
mobility is really good.
"I love how aggressive he is and all Servite players sort of have that
edge to them. He has those long arms too, and is really still growing
into his body. I think he'll need a red shirt year, but I'd almost redshirt every lineman.
"The game is just so much more physical in college. But Clayton has all
of the upside and tools to be a contributor second or third year in the
Last February, USC signed two offensive lineman that have seen time at
tackle this off season in Jordan Austin and Chris Brown.
In addition to the in-coming freshmen adding depth this season, USC has
returners Chad Wheeler and Zach Banner on the offensive line coming
back for 2015.
While Johnston could redshirt, his new found 6-foot-6, 288-pound frame
still has the rest of this year to develop.
"He was 243-pounds at the NIKE Camp last year," said Biggins. "So yeah,
I was a little surprised he got the offer from USC, but I always
thought he was a USC caliber recruit.
"With USC, they tend to be involved with so many national guys and
already had two tackle commits, so I didn't see them running out and
offering another guy that quickly.
"But that goes to show you how well he did at the lineman camp. He also
dominated the P2P Camp out in Corona too. That's Chris Talamaivao
running that camp, so you had to think word got back to USC that
Clayton was good."
Biggins sees establishing the local base with recruits as a positive
move for Steve Sarksisian and the new Trojan coaching staff.
"If it's close between two prospects, go for the local guy," said
Biggins. "Even if he is almost as good, it's better to recruit locally.
"You can watch over him, and you know he wants to be a Trojan. You
don't have to put in the man hours to make sure some other school
doesn't come in and steal him.
"I think they saw that with Clayton. If he is as good as anyone else
they were recruiting nationally, why not offer him?"
Future Impact: Clayton Johnston
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