Future Impact: Clayton Johnston

Anaheim (Calif.) Servite three-star offensive tackle Clayton Johnston becomes commitment No. 10 for the Trojans Wednesday. Greg Biggins discusses his impact for USC now and in the future.

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 Clayton Johnston.

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 program."

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?"

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