Future Impact: Cole Smith

Mission Viejo center prospect Cole Smith has tremendous bloodlines that suggest a lot of upside when he gets to campus next year at USC.

Mission Viejo (Calif.) offensive linemen Cole Smith becomes commitment No. 16 for USC in the class of 2015 Tuesday, with head coach Steve Sarkisian recruiting the 6-foot-3, 255-pound prospect as a center.

When offered a scholarship by USC last Monday, Sarkisian remarked to Smith that the Trojans wanted to recruit an offensive linemen in the "center breed." Meaning, the tradition of converting guards and offensive tackles to centers at USC may have run its course during Sarkisian’s first fall camp as head coach.

USC currently has three players on the roster playing center in fall camp. Junior Max Tuerk, freshman Toa Lobendahn and senior Giovanni DiPoalo have been mainstays at the position since spring football.

All three players were offensive tackles in high school, with Lobendahn playing offensive guard his junior year at Lakewood High School before moving to left tackle at La Habra High School and a senior.

Scout National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins knows exactly what Sarkisian and USC offensive line coach Tim Drevno see in Smith.

“Cole looks like the kid whose dad played in the NFL a bunch of years and was an All Pro,” said Biggins. “Just because of how smart he is… pointing his finger and making all of the line calls. He also has unbelievable feet to block his man, then shuffling his feet and taking on a blitzer.

“Equally good run blocker too. He’s super physical, which all of those Mission Viejo kids are, and plays with that dirty edge, which you like to see. He finishes his blocks as a run blocker. He’s about 6-foot-2.5, 255-pounds, so he does need to put on weight. He has a decent enough frame to do so.

“I think Sark just loves how physical and technically sound Cole is. There’s no transition there. He knows how to play center and has played that position his whole life.”

Smith becomes the fourth offensive line commit for USC in the class of 2015; joining the nation’s No. 3 offensive tackle in Powder Springs (Ga.) four-star Chuma Edoga, the nation’s No. 18 offensive tackle Los Angles (Calif.) four-star Roy Hemsley, and the nation’s No. 34 offensive tackle, Anaheim (Calif.) four-star Clayton Johnston.

USC signed five offensive linemen last February, and with another four committed this year, the Trojans are finally beginning to build their scholarship numbers beyond a one-deep.

“This year have have the two true offensive tackles, who are just coming into their own,” said Biggins. “Then you have Chuma Edoga, who can kind of play anywhere as the headliner. Now you have a true center in Smith.

“That’s a really nice group you have there. That’s nine offensive lineman in the last two classes, with a lot of versatility there.”

However, Biggins doesn’t see Smith contributed quite as fast as 2014 signees Toa Lobendahn or Damien Mama, who have already seen reps with the USC first team offense during fall camp.

“He’s about 255, 260-pounds on a good day,” said Biggins. “So I think you want to put another 25, 30-pounds on him. But offensive line is such a physical position, I’m of the opinion that you should try to redshirt all of your freshman offensive lineman if you can.

“But I also think he is going to come in and the coaches are going to be wowed by how smart he is and how quickly he picks things up. He has been through all of this with his dad, so he is really technically sound. Plus, at Mission Viejo, they run a college program over there, basically.”

Smith father, Doug, played 188-games in NFL as a center for the Los Angeles Rams. He was named to the Pro Bowl six times and started 76 consecutive games before reuniting with John Robinson at USC as a defensive and offensive line coach in 1993.

“Cole will come in way more advanced at the center position than any of the other guys they have” said Biggins.

Now the question is, will USC shut down its offensive line recruiting for 2015?

The only realistic prospects still on USC’s recruiting board are Oklahoma City (Okla.) four-star offensive guard Joshua Wariboko and Sacramento (Calif.) three-star offensive tackle Darrin Paulo.

“Wariboko narrowed his list down to six and USC is on that list, and then Paulo has USC in his top two with Washington State,” said Biggins. “I think if Wariboko wanted to come, I don’t think you would turn him down.

“But then I don’t think USC is in his top two or three either. With Paulo, I don’t know. He’s sort of a mystery to me. I think in December, USC take the best guys who want in. If there’s an elite guy who wants in, you take him.

“You never really know because USC is one of those schools, that with a 10 or 11 win season, can pull in guys from everywhere. So you never want to say never and shut the door on a class of 24 or 25 guys.”

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