Recruiting questions, recruiting answers

As the May Evaluation Period continues, several questions must be answered about both specific recruiting targets and prospects playing themselves into the scholarship offer conversation. In this feature, will analyze these important questions.

Who plays where?

In a deep 2016 wide receivers class are several players capable of playing defensive back. Bishop Amat four-star athlete Trevon Sidney, Long Beach Poly four-star athlete Jack Jones and Gardena Serra four-star athlete Brandon Burton are three of the best local talents poised to blur how many wide outs and defensive backs USC actually signs in 2016.

In a deep 2016 wide receivers class are several players capable of playing defensive back. Long Beach Poly four-star athlete Jack Jones is at the top of the list of players who has the ability to play both wide receiver and defensive back in college. Jones is rated the No. 1 athlete nationally by Scout and is a prospect USC will be in the mix with throughout his recruitment. At the moment, we see him playing cornerback in college due to his quickness and ability to anticipate. USC only really needs to sign one good cornerback with starter Kevon Seymour graduating in 2016.

Jones is the No. 1 target at cornerback locally. Sidney, who has also been labeled a possible cornerback prospect, used the last couple of months to re-establish himself as one of the state's best wide outs. Sidney is incredibly athletic player displaying acrobatic like skill with the ball in the air. USC is recruiting Sidney as a receiver and have been unabated in that thinking despite his pedestrian 40-yard dash numbers from The Opening Regional.

If USC takes four wide outs in the 2016 class as expected, Sidney would be counted among that group. Sidney might also be the only target of the group that could legitimately fill the utility role of Adoree Jackson if needed. What Sidney lacks in pure raw speed he makes up for in awareness and instincts. As for Brandon Burton, he showed some flashes at wide receiver early in the spring, but still projects more as a safety in college.

Why go out of state for a wide out?

Last year at this time, we were singing the praises of wide receiver prospects like Bishop Amat's Tyler Vaughns, Santa Margarita's Dylan Crawford, Mira Mesa's Steffon McKnight and Corona Centennial's Javon McKinley. While not every wide out target in-state has developed to expectations, it's still hard to fathom USC getting on a plane to recruit the position.

USC will probably take four wide outs in the 2016 class and four defensive backs. That makes up almost half of the 22 man class the Trojans will sign in February. Right now, local players that could fill those spots are in competition with two players from the Southeast that may wind up in this year's receiver class. Saraland (Ala.) three-star wide out Velus Jones is already committed to the Trojans and Suwanee (Ga.) four-star wide out Josh Imatorhbehbe is also very high on USC. That would obviously limit the scholarships available for local prospects, which seemed very unlikely a month ago.

Every good player USC passes on locally will likely end up at another Pac-12 school. Certainly, providing more low hanging fruit in recruiting for UCLA, Oregon and Arizona State isn't something USC wants to do after providing the entire conference with a crack at 10 additional prospects a year when the Trojans were sanctioned.

USC is still doing well with Javon McKinley, and with all factors considered, he is really the only in-state wide receiver checking all of the boxes for the Trojans in terms of athleticism, academics and on field production. Having said that, there will still be plenty of local prospects who will be cross referenced with Velus Jones, who has yet to step foot on campus at USC. It's not so much a question of whether Jones is a good player, but so much of whether he is good enough to travel that far for.

Can USC find a tight end, or two?

With the parting ways of Bellevue (Wash.) tight end Isaac Garcia last week, USC only has five scholarship offers out to tight ends this recruiting cycle. Of course, tight end recruiting for the 2015 class should remind USC fans that not all is revealed in recruiting by May, June, July or even October. Last June, Tyler Petite was committed to Duke and USC had not offered Avon (Conn.) five-star tight end Chris Clark a scholarship. He was committed to Michigan and Las Vegas (Nev.) five-star tight end Alize Jones was committed to UCLA.

While receivers and cornerbacks are most often considered the most probable two-way candidates earning the "athlete" tag, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle four-star tight end Devin Asiasi could also play himself into that category. Asiasi is 6-foot-5 at 250-pounds plus, so he could develop into an impact player on the defensive line in college. USC no longer has the commitment of Isaac Garcia, and with Bryce Dixon's place on the roster at USC in question, Asiasi would more than likely get a look as a tight end because of pure need regardless of how big he gets between now and next fall. That doesn't mean USC will not continue to develop options at tight end out of state. Thus far, the evaluation period has not produced additional a scholarship offers at the position.

Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep tight end Jacob Mathis is a solid option without a scholarship offer from the same high school of Nelson Agholor. Salt Lake City (Utah) three-star tight end Tangaloa Kaufusi and San Diego (Calif.) two-star tight Mason Vinyard are prospects to watch out West. Vinyard plays wide out for Helix, but at 6-foot-5, 210-pounds, he is being looked at as a possible tight end in college. Vinyard and a 4.62 40-yard dash at The NIKE Combine.

And if you think Vinyard might be a stretch to play tight end, glance a few NFL rosters. Names like Julius Thomas, Daniel Fells, Gavin Escobar, Dennis Pitta, Mychal Rivera and Delanie Walker never graced Pac-12 rosters but have managed to catch on and make impacts for NFL teams. This is a position where USC must develop more in-state targets this month.

Can USC hold serve at defensive tackle?

While wide receiver is not a position where USC has traditionally gone out of state to recruit in mass, defensive tackle is. The 2015 class was an anomaly with the Trojans signing five quality defensive linemen regionally in Rasheem Green, Noah Jefferson, Jacob Daniel, Kevin Scott and Christian Rector. This year the Trojans are putting their eggs in the out of state basket.

At defensive tackle, USC has established themselves as the favorites for both Lakeland (Fla.) defensive tackle Keyshon Camp and Houston (Texas) defensive tackle Jordan Elliott. Killeen (Texas) defensive tackle Kendell Jones is another potential scholarship offer level player for the Trojans out of state. Locally, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) defensive tackle Jabari Watson and San Bernardino (Calif.) defensive end Shemiah Unutoa-Whitson are under the radar players who could garner a look with a good camp performance.

USC's track record in signing top out of region defensive tackles isn't very good. However, with Camp and Elliott planning on unofficially visiting Los Angeles this summer, there is a reason to believe the Trojans could follow up last year's haul with another great class. The Trojans are also in good shape recruiting Murray (Utah) defensive end Maxs Tupai, who will likely play with his hand in the dirt next fall. USC will lose three defensive linemen with starting experience in 2016, so stacking good classes at this position is vital to being an annual College Football Playoff contender.

Who else is offer worthy?

These days it seems as though the May Evaluation Period is reserved for double checking on players already offered scholarships and getting ahead to the next class. USC has offered scholarships to 25 sophomores with 10 of those prospects being from California.

Of the local prospects in the 2016 class, Loyola four-star athlete David Long, Narbonne three-star athlete DeVaughn Cooper, Mission Hills four-star safety Troy Warner and St. John Bosco three-star cornerback Traveon Beck have been the most worthy of scholarship consideration with their play this spring. Another intriguing prospect is Verbum Dei athlete Davir Hamilton. Hamilton has played mostly wide receiver this off season, but his true calling could be outside linebacker.

In the 2017 class, USC has already peppered the nation with scholarship offers. Locally, the defensive back class appears to be very strong with several players earning scholarship offer consideration from USC. That includes Corona (Calif.) Roosevelt cornerback Thomas Graham, Pasadena (Calif.) Muir cornerback Elijah Blades, Buena Park (Calif.) cornerback Elijah Gates and Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne safety Malik Street. Of that group, Graham is the most deserving of a scholarship offer and the most likely to get one by camping with USC this summer. Top Stories