It's not often the words "Kaboom" and "three-star" are in the same sentence, but in hindsight, there have been plenty of three-star studs to wear a Trojan uniform. Buried deep below the five-star headliners of the USC 2016 football recruiting class is hidden gem.
Below is a list of the top three-star per recruiting class since 2002. Who from the 2016 class will be the next great three-star?
2002: Mike Williams (WR)
Has there been a recruit in the 2000's that's made a bigger impact as a freshman for the Trojans as Big Mike Williams? Shaun Cody, perhaps, but the big bodied WR from Tampa came to USC with far less fan fair. He's one of the pillars of Wide Receiver U.
2003: Ryan Kalil (C)
Fellow 2003 three-stars Terrell Thomas (CB) and Fili Moala (DT) both ended up in the NFL, but no one has had a better career from the 2003 star-studded class than Ryan Kalil. The Morris Trophy winner (2006) has been named to the NFL pro Bowl four times ('09-'11, '13). It's safe to say he has exceeded expectations.
2004: Chilo Rachal (OG)
The 2nd round pick of the San Francisco 49ers went on to have a solid six-year career in the league. Rachal was named first-team All-Pac-10 in 2007 and second team in 2006.
2005: Kevin Ellison (S)
The former 6th round pick of the San Diego Chargers had a brief NFL career, but he'll fondly be remembered for his bone-crushing hit of DeSean Jackson (California) at the Coliseum in one of the Tedford vs. Carroll classics.
2006: David Buehler (K)
Hey, kickers are football players too! It's hard not to vote for a kicker who wore a neck roll and had a linebacker mentality. The big-legged kicker from Northridge, CA spent three solid years as the Dallas Cowboys kickoff specialist.
2007: Rhett Ellison (TE)
The son of Trojan legend, Riki Ellison, was a late addition to the 2007 class after being a longtime Virgina Tech commit. He blossomed during his time at 'SC into an All-Pac-12 tight end and team captain his senior year.
2008: Jurrell Casey (DT)
A USC recruiting list isn't complete until there's a Long Beach Poly Jackrabbit on it. Fellow three-stars Malik Jackson and Wes Horton have gone on to have solid NFL careers, but none have shined more from the '08 class at 'SC or in the NFL as Casey.
2009: Kevin Greene (TE/DE)
Pete Carroll's final recruiting class at USC was top heavy, with slim pickings from the 3-star ranks. Between Simione Vehikite, Torin Harris, Frankie Telfort and Kevin Greene, Greene was the easy choice. One could argue Torin Harris contributed a lot more than Greene, but I counter with Kevin was a more valuable member to the team during the early years of the sanctions and making a living in the NFL.
2010: Dion Bailey (S)
While his Lakewood H.S. (Long Beach, CA) counterpart, QB Jesse Scoggins, received all the recruiting attention, it was Dion Bailey who shined at USC and one of the young players making waves in Seattle this preseason.
2011: Marcus Martin (C)
One could easily argue for Buck Allen here, but Marcus came in and started right away at left guard as a true freshman and never looked back. The third-round selection for the San Francisco 49ers is slated to start at RG this year.
2012: Chad Wheeler (OT)
Morgan Breslin was a three-star steal his first season, but injuries got the best of him leading to the choice of Chad Wheeler as the '12 representative. Chad could become a rare four-year starter if he stays through he doesn't leave for the NFL early. If he contines to play like a beast, USC fans could be witnessing his final season in cardinal and gold.
2013: None, Zip, Nada
Hard to pick the top three-star when the class was entirely filled with four and five stars. You read that correctly. Lane Kiffin's final recruiting class at 'SC was nothing but top-tier talent. It could go down as one of the Scout all-time top "quality" football recruiting classes with a 4.42 average star rating. The lowest ranked player of the class you ask? Four-star OLB, Quinton Powell.
2014: Malik Dorton (DE)
There was a coin flip between Don Hill and Malik Dorton, and it's obvious who won the coin toss. QB-turned-WR, Ajene Harris, could have been the runaway choice, but unfortunately for him the injury bug has bit him hard since he's stepped on campus.
2015: Noah Jefferson (DT)
This choice will most likely change over time, but based on today's needs, the #1 Ranked DT out of Nevada is the early choice.
Casey Cosgrove has been Vice President of Product for Scout since 2014. You can follow him on Twitter at @caseycosgrove.
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