The USC head coaching vacancy was filled Monday when the Trojans announced that interim head coach Clay Helton would retain that position with a new five year deal.
The news spread to both current players and prospective recruits like wildfire throughout social media. The response was resoundingly positive for Helton, who has been a coach at USC since Lane Tiffin brought him in from Memphis in 2010. With the recruiting dead period starting in two weeks, the announcement if Helton as head coach came just in time for USC's mid-year graduates.
USC currently has 14 verbal commitments, with five of those players expected to enroll for spring semester classes in January. All five of those players re-solidified their commitments to enroll at USC Monday.
"I think when he took over he showed that he knows how to win games," said Murrieta (Calif.) four-star offensive tackle Nathan Smith. "He showed that he can inspire his players to play at a really high level. I think he deserves the job."
Smith was one of the few USC commits who took visits after Steve Sarkisian was fired as head coach. Last weekend, Smith returned from Nebraska, but it was his last visit to any school besides USC.
"I'm going to USC," said Smith. "It was great being able to get out to Nebraska, but I'm all USC. I don't think there's a place that matches it and has what I'm looking for in a college.
"It's a one of a kind school, the coaching staff is really good and the degree gives you great connections in Southern California. The school has a great game day atmosphere as well. All those things combined, you just can't beat it."
Smith's thoughts on Helton are echoed by many of those committed to USC and still deciding whether USC in their best option.
Lakeland (Fla.) four-star defensive tackle and Keyshon Camp will officially visit Alabama in Dec. 11, but says he is solidly committed to USC.
"I'm in for good," said Camp. "I think it was a good idea to keep him instead of getting someone new."
Scout National Recruiting Analyst Brian Dohn spoke to the mother of Paramus (N.J.) five-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary Monday about the news. "She is thrilled USC has a coach and can move forward. They will still visit Jan. 15."
Scout National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins spoke to several USC commits and top recruiting targets about Monday’s announcement.
Elk Grove (Calif.) safety Lamar Jackson - "I'm coach Helton's biggest fan, I loved him from the jump and I'm glad they kept him. I know they'll be by this week or next for a home visit but I'm not sure the date yet." Note, Jackson is no longer going to enroll mid-year, but he has finalized all his official visits, so his trip to USC will now be unofficial.
Torrance (Calif.) linebacker Mique Juarez - "I like Coach Helton and I'm very happy for him and the program moving forward. I think he's going to a great job. They'll be by the school this week to check in on me and I'm looking forward to seeing them."
Los Angeles (Calif.) cornerback David Long - "I love the Helton hire, I'm definitely going to give SC a hard look now. I've been sold on USC since his my sophomore year but had questions about the development of players there. I think Helton is the right guy and I'm very comfortable with the players. I've been up to SC quite often the last month and it's a great school. I want to see what they do with the DB coach position but I'm highly interested right now."
Long Beach (Calif.) Poly athlete Jack Jones - "I like Coach Helton a lot, it's a great hire. I'm very excited for him and the program and I think he's going to have USC playing like they should. I was already looking at SC but with Helton there, it makes them even more desirable for me."
Jones said he knows USC will be coming in for a in-home visit, but is still working out the date. Texas A&M, UCLA, ASU and few others are planning to visit as well.
Hawthorne (Calif.) defensive end Semisi Lauaki - "This is great, he definitely deserved it big time. I have so much respect for Coach Helton as a man because of his faith and conviction. It was that belief that led him to getting the job. He's a big reason the team has turned around and with him as the full time guy, I think thing are only going to get better."
La Puente (Calif.) wide out Tyler Vaughns- "I'm very glad he got the job. I thought he deserved it and everyone has so much respect for him. I knew if they beat UCLA, the job would be his so I'm very excited that he's the guy. This definitely solidifies things for me but I'm still looking forward to taking my visit there to make sure everything is 100-percent solid. They're coming in next week for a home visit and I'm doing my official visit in January. I'm still going to visit Bama in January too but my commitment is looking very good."
USCFootball.com will have plenty more recruiting fallout as the Clay Helton coaching era officially gets under way this Saturday for the Pac-12 Championship against Stanford.