The fact is, USC only has the weekends of Jan. 13, Jan. 20 and the Jan. 27 to host official visitors before signing day 2017. As stated in the Ten Of Troy Dead Period Edition and previous articles, USC has some specific needs to fill at offensive tackle, defensive tackle, inside linebacker and safety.
If the Trojans can win nine games in a row and finish out the season by ushering in a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State in the new year, USC will in turn usher in a long list of four and five-star official visitors all month long.
Much can change between now and then, and this is not meant to be a comprehensive list of visitors, but USC fans still want a general guide to lead them into the turbulent homestretch to signing day. Dates for each visitor expected to be on campus have been confirmed, and in-home visits coming out of the dead period will determine how each weekend is constructed by the USC coaching staff.
Jan. 13 will be the first official visit weekend after the dead period and it will be a crucial 48 hours for USC to hone in on two positions of need. The Trojans will host Las Vegas (Nev.) four-star safety Bubba Bolden and South Jordan (Utah) four-star defensive tackle Jay Tufele this weekend.
Bolden is actually planning to announce a commitment to a college on Jan. 7 at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl visit. Bolden has narrowed his list down to USC and Ohio State. Originally committed to USC last year, the Trojans have always been a family favorite with Bolden and could still land his commitment despite his announcement a week before his official visit. USC would also love to bring in Bolden’s Bishop Gorman teammate, Haskell Garrett in on this weekend. While USC is still in regular contact with Garrett, there is no confirmation of a visit date being set for him.
Jay Tufele might be the most important recruit USC will host the weekend of the 13th. While players like Bellaire (Texas) five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson may be receiving more fan buzz at the position, Tufele is a player the Trojans have a reasonable shot at reeling in with a stellar trip.
Losing Utah native Stevie Tui’Kolovatu to graduation, Tufele has the potential to step in right away at USC and be a difference maker. And while he is rated a four-star by Scout, Tufele certainly has the potential to be a difference maker early on in his college career. The Trojans are, however, playing catch up to Michigan and Utah in this battle.
Isaiah Pola-Mao will be making the trip with fellow four-star safety Bubba Bolden Jan. 13. Pola-Mao visited Arizona State just before the dead period and visited Washington in December. He has two more spots open for trips, but USC could very well get the most meaningful last word is his recruitment among his favorite three schools.
Josh Falo is the No. 1 tight end on USC’s board, and he still appears to be plan A for the Trojans’ aspirations for a two tight end class. Falo has already visited Oregon and Colorado. With his brother currently playing for the Buffaloes. Colorado is holding serve for his commitment, but USC is in prime position to make a big splash with his official visit. Michigan and Alabama are also schools lobbying for a visit, so expect some last minute jockeying of in-home visit dates if USC hosts him Jan. 13. Falo gushes about every school he sees, and USC doesn’t want to fade from his memory three weeks out from signing day.
USC still has Sione Lund officially visiting Jan. 13, but now that Lund has been accepted academically into Stanford, the pursuit of his commitment becomes that much more challenging. The Trojans are recruiting Lund as an athlete, who projects as a running back or inside linebacker. USC did work some 11th hour magic with Hawaiian running back Vavae Malepeai last year. Malepeai was committed to Oregon, where his two uncles played, but he took a secret official visit to USC in late January before eventually switching his commitment to the Trojans.
Junior College four-star defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw doesn’t have a scholarship offer from USC yet, and while he is slated to officially visit Los Angeles Jan. 13, there is still questions about his transcripts. Kinlaw will not be a mid-year graduate from Jones County, so that safety net of an extra semester of school in case he doesn’t get his grades in order doesn’t exist. Kinlaw says he has narrowed his college coaches to USC, South Carolina and Alabama even though he is still on record as having an official visit to Texas A&M set up for Jan. 21. Kinlaw’s visit to USC is in pencil, not in pen.
Marvin Wilson is probably the biggest name among those expected to officially visit USC in January. At present date, Wilson is expected to come in on the Trojans' big Jan. 20 recruiting weekend. This tends to be the weekend USC aims to bring in its largest group of out of state prospects. Wilson has already officially visited Ohio State, Oklahoma and Florida State. None of those schools are considered favorites to land his commitment.
Instead, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M are still lobbying for visits as favorites. Wilson has been to A&M numerous times, so its likely he will not officially visit the Aggies. So USC will be competing with Alabama and LSU for his final two trips. As of now, USC is penciled in for that Jan. 20 weekend.
Alex Leatherwood is perhaps one of the great long shot recruiting targets USC will host in January. The five-star Alabama commit has been slated to return to USC ever since he took an unofficial visit to Los Angeles for the Rising Stars Camp. A few weeks later at The Opening Finals, Leatherwood and Martin Wilson stated they wanted to visit USC together in January. Leatherwood has already taken official visits to Alabama, Auburn, Michigan and Florida, so USC would get his final official visit.
Settling back down to Earth, Austin Westlake (Texas) four-star linebacker Levi Jones is set to officially visit USC Jan. 20. In addition to hosting many of its top out of state recruits that weekend, USC will also host many of its commits. Jones is particularly tight with several Trojan commits, so his trip to Los Angeles on this weekend makes all the more sense.
Jones commitment could effectively wrap up linebacker recruiting for USC in 2017. With the commitment of Layton (Utah) four-star athlete Tayler Katoa, the Trojans would have addressed its need at inside linebacker and landed its top two targets at the position.
Oregon commit Popo Aumavae has yet to publicly set an official visit to USC, but sounds like Jan. 20 is the weekend the Trojans would like to bring him in. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound four-star defensive tackle could also end up playing offensive guard. In other words, Aumavae is being recruited as a jumbo athlete by USC. Defensive tackle is obviously a position of need with the graduation of Stevie Tui’Kolovatu and the transfer of former starter Noah Jefferson. But in addition to USC losing two major components on the defensive line in 2017, they may also lose junior guard Damien Mama to the NFL Draft. Aumavae will officially visit UCLA Jan. 13.
De’Angelo Gibbs has been relatively quite about his interest in the Trojans, but most don’t know that his sister played basketball and graduated from USC a year ago. While she is no longer on campus, Gibbs said in September in an interview with Scout that USC was a “must visit” for him before his signs a letter of intent. Alabama and Georgia are currently considered front runners for that letter of intent.
While Gibbs will be considered a long shot to end up anywhere but in the SEC, five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon already committed to a school outside the region. In June, Solomon committed to Michigan. As the season rolled on, Solomon backed off of that pledge. Alabama and Florida became the factories in his recruitment. Now it appears Michigan is once against his No. 1 choice.
USC is simply a dark horse in this race. With family in California, the Trojans are simply vying for some face time with Solomon. His official visit will be determined on some successful in-home visits next month.
Terrance Lang is a player USC has been in good standing with for a very long time. In fact, Lang is one of the few top defensive line recruits who is USC’s to lose. Lang is rated as a three-star athlete, but his physical potential as a defensive end makes him one of the more intriguing prospects on the Trojans’ target list. He is currently slated to come in Jan. 20, but with UCLA still pushing to get their own official visit, the Trojans coaching staff may wait and bring in Lang Jan. 27 instead.
Elijah Blades remains committed to Florida, but with Calabasas (Calif.) five-star cornerback Darnay Holmes most likely headed to Ohio State or UCLA, the Trojans will make an even harder push to get Blades. He is slated to visit USC Jan. 27, and it's clear with defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast making it a point to recruit bigger defensive backs, Blades is a priority recruit for the Trojans. Blades has a good relationship with the Gators coaching staff, so Pendergast and defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford will have their work cut out for them convincing the 6-foot-3 cornerback to stay home for college.
Greg Johnson de-committed from Arizona earlier this month, which came as no surprise to anyone following his recruitment. Johnson has already taken an official visit to Nebraska in October and then took an official visit to snowy South Bend (Ind.) and Notre Dame Dec. 10. He will officially visit Arizona State Jan. 13 and then USC Jan. 27.
Note, Johnson’s brother, Marcus, committed to USC last weekend as a junior in the 2018 class. The two openly talked about playing together in college before the start of the season, but they now claim that their recruitments are mutually exclusive. Both are projected to play defensive back at the next level, although Greg is being recruited by USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin. He plays both running back and cornerback for Hawkins High School, while Marcus plays wide out and cornerback.
Hawkins five-star wide receiver Joseph Lewis has not confirmed a visit date with USC yet, but it’s probable he will end up on campus Jan. 27 with his teammate Greg Johnson. Nebraska is all the talk with Lewis, who has been recruited as hard by Husker fans on Twitter as the schools coaching staff. But by late January, Juju Smith-Schuster will have likely declared for the NFL, giving Lewis another reason to stay home and play for his childhood favorite Trojans.
Currently committed to Ohio State, Wyatt Davis will take some official visits in January. The Trojans aren’t at the top of his list, but USC isn’t exactly putting the full court press on for his attention either. The feeling is that Davis does eventually visit USC, and the way things sort themselves out, that probably doesn’t happen until the last weekend of January. Right now, UCLA and Washington are two schools attempting to set visit dates for Jan. 13, but Notre Dame and Michigan are also still in the mix.
Deommodore Lenoir is another local player that probably will end up officially visiting USC Jan. 27. This is not a compressive list of official visitors next month, and there a few other out of state defensive backs that could end up on campus leading up to the final weekend of the 2017 recruiting cycle. USC is going to play the field a bit here, but Lenoir is an option that could play cornerback or safety in college.