Inside the May USC Recruiting Target Lists

May Evaluations are at the midway point and USC has is choosing its targets carefully as opposed to the shotgun approach we saw in 2016. (Photo: Noah Boykin)

The 2018 USC Target Lists (Offense | Defense) enter the May Evaluation Period in the midst of an unusual scholarship offer lull. 

During the past few recruiting cycles, USC has sent out scholarship offers by the dozens during the stretch of mid-April to May. However, unlike previous years, USC is coming off of a Rose Bowl win and a significant amount of recruiting momentum. 

That momentum is reflected in the scholarship offers USC hasn’t made. The linebacker position, which is extremely deep in Southern California this cycle, remains static locally and nationally. Both Temecula (Calif.) four-star linebacker Jack Lamb and Portland (Ore.) four-star linebacker Eli’jah Winston remain without scholarship offers, which signals the Trojans coaching staff is confident with the pool of talent they are already pursuing. 

Camping to commit

The wide receiver position mirrors that of the linebacker position from the standpoint of talent. The class is notably deep, with USC handing out scholarship offers to more than a dozen wide receivers before last February. 

For much of the spring, the pursuit of new wide receiver targets slowed. However, it has not come to the standstill that linebacker recruiting has. The Trojans did offer a scholarship to Schertz (Texas) four-star wide out Tommy Bush this month. A notable scholarship offer to a 6-foot-5, 190-pound receiver outside of state lines. 

The scholarship offer is notable because if USC was satisfied with the current 18 uncommitted options at receiver, Bush probably doesn’t become target No. 19. The Trojans also offered Stockbridge (Ga.) four-star athlete Marquez Ezzard, who at 6-foot-2, 215-pounds, has the size and playmaking ability in the open field few of his peers share. 

Marquez Ezzard (Photo by Chad Simmons)

USC will take two-to-three wide outs in the 2018 class, and seeing that the Trojans remain favorites for players like Jalen Hall, Andre Hunt, Nikko Remigio, Kobe Smith and perhaps others, their continued pursuit of targets out of state suggests a shift in the pecking order heading into summer camp season. In fact, if USC takes an in-state wide receiver commit before the season starts, it will probably be because that player earned it at the Rising Stars Camp.

Of course, from a rankings standpoint, there is no bigger fish than Santa Ana (Calif) Mater Dei five-star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. Rated the nation’s No. 1 receiver prospect by Scout, St. Brown has clearly become more of a priority for USC in recent months. With that, St. Brown has taken notice and it is projected that USC sits among his top two or three options at present date. 

Trench Warfare

USC welcomed the commitment of Cerritos (Calif.) Junior College defensive tackle Dillon Faamatau late last month. Faamatau is a bounce back from Arizona State, where he played both offensive guard and defensive tackle. Faamatau was pursued by USC out of Norwalk High School in 2015, but opted to stay committed to Arizona State after the Trojans offered him a scholarship a few days before signing day. 

Faamatau joins Concord (Calif.) four-star defensive tackle Tuli Letuligaseona as commits for USC along the defensive front. Faamatau will sign in December for USC with two years of eligibility left if does not transfer this summer. 

USC has been very aggressive in recruiting linemen under Clay Helton, but with two defensive tackles committed and four suiting up from the 2017 class, the Trojans are basically recruiting with found money moving forward in this class.  

The offensive line was the one position USC was expected to possibly shell more scholarship offer out at this month. So far, USC has not offered one offensive lineman in the past 30 days. The Trojans are in good shape with Temecula (Calif.) four-star center Justin Diedich, St. George (Utah) four-star offensive tackle Penei Sewell and Salt Lake City (Utah) three-star guard Junior Angilau. 

USC is in need of interior offensive linemen, and while Sewell is ranked as an offensive tackle, he projects more as an offensive guard. Still, the expectation is that USC will want to sign at least one offensive tackle in 2018. 

Leading Rusher

Washington (D.C.) three-star running back Mychale Salahuddin started off May with a bang by stating that USC was his No. 1 college choice at present date. Salahuddin made that statement at The Opening Regional in Clifton (Va.) where he garnered MVP honors. 

Running back is the position where USC has made the most recruiting moves this spring. With new running backs coach Deland McCullough firmly established with 15 practices of spring football under his belt, the Trojans are hitting the road looking for a tailback. 

Matt Cashore / Irishillustrated.com

That road appears to be headed out of California. While USC offered a scholarship to San Jose (Calif.) four-star running back Maurice Washington las January, USC has continued to pursue more targets outside the state over the past month. 

The Trojans latest scholarship offers went to Indianapolis (Ind.) four-star Notre Dame commit Markese Stepp and Melbourne (Calif.) three-star Tennessee commit Jashaun Corbin USC also offered Texas’ No. 1 running back prospect Keaontay Ingram. While Ingram remains uncommitted, most sources in the Midland Region see him as a heavy lean to Texas. 

A hard break up

The USC Target Lists now list cornerback and safeties separately. Cornerbacks are now listed as being zone or man-to-man proficient prospects. The cornerback board remains loaded with options. At present date, 14 uncommitted players hold scholarship offers from USC. 

In contrast, USC has only offered seven safeties scholarship this recruiting cycle. Again, this represents the confidence level USC has with its current roster and potential pool of prospects in the 2018 class. Gardena (Calif.) Serra four-star athlete Bryan Addison would be a no-brainer to commit to USC, but the signings of Bubba Bolden and Isaiah Pola-Mao last February have created a potential roadblock in the depth chart for safeties in this class. 

Long Beach (Calif.) Poly four-star safety Aashari Crosswell remains an option, but at 5-foot-11, 185-pounds, he does not fit the physical profile of the other safeties USC has offered a scholarship to in the 2018 class. 

At cornerback, the push for tall, lanky defensive backs continues. USC offered a scholarship to Plantation (Fla.) four-star cornerback Tyson Campbell at 6-foot-3, 180,-pounds and Noah Boykin at 6-foot-2, 170-pounds. Both prospects are considered to be more comfortable using their length to patrol zone coverage than being put on an island in man-to-man. 

 


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