This is one of the deepest wide receiver classes to come from Southern California in recent memory and the Trojans are in the thick of the recruiting battles with several of the top names.
There is a quartet of players leading the way who all offer the complete package of size, speed and athletic ability with Steve Smith, Whitney Lewis, Mark Bradford and B. J. Vickers forming as impressive a group as you will find anywhere in the country.
Smith (6-1, 195) from Taft HS was offered by Paul Hackett when Smith was a sophomore and that is proving to be one of the more intelligent moves Hackett made while head coach of the Trojans. Steve can star on either side of the ball with more than 90 receptions in each of the past two seasons as well as 12 picks in his junior year alone. One coach at Taft said if he had his choice in college he would play Smith as a full-time corner with limited action at wide receiver but at this point Steve prefers offense so with a player this talented you just hope to land him and then figure out later where he is going to play. Henry Bibby will also be interested to know that Smith averages over 23 points per game in hoops so there is no question of his athletic ability. Look for a USC vs UCLA battle with the Trojans having an ace up their sleeve in the presence of Brandon Hance, a workout partner of Smith's who will compete for the starting QB job next spring.
Lewis (6-1, 210) from St. Bonaventure was the MVP of the Nike Camp which was held last month on the USC campus and he is also an incredible athlete. Last year we saw Lorenzo Booker named by some as the top player in the country from tiny St. Bonaventure and this year there are those who claim that Lewis deserves similar billing. Whitney is being recruited by the Trojans as a wide receiver with the thought that he could also play running back if needed but at this point it appears as if he is casting a glance toward playing out of state as schools like Florida State, Tennessee and Texas routinely show up on his radar screen. There are reports that he may have trouble qualifying but with his talent the Trojan coaches will continue to recruit him as one of the top priorities in this class.
Bradford (6-2, 190) is another two-way, two-sport star from the LA City Section and while he may not get as much publicity as Steve Smith there is no denying that he is worthy of attention on his own. Mark is a very physical player who can go up and get the ball with the best of them and his aggressive style would be a welcome addition to the USC receiving corps. Last year he caught 75 balls for 1,104 yards and 10 touchdowns
Vickers (6-3, 205) plays in the wide open passing system at Venice HS and he is a thoroughbred receiver who put up big numbers last season. He caught 67 passes for over 1,500 yards and 16 scores last season with 5 touchdowns of 60+ yards and he also recorded 67 tackles and 5 INTs on defense. Vickers is wide open at this point with the Trojans battling Washington, Colorado, Washington State and ASU among others.
There are several Southern California stars who could end up playing on either side of the ball at the college level. Devin Stearns (6-2, 185) currently stars at Serra HS although there continue to be rumors that he will end up at LB Poly. Regardless of where he plays next season he will be highly recruited after catching 32 balls for 724 yards and 9 TD's to go along with 58 tackles, five sacks and two picks at safety. Dennis Keyes (6-1, 185) from Birmingham HS is a longtime Trojan fan and last year had 19 TD's on offense and 80 tackles on defense but says he prefers to play offense in college. Christian Bass (6-2, 195) from Canyon Springs HS in Moreno Valley impressed everyone at the Nike Camp with a 4.37 in the 40, 4.03 in the shuttle and a 34" vertical leap. Desmond Reed (5-9, 180) from Temple City HS caught 58 balls for 1,266 yards and 15 touchdowns while also getting 56 tackles and nine picks (3 returned for scores). Desmond also added 4 kickoff and 3 punt returns for touchdowns.
This is a great year in Southern California but that doesn't mean the Trojan staff is not looking in other areas. Anthony Hill (6-3, 200) from First Coast HS in Jacksonville, FL currently favors the Florida Gators but has said he doesn't rule out leaving the state while Antonio Cromartie (6-3, 195) is the latest in a string of stars from Lincoln HS. Cromartie is a top player on the USC wish list although he will be hard to pry away from the Seminoles or Gators. LaRue Rumph (6-1, 215) from Central Catholic HS in Clearwater FL was injured for most of last season but will be one to watch this year. The midwest connections of Tim Davis are paying off again with the Trojans in the running for Jeff Samardzija (6-4,190) of Valparaiso HS in Indiana. Jeff will be a four-year starter and last season had 51 catches for 1,197 yards and 11 touchdowns. Craig Chambers (6-5, 190) from Jackson HS in Washington is another 4-year varsity player who is at the top of most recruiting wish lists thanks to terrific speed and athletic ability to go along with his size.
Other names to watch will include Sam DeSa (5-10, 185) from Monte Vista HS in Northern California as the Trojans have made his HS quarterback, Kyle Wright, their top priority at QB. Sam caught 65 balls for 1,210 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Alvin Marshall (5-10, 180) is a lightning quick slot receiver who can also star on special teams. He will play this year at Compton College after originally signing with Nebraska out of Locke HS. Antoine Giddens (6-4, 190) has transferred from University HS to Venice HS and should put up good numbers.