USC offensive recruiting overview

As the Trojan coaches prepare to hit the road for the all-important May recruiting evaluation period, WeAreSC presents an overview of the top offensive prospects on the USC wish list. Defensive preview will follow shortly:

Quarterback

It remains to be seen if the Trojans will take a quarterback in this class, especially with the expected transfer of Mitch Mustain sometime in May. If Mustain comes, as has been widely speculated in recent weeks, then it could make sense for the Trojans to pass on taking a quarterback this year and simply wait until next year when there is expected to be a good group of quarterbacks led by Matt Barkley from Mater Dei. If the coaches do decide to take a quarterback this year, there are two guys currently at the top of the wish list in Dominique Blackman and Terrell Pryor. Both Blackman and Pryor offer the kind of athleticism that could offer options to play other positions if things don't work out at quarterback (i.e. Garrett Green). Blackman spent a lot of time this spring hanging around the Trojan practice field and the door is open for him to earn an offer with a good performance at the USC summer camp. Dominique has terrific size and has made great strides in the past year as a quarterback. Pryor is known as much for his exploits on the basketball court as on the football field so you know Tim Floyd will want to join Pete Carroll on this recruiting trail. The Trojans had made one early QB offer for this class, and that went to Dayne Crist from Notre Dame HS, but he ended up giving a verbal last week to the ND Irish.

Dominique Blackman 6-5/235/4.9/Carson, CA
* "USC is where I've always wanted to go," said Blackman. "I love the talent they have and they make everybody compete. Also, they have great alumni support. It's like they own Los Angeles." Offers from Arizona, Oregon, Nebraska and others.

Terrelle Pryor 6-6/220/4.4 Jeannette, PA
* Pryor doesn't list USC in his top seven schools and hasn't commented on the Trojans in any recruiting articles.

Running Back

Another skill position where it is very possible that we may not take a player in this class. The Trojan tailback position is well-stocked so taking someone at this spot is not a priority by any means but if a talented player wants to come then you have to take a look at that. Up until about a week ago the Trojans only had an offer out to one tailback, Darrell Scott from St. Bonaventure, who is the top ranked player in the West and he has held an offer since last fall when he was piling up a 3,000 yard season at Moorpark. Sam McGuffie is a speedy Texan who recently added USC to his impressive list of offers and Brandon Barnes from North Carolina just received his offer earlier this week as did Carlton Thomas from Florida. The Trojans have a verbal commit from Curtis "Moody" McNeal, a dazzling player from Venice HS who plays running back but who is coming to USC primarily for his skills as a kick and punt returner. You can be sure the Trojan coaches will be very picky when considering any other running back offers this year. As far as fullback, there don't seem to be any top targets right now at the high school level but one junior college player who could get a long look is Patrick Hill from El Camino College.

Curtis "Moody" McNeal 5-6/171 Venice, CA - USC verbal

Darrell Scott 6-1/205 St. Bonaventure, CA
* "They've been very interested in me and I've checked out the campus," said Scott. "They're always playing for championships so I'm looking at them too." Scott's top seven schools are California, Colorado, Florida, Florida State, Texas, UCLA, USC.

Sam McGuffie 5-11.5/190 Cypress, TX
* "They're (USC) definitely near the top--definitely near the top," McGuffie said. McGuffie said he'll travel to California in a about a week and unofficially visit a few schools. "I just want to get a feel for what's it's like out there. But mainly, I want to visit California and USC." McGuffie said USC, Ohio State and LSU are his top schools at this point.

Brandon Barnes (6-0, 180) Bunn, NC
* One of the latest prospects to be offered a scholarship from USC. Barnes said Auburn and Clemson are his top two schools. USC is recruiting Barnes as an athlete. He looks like a solid DB.

Carlton Thomas (5-8, 175) Frostproof, FL:
* Thomas is one of the latest prospects to receive an offer from USC. Thomas was one of the state's most productive running backs as a junior. He ran for 2,280 yards and 24 touchdowns. He edged out Chris Rainey for tops in Polk County.

Wide Receiver

The Trojans already have verbal commits from a pair of talented receivers in D.J. Shoemate and Chris Polk but don't expect the coaches to stop there, chances are we will end up taking at least one more receiver (if not two) in this class with the emphasis for the remaining offers being the need to bring in a "big" receiver. Shoemate missed basically the entire 2006 season while recovering from a foot injury but he is healthy now and ready to take part in Servite spring ball drills, one coach at the school says he has the best hands of any receiver he's ever coached. Polk is an all-around athlete who is simply a "touchdown-maker" and you can never have too many of those guys on your roster. To fill the remaining spots, the coaches will likely look out of state as they currently have offers out to such talented prospects as Deion Walker of VA (6-3), Brice Butler of GA (6-3) and Darryl Stonum of TX (6-1). Another OOS prospect to watch is Gerrell Robinson from Hamilton HS.

D.J. Shoemate (6-2, 220, 4.45) Servite – USC verbal

Chris Polk (5-11, 185) Redlands East Valley – USC verbal

Deion Walker (6-3, 185, 4.45) Christchurch, VA
* "I used to live in California and I have a lot of family in the Southern California area," Walker said. "I lived in Oxnard for about seven years and always liked USC. They are a hot team right now and I love their tradition. The only thing I'm worried about is seeing how many people they sign and have at wide-out. I don't think I'd sit for too long and I'm not afraid of competition, but I just want to play. My dad (Art Walker) is a running back coach and he loves USC too. He was really happy when they offered me." Although it's early in the recruiting process, it won't be surprising if Walker ends up choosing between USC and Florida State.

Darryl Stonum (6-1, 180, 4.4) Dulles High, TX
* "They (USC) have told me I can play as a freshman. They have had big receivers the past couple of years, but not really any speed receivers. I think I might get on the field early there." Stonum's top schools are Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Michigan and USC.

Brice Butler (6-2.5, 190, 4.4) Norcross, GA
* "They (USC) have a great program and are probably the top team in the nation right now. After seeing them up close this weekend, they moved way up on my list. I spent a lot of time talking with the academic people there and spent time at their Marshall School of Business. I want to major in Business in college and USC has one of the best programs around in that department. Coach Morton, the new wide receivers coach, spent a lot of time with me as well showing me film on the offense and showing how I would fit in. I feel I can do a lot of different things at receiver, from being a deep threat, to a possession guy as well and them talked about using me in the same way they used Steve Smith. USC has a great offense and I think it would be a good fit for me if I went there. I talked to Coach Carroll a lot too and I really liked him and the staff. I also spent a lot of time with the players on the team. Butler taken trips to USC, Florida State, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, Penn State and LSU. He claims no favorite at this time.

Tight End

The Trojans would love to bring in a tight end for this class and there is one target clearly at the top of the wish list in Blake Ayles from Orange Lutheran. Blake is one of the most athletic tight ends to come out of Southern California in years and he has the ability to be a dependable downfield weapon. The coaches offered him during his junior season after several of them were in attendance at a game when he caught nine passes for over 150 yards and two touchdowns. He also played well in the state championship game with a long touchdown play. One out of state player who has shown interest in the Trojans is Jonathan Baldwin from PA.

Blake Ayles (6-4, 235) Orange Lutheran
* USC has a leg up for Ayles, with his Lancer teammates Mike Reardon and Aaron Corp both signing with the Trojans earlier this month, and he said that they are definitely an enticing possibility. "USC is the hometown team, I know Aaron and Mike and my parents can go to my games," said Ayles. "They have been pretty actively recruiting me." Ayles top schools are USC, Arizona State, California, Michigan, Notre Dame, UCLA, Wisconsin.

Jonathan Baldwin (6-6, 210, 4.5) Aliquippa, PA
* "I want to go and check out USC," he said. "I've talked to them a few times and I know I'm on their radar. I'm feeling I should be getting an offer from them soon. I like USC because they are a great program. They are one of the best conference schools and I want to play in a top conference. I'm going to take an official out there this summer hopefully." Offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida and others.

Offensive Line

This spot is a priority for the coaches and thankfully it is a very good year for offensive linemen, as good as we've seen in a while. It's such a good year that the coaches have already told Michael Reardon that he will be coming in as a defensive end now because they think they will be able to pick up enough quality o-linemen in this class to allow him to move back to defense. There are already two verbals from mammoth tackles Matt Kalil and Matt Meyer, both ranked among the top 50 players in the nation by Scout. In fact, Kalil (brother of Ryan) was ranked as the top offensive lineman in the country. Tyron Smith from Rancho Verde is another top target and he has one of the more impressive physical frames in this class. At guard, look for Khaled Holmes (brother of Alex) and Daniel Campbell from Texas to continue at the top of the wish list as both are serious road-graders. Smith, Holmes and Campbell all have offers and all list the Trojans as their favorite. Other out of state prospects to watch are Kyle Love from Alabama, Zebrie Sanders from Ohio, Benji Kemoeatu from Hawaii and Alameda Ta'amu from Washington. Among the in-state players, Max Tuioti-Mariner and James Robinson are receiving a lot of attention right now with Tuioti-Mariner getting a look at both guard and center.

Offensive Guards:

Daniel Campbell (6-5, 320) Aldine High, TX
* "USC is my solid favorite right now," said Campbell. "They're associated with winning and I love their offensive style. I got the offer about three weeks ago. I called Coach (Pete) Carroll and he told me they wanted me to come out and play offensive tackle for them. I got the feeling that I might be able to come in and play early, which I liked to hear. I've text-messaged and talked to Coach Ken Norton the most, he said. I really like his vision. My specialty is pass blocking, so I know I'd fit in perfect in the USC offense. I also really like (John David) Booty. He is a great quarterback. We talked about me going out there this summer. I'm looking forward to getting out there for sure. I really want to see the campus and the facilities and just get a feel for the place. I'm going to take an official there too." Campbell recently told WeAreSC that his top two schools are USC and LSU.

Khaled Holmes (6-5, 290) Mater Dei
* "USC is definitely still my top pick," said Holmes. "SC is just a great program, all-around. It's all about the level of competition there. They really push you to become the best player possible. No position is ever secure—it's a fight every week to play. Nothing's a guarantee on that team. It's a completely different level of football. Holmes top two schools are USC and Michigan, with the Trojans slightly ahead of the Wolverines.

Offensive Tackles:

Tyron Smith (6-5, 267) Rancho Verde, CA
* "Right now, USC has the lead over UCLA," said Smith. "I'm probably going to go through the whole process. I think it will be a couple more months and closer to Signing Day when I decide." Smith has been to several of USC's spring practices, including the Trojan Huddle a week ago and he said he'd likely return to the USC Lineman Camp this summer.

Tyler Love (6-7, 287) Mountain Brook, AL
* "I have recently received offers from Florida State, Nebraska, Miami and Southern Cal. The USC offer was verbal. I am really shocked and overwhelmed."

Zebrie Sanders (6-6, 275) Northmont, OH
Alameda Ta'amu (6-4, 330) Rainer Beach, WA
Max Tuioti-Mariner (6-3, 290) Corona, CA
James Robinson (6-4, 315) Salesian, CA
Benji Kemoeatu (6-4, 315) Kahuku, HI


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