Pick: Jarvis Jones
The 2009 recruiting class is filled with talented prospects from top to bottom, with players like T.J. McDonald and Devon Kennard, who certainly look like future stars. But the one player that has the ability, size and opportunity to come in and have a real impact this season is linebacker Jarvis Jones from Columbus, Georgia.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker already has a college body as well as tremendous athleticism for a player his size. With four USC linebackers from last year's team now making a living on Sunday's, Jones will immediately be called upon to add depth at the linebacker position, and has the versatility to contribute at both the inside and outside linebacker spots.
"We think he'll have a chance to play and contribute and compete for playing time immediately when he gets here," Pete Carroll said on Signing Day. "He's an all-around athlete. Explosive, dynamic, an excellent basketball player and might have a chance to play on the basketball team. He's that dynamic."
Jones, who was rated by Scout as the third-best strong-side linebacker in the 2009 class, could be the player that makes USC fans forget about missing out on Vontaze Burfict and Manti Te'o.
Scott Schrader, Senior Recruiting Editor, SCPlaybook.com
Pick: Jacob Harfman
Mt. SAC Kicker/Punter Jacob Harfman may end up having the biggest impact of all the incoming 2009 players.
USC had a huge asset in David Buehler the past few seasons with his high percentage of nonreturnable kickoffs, as many sailed out of the end zone. Harfman will come in is as a kickoff specialist and punter, a position that wasn't very solid since the departure of Heisman candidate, Tom Malone. We kid about Malone seriously being a Heisman candidate, but one USC fan did start a campaign that got national attention.
If Harman can duplicate his 80% plus average of touchbacks he had at Mt. San Antonio College in 2008, the Trojans will be in a great shape again with their opponents beginning most of their drives at, or inside, the 20 yard line.
And the punting game was a weak spot for USC in 2008, so with the addition of Brian Schneider as special team's coordinator and Harfman, there is certainly good reason to believe we'll see a vast improvement in that important, yet often overlooked aspect of a championship football program.
Dan Greenspan, Pac-10 Blogger, CollegeFootballNews
Pick: Jacob Harfman
Despite an overwhelming talent advantage, USC hasn't exactly excelled on special teams under Pete Carroll. For every electrifying Reggie Bush punt return or C.J. Gable kickoff, there were key breakdowns – poor coverage, muffed returns, penalties and the like. The hiring of Brian Schneider as a full-time special teams coach was a clear sign that the Trojans would no longer concede one-third of the game.
But the departures of kicker David Buehler and punter Greg Woidneck leave the most obvious vacancy for the Class of 2009 to address outside of linebacker. The candidates to replace them ranged from adequate to disappointing in spring ball, making it quite likely that junior college transfer Jacob Harfman will be starting from the moment he steps on campus.
He is all but certain to be used as Buehler was in his first season, handling kickoffs and long field goal attempts. Harfman demonstrated a powerful leg at Mount San Antonio (27 touchbacks, 40.0 yard per punt average, 56-yard field goal). It might not be as flashy as the debuts of Dwayne Jarrett or Taylor Mays, but Harfman might make all the difference in USC's push for a conference or national championship.
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Freshman linebacker Jarvis Jones has the ability to make in impact in 2009.
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