Insider Report (Defensive Recruiting Recap)

Last Wednesday we published a list of offensive prospects USC has offered a scholarship or is showing interest in. Today we are providing a list of defensive prospects the Trojans are recruiting.

It might appear USC is off to a slow start with its recruiting efforts for defensive prospects, because there aren't any verbal commits, but the Trojans are quietly developing close relationships with numerous top prospects and will end up with a solid class come February.

So, let's get on with which defensive prospects the USC staff is recruiting and discuss the prospects interest level in the Trojans:

DEFENSIVE LINE:

USC has offered 14 defensive linemen and 10 are out-of-state prospects. USC has offered DE J.R. Ferguson from Hargrave Academy in Chatham, Virg., DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa from Douglas High in Portland, DE Lynden Trail from Booker T. Washington in Miami, DT Richard Ash from Pahokee, Fla., DT Garrison Smith from Douglass High in Atlanta, DE Jackson Jeffcoat from Plano West High in Plano, Tex., DT Sione Potoae, from Lakes High in Lakewood, Wash., DT Calvin Barnett from Booker T. Washington in Tulsa, Okla., DE Delvin Jones from Palmetto High in Miami, and DT Ricky Heimuli from Brighton High in Salt Lake City are the out of state defensive line prospects the Trojans have offered a scholarship.

The California defensive line prospects with offers from USC are DE Ronald Powell from Rancho Verde, George Uko from DT Don Lugo High in Chino, DT Cassius Marsh from Oaks Christian and DT/OG Dakota Smith from Westchester High. Smith will more than likely end up an offensive lineman, unless he drops quite a few pounds.

If the Trojans can sign Powell, Jeffcoat, Hemuli and Uko, that would be an extremely solid defensive line class. But the recruiting process is far from over and it's going to take a lot of work convincing all four to attend USC. So, the Trojans will look to Ash, who says USC is his top school, Odighizuwa who says USC is one of the schools he will officially visit, Jeffcoat who will highly consider USC after attending the Rising Stars Camp, Heimuli who said, "You have no idea how excited I was when USC offered," and Heimuli had a tremendous showing at the Rising Stars Camp, Potoae who was a no show at the Rising Stars Camp, but continues to express interest in the Trojans and Garrison Smith who says he will definitely take an official visit to USC.

I like USC's chances with Powell, but Florida is going to make Jethro Franklin and Brennan Carroll work their tails off to get him to sign in February. Marsh really loves USC, but if the coaches can't convince his mother USC is the best choice for her son, he will not end up a Trojan. I also really like USC's chances with Uko. Trail consistently says Florida is No. 1 and USC No. 2, meaning he‘s going to be a Gator, in my opinion.

The other defensive line prospects haven't had much to say about USC or aren't expressing much interest in USC, or they don‘t seem to be a priority for the Trojans.

LINEBACKERS

There are six linebackers with scholarship offers from USC and Ronald Powell could end up a linebacker should he choose the Trojans.

MLB Hayes Pullard from Crenshaw, OLB Josh Shirley from Kaiser High in Fontana, OLB Christian Jones from Lake Howell High in Winter Park, Fla., MLB Jeff Luc from Treasure Coast in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., OLB Jordan Hicks from Lakota West High in West Chester, Oh., and OLB Khairi Fortt from Stamford, Conn., all have offers from USC. And USC needs to add some depth at linebacker from the 2010 class.

Although the past few years most of the top Crenshaw prospects signed with UCLA, USC has a very good shot at getting Pullard. In my opinion, it will be a battle between USC and the Bruins in the end. Christian Jones isn't a linebacker who is often talked about out West, but he is one of the best football players in the 2010 class and the Trojans have done a great job recruiting him. He could turn out to be the 2010 version of Jarvis Jones. He's consistently said he will take an official visit to USC. Luc might be the top MLB in this class and word from sources in Florida is he is a big fan of USC linebackers coach, Ken Norton. I expect Luc to take an official visit to USC.

It's hard to imagine Hicks not ending up at Texas or Ohio State, but he's recently said he will take an official visit to USC in the fall. As we've seen so often in the past, anything can happen once an elite out of state prospect visits USC, but Hicks is a longshot at best for USC at this point. Fortt was hoping to visit USC this summer, but his schedule won't permit him to do so. He has said USC is a school he will take an official visit to. Shirley attended the Rising Stars Camp and looked really solid at linebacker. He could end up at defensive end, but he‘s a linebacker prospect for USC. I‘ve heard UCLA has the upper hand with Shirley.

A 2010 linebacker prospect who doesn't have an offer to keep an eye on is Brent Williams from Woodland Hills Taft. USC would like to see him get his weight up from 195 pounds to around 220. He's already gained more than 20 pounds since the end of last season and putting on more weight shouldn't be a problem. He reminded many us at the Skills Camp of Michael Morgan, but he's actually already bigger than Morgan was when he arrived at USC. Williams will visit Virginia Tech this weekend and could get an offer. If the Trojans offered Williams, I believe he'd commit. But USC can't wait forever to offer him, either. Especially if Frank Beamer offers him.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Nine defensive backs currently have offers and one more could receive and offer later this month when CB/WR Keanu Nelson from Sabino High in Tucson and his family unofficially visit USC on July 22. Five safeties and four cornerbacks have offers and seven of them are So Cal prospects.

The safety prospects with offers from the Trojans are Sean Parker from Narbonne High in Harbor City, Calif., Dietrich Riley from St. Francis in La Canada, Calif., Dion Bailey from Lakewood High, Tony Jefferson from Eastlake High in Chula Vista, Calif., and Marquis Flowers from Millennium High in Goodyear, Ariz.

Parker's closest friend and former teammate Byron Moore Jr. is currently enrolled at USC, but Parker has said that will have no influence on his decision on a school come February. I do believe Moore Jr. being a Trojan will have some influence on Parker. That said, Parker will decide on a school that's the best fit for him and take a close look at a few out of state schools, including Notre Dame, a school he will officially visit Sept. 5. In the end, I believe Parker will choose among USC, UCLA and Notre Dame. Parker will more than likely end up a cornerback prospect for USC.

At one time, many, including myself, believed Tony Jefferson would end up a Trojan, but I now believe he's taking a serious look at some other options. His interest in USC remains high, but Jefferson wants to play right away when he gets to college. Will their depth at safety cost the Trojans one of the elite football players in the 2010 class? Only time will tell, but if I had to bet, I would bet on no. Riley is another prospect I thought would definitely end up a Trojan and he admitted he did, too. He still has very high interest in USC, but the Trojans are recruiting Riley as a safety and if Riley wants to be a running back in college, he will end up at another school. After the Rising Stars Camp, Riley sounded as if he's far from being dead set on being a running back. That wasn't the case when we spoke four months ago after UCLA had offered him an opportunity to be a feature running back. I believe Riley ends up a Trojan, but I would have been more confident about that a year ago.

Bailey has made it known he wants to end up at the same school as his great friend and teammate Jesse Scroggins. If Scroggins chooses the Trojans on July 25, look for Bailey to commit soon after. If Scroggins chooses another school, USC's chances will drastically drop. Flowers, who is one of the top five 2010 prospects from Arizona, was scheduled to attend USC's Rising Stars Camp, but his summer school responsibilities kept him at home in Goodyear. I do expect Flowers to take an official visit to USC in the fall.

The cornerback prospects USC has offered and are interested in are extremely solid football players and few are very physical. Those who have offers are Anthony Jefferson from L.A. Cathedral, Demetrius Wright from Corona, Calif., Joshua Shaw from Palmdale, Calif., Lamarcus Joyner from St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Keanu Nelson is another cornerback prospect for the Trojans who could have an offer after his July 22 visit to USC.

Anthony Jefferson has very high interest in USC and the Trojans will be a school Jefferson considers until the end. But the end is a long ways away. It takes more than USC winning football games and a kid growing up a fan for the Trojans to sign a kid. This isn't a knock on Randall Carroll, but I thought Jefferson was Cathedral's best football player last season. USC and Florida are Wright's top schools, but he also has interest in Arizona, Washington and Tennessee. He will take an official visit to Knoxville when the Bruins play Tennessee on Sept. 12. Wright said he will take official visits to the five school mentioned above.

Shaw has serious interest in USC, but the recruiting process won't come to an end until December. He will take his allotted five official visits in November and December, and will enroll at the school he chooses in January. I have a feeling it will end up being a fight between USC and Notre Dame for Shaw. Joyner has said he wants to take an official visit to USC, but he's long shot at best for the Trojans at this point. If USC offers Keanu Nelson on July 22, the Trojans will become a school he'll seriously considers until he makes his decision. Jethro Franklin has done an outstanding job of recruiting Arizona.

SCPlaybook will provide monthly updates on all of the USC prospects.


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