Stocked with Skill

When breaking down USC's 2010 class, the first thing you notice is all the playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Names like Kyle Prater, Robert Woods and Xavier Grimble jump off the page and have fans envisioning a potential offensive explosion in the near future.

After a stunning coaching change, a few days of uncertainty, and a strong finish by Lane Kiffin and USC's new coaching staff, the 2010 recruiting class is now largely finalized.

It was a bit of a bumpy ride, with some twists and turns along the recruiting trail, but in the end the Trojans inked another Top 5 class filled with tremendous potential and firepower on the offensive side of the ball.

At his press conference on Signing Day, Kiffin sang the praises of his star-studded class that will serve as the foundation for his time as the Trojans' head coach.

"I'm very impressed with this class, very tough competitors, guys that want to come play with the best, guys that aren't worried about depth charts or playing time," Kiffin said. "They want to win championships; they want to do it with great players."

When breaking down the class, the first thing you notice is all the playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Names like Kyle Prater, Robert Woods and Xavier Grimble jump off the page and have fans envisioning a potential offensive explosion in the near future.

"The play making group, you'll see some touchdowns come out of this...to have two different players in a class that were named National Player of the Year is pretty impressive, but there are so many dynamic playmakers, especially on offense, in this group it's going to be exciting to see these guys for years to come," Kiffin said.

One person that saw the same thing and had to crack a smile when the fax machine finished buzzing inside Heritage Hall was freshman quarterback Matt Barkley.

"These guys are going to make any quarterback look good," Kiffin said.

The wide receiver group is easily the best in the country with Robert Woods and Kyle Prater leading the way. Woods was the top rated receiver in the final Scout 300 rankings and Prater was right behind him at No.2.

Prater made a push for the top spot with a dominant performance for the East squad during the week of practice at the U.S. Army Bowl. But every time the 6-5, 215-pound wideout pulled in an acrobatic catch, Woods matched it with an impressive play of his own.

The good news for USC fans is that these two fierce competitors can now combine their talents and work towards becoming the top receiving duo in college football.

To go along with Woods and Prater, the new staff was able to lure one-time Tennessee verbal commit Markeith Ambles to the west coast.

"Three total receivers, three out of probably the top five in America. It was a phenomenal job by the staff and everybody involved," Kiffin said. "I don't know that I've seen as skilled of a class before coming out of high school. They've got a lot to prove and a lot of development to do but extremely excited there."

While expecting freshmen to make an immediate impact is certainly a tall task, Kiffin has seen it firsthand as an assistant at USC.

"I think we have high standards for all our players, especially our freshmen as they come in," he said. "Mike Williams came in here and caught 81 balls, 14 TDs as a freshman, and we've seen it before, and we expect those guys to do these things."

With the departure of Anthony McCoy, the Trojans were looking a bit thin at tight end – until securing the commitments of Scout's No. 1 tight end Xavier Grimble, No.5 tight end Randall Telfer, and Christian Thomas, who was ranked No.8.

"All three are extremely gifted and they could play other positions, but all three will come in and add some depth there, obviously we just lost a great one," Kiffin said.

Rounding out the skill position players in the 2010 class are Dillon Baxter and D.J. Morgan.

Morgan is the only primary tailback in the class, and arguably one the most explosive prospects in the City Section this year, before suffering an ACL injury late in his senior season.

Morgan's speed is well known, as he won the gold medal in the 110 hurdles at the World Youth Championship this past July in Italy. But what people sometimes forget is that he is also a very tough runner that won't shy away from contact.

Then there is Dillon Baxter, who is the most versatile playmaker in the class, with the potential to contribute as a tailback or slot receiver on the college level.

"Dillon Baxter is a dynamic player that we think can play a number of positions for us," Kiffin said. "You can run him, you can put him in the wildcat, we can move him around. We don't promise that to guys until we see them do it, but it may be something we do with him."

So how was Kiffin able to get commitments from so many of the top skill players in the 2010 class?

It all comes down to attitude and the desire to compete with the best - a trait that Kiffin feels separates USC recruits from the others.

"A number of these kids we signed, they say the same thing, ‘Coach, we went to the All Star game. We want our practice field to be like that," he explained. "We want to be around the best.' I think that makes you better. If you go and play with a bunch of great players and you're practicing against them on offense and defense every day, it makes you better."


Dillon Baxter and D.J. Morgan are two of the talented playmakers in USC's 2010 class.


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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at kevin@scplaybook.com


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