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College Football Recruiting: USC, Kiffin Still Competing Away From Field

USC will not participate in a bowl this year, but that does not mean their season is over. The Trojans are now busy recruiting and will land top prospects from around the nation.

Matt Barkley was the top quarterback in his class in 2009. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Matt Barkley was the top quarterback in his class in 2009. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Getty Images

One of the more interesting stories in the college football off-season is recruiting.  Teams look to stock up on players of need and look for the best that fit to play for their respective school.  A high school prospect may hold four scholarships or 40 scholarships from colleges with every team fighting for the prospect’s signature. Because USC is seen as one of the more prestigious schools in the country, the Trojans always have talent coming in.  USC head coach Lane Kiffin has shown he could recruit the best and sign the best as he did with running back Bryce Brown and offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, though Henderson asked out of his letter of intent he signed in February because of the sanctions handed down to USC from the NCAA.  Still, even through the sanctions, Kiffin and his staff have been able to lock down on major talent in this year’s class and may strengthen the class as signing day looms.

It doesn’t hurt that Kiffin has coach Ed Orgeron by his side.  The defensive line coach has been regarded as one of the most brilliant recruiters in college football.  ESPN writer Bruce Feldman even wrote a book about recruiting with Orgeron that made Orgeron a legend in that aspect.  Every prospect knows his name and all agree that Orgeron knows how to sell an idea, in this case, sell the idea of attending USC.

Right now, the recruiting world is currently in a dead period.  Coaches may not see a recruit or have them officially visit the school, but may contact the prospect by phone only once per week.  However, coaches have full contact with any mid-year enrollee prospect.   USC has signed eight mid-year enrollees that count for the 2010 class because the school year began earlier this year and does not count as part of the 2011 class.  Three of those players are offensive lineman, of which USC is in dire need. 

For this class truly be a success, USC needs to solidify its needs.  It begins with the offensive line and ends with linebackers. USC had only seven offensive lineman on scholarship for the spring with Khaled Holmes, Matt Kalil, Kevin Graf, John Martinez, Abe Markowitz, Giovanni Di Poalo, and Martin Coleman, but with Jeremy Galten, David Garness, and long snapper Peter McBride added to the fold, it helps USC greatly. 

Currently, USC have three linebacker commitments.  Dallas Kelley from Chaffey Community College has already enrolled at USC as a mid-year enrollee, the rest is Mission Viejo high school star Tre Madden, who is regarded as the best linebacker in the west region, and Kent Turene, a linebacker from Florida.  Turene’s recruitment has been troubling USC as of late because of the high possibility that he may waver his commitment to the Trojans.  The Trojans need to sign at least four linebackers in this class with six being the ideal number. 

Here are some of the high school prospects that are on USC’s radar that have a possibility of signing with the Trojans:

OT Christian Westerman (6-5, 288;Hamilton HS, Chandler, Ariz.)

Westerman committed to the University of Texas in April enamored with the coaching staff because he believed the school was seen to his eyes as a family-oriented atmosphere, something he greatly admired.  But with the recent coaching changes, Westerman’s recruiting is opened again and USC is on his tail.  Before committing to Texas, USC was greatly involved with Westerman and was considered the favorite to land him, but with Pete Carroll leaving the program it made USC restart the process with Westerman.  It’s been reported that Westerman will visit USC sometime in January.

OT Cyrus Hobbi (6-4, 285, Saguaro High School, Scottsdale, Ariz.)

Hobbi, like Westerman, was enamored with USC when Pete Carroll was at the helm.  He was verbally offered a scholarship and was very interested with USC, but that interest slowed down after the current USC coaches didn’t evaluate him as high.  But the Trojans have showed great interest as of late and are in Hobbi’s final three that include UCLA and Arizona State.  Hobbi will visit USC on January 14.

OT Torian White (6-6, 275, Lakewood High School, Lakewood, Calif.)

White may not be as talented as the Westerman or Hobbi, but he does have the size and upside.  The lineman was essential to Lakewood’s offense and the USC coaches saw the potential White has to play right or left tackle.  White committed to UCLA and still has UCLA on top, but USC is closely following behind.

OT Ryan Nowicki (6-5, 272, Cactus High School, Glendale, Arizona)

As you can see, USC is hooked on to linemen from Arizona and why not?  Arizona is producing many talented linemen this year.  Nowicki has many offers that include Illinois, Penn State, and Washington and is very interested in USC.  Nowicki visited the Trojans on the weekend they played Notre Dame and loved the visit.

LB Colt Lyerla (6-5, 225, Hillsboro High School, Hillsboro, Oregon)

Lyerla is one the most athletic prospects in the nation and his athleticism allows him to play many different positions in the college level.  He played various positions in high school including running back, tight end, and linebacker.  USC  has told him that they want him to play linebacker and even compared him to recent USC grads such as Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews.  Oregon is the team to beat as the school from his home state is really pushing for his commitment. 

LB Lamar Dawson (6-2, 230, Boyle County High School, Danville, Ky.)

One of the most talented middle linebackers in the country, there really isn’t much to say about Dawson’s recruiting.  The linebacker is schedule to visit on January 14 and maintained the Trojans high on his list, but the Trojans have a slim to no chance of signing Dawson until after January 14.  With little depth at the linebacker position, hopefully it will be a great selling point to out of state recruits such as Dawson.

LB Brent Calloway (6-1, 210, Russellville High School, Russellville, Ala.)

Calloway, like Dawson, is a stretch to land his commitment.  But more so because the linebacker from Russellville committed to Alabama, his home state school, last year in June.  It is hard to sway away a prospect committed that long to a school, but USC is not giving up.  Another USC commit, quarterback Cody Kessler, has been in touch with Calloway and has helped the Trojans in getting an official visit from Calloway on January 14.  Maybe afterwards when he gets a better feel for the school that it will help the Trojans, but don’t count on him de-committing from the Tide.

None of these prospects are in California and it just shows that California had a down year this year producing great linebackers and offensive linemen, but it also goes to show that the problems USC is currently facing is not enough to write them off as a prestigious school.  The school offers more than just a football scholarship, but also a degree.  I wrote a column in June about some of the selling points USC can offer and so far, they are using those points the most they can. Expect a top-10 class from USC again this year.

For more USC football news and analysis, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Conquest Chronicles.